Survey: 40% of Japanese men in twenties have never been on a date

The latest survey about sex and romance in Japan to grab the headlines claims that 40% of single men in their twenties have never been on a date.

The results of the government survey also suggest that this problem isn’t just men either. About 25% of young single women too also said they had never had a date with another person.

The numbers get a bit complicated, because 5% of married men and women in their twenties also said they had never been on a date, though this may mean they met their partner through a spouse introduction service and don’t count their pre-marital meetings as “dates.” (Actual arranged marriages, though, have dropped from the majority of partnerships in prewar years to just 5.3% in 2015.)

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The numbers for men and women who had never dated are similar also for respondents in their thirties: 22% of women (just 3% lower) and 35% of men (just 5% lower).

Most men (65.8%) in their twenties have no spouse or lover. Just 19.1% said they had a lover, which doesn’t mean they are sexless but does suggest they are romance-less.

Only 13.6% of men in their twenties said they had a spouse and almost none said they had a common-law spouse.

Of women in their twenties, 51.4% said they had no spouse or lover, which doesn’t sound high considering the people are marrying later, but is a little surprising in terms of a general lack of a romantic partner. More women (27.3%) than men in their twenties said they had a lover

Slightly more women in their twenties said they had a spouse (19.8%), but again almost none said they had a common-law spouse.

The survey was published online by the Cabinet Office earlier this month.

Before we start ringing the funeral bells for twentysomething men in Japan, we should keep in mind some nuances that the numbers alone don’t tell us. For starters, the men may have been on a group date (gokon, which respondents probably wouldn’t think it covered by the foreign word “date”). These are very common in Japan, often organized by work colleagues or college clubs, and since participants may end up changing seats, one gokon can equate to multiple dates.

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