Survey says nearly half of married couples in Japan are “sexless”

Another week and another survey brings grim news about sex in Japan.

Following the news wire article a few days ago about 26.9% of idols being sexually harassed that has been making the rounds of various English-language publications, now comes another one about that perennial favorite: sexless Japan.

Japan seems to be, if we believe the media, a sexless and barren land — or a hyper-sexualised place of weird fetishes and mountains of porn. What is the truth? Both at the same time? Neither? Or something more nuanced in between?

Needless to say, a blog like this hardly paints the best picture of the country in terms of balance but then we make no secret of the fact that we are introducing specifically niche content about sex.

A new survey compounds the numerous reports and and surveys we have seen over the past few years about this topic, suggesting that young people don’t have enough sex and that couples also don’t get intimate at all.

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This time it was a private survey and thus more limited in scope than government-funded ones. But it seems to say that nearly half of married couples in Japan have not had sex in more than a month, which is then categorized as a “sexless” relationship. This actually matches the headlines generated by another survey in 2015.

Among 655 married men and women aged 16 to 49 surveyed, the ratio of respondents who said they were sexless rose to a record-high 47.2%, up 2.6 percentage points from the previous tally in 2014, the Japan Family Planning Association said.

The association released the results at a time when the country is struggling with a declining birth rate, a factor behind its shrinking population.

The percentage of sexless couples stood at 31.9% in 2004, when the survey was first conducted by the organization. In the latest survey, there was no substantial difference among genders, with 47.3% of married men and 47.1% of women saying they were sexless.

By age, people aged between 45 and 49 showed the highest portion of being sexless, according to the survey conducted from last October to November.

“The tendency of being in a sexless marriage has increased further,” said Kunio Kitamura, the association’s president.

Asked why they were reluctant to have sex, 22.3% of women replied it was “troublesome” to do so, and 20.1% said they just did not do so after having children. Among men, 35.2% said they were “tired from work.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the tally did not offer a straightforward cause-and-effect correlation between working hours and sexlessness.

A major point not brought up is children: did these sexless couples have children and did their “sexless” relationships become this way after having children?

Many couples in Japan stop having sex after the woman becomes pregnant or gives birth. The mother often goes back to her family home for several months before and after the birth, isolating the father, who is stuck in the city working. They may start sleeping in separate rooms for the sake of convenience when the baby is still breast-feeding and things never return to normal afterwards. Even putting that aside, the stress and effort contingent with a new arrival in the family — not to mention the size of Japanese homes — all create a serious obstacle when it comes to staying on intimate terms.

And if you think this is only Japanese couples, think again. Even when the male partner in the relationship is foreign, you may still end up with the “sexless” marriage, as the comments on this blog document in vivid detail.

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