Ten percent of Japanese people in their thirties has no experience of heterosexual sex

We think we probably do more than enough damage to Brand Japan by our daily blog posts without perpetuating media myths about “sexless Japan.” We see a lot of articles and coverage of this topic, which we feel is a real problem but nonetheless also exaggerated by sensational, mostly foreign reporting.

Nonetheless, we like to share interesting twists on this familiar trope.

Something like half of married couples are no longer having sex, the studies would have us believe. But this may start younger, since one survey apparently claimed the majority of college students are virgins.

This is now developed by newly announced research by the National Fertility Survey of Japan that says one in ten of people in Japan in their thirties has “never had heterosexual sex.”

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That doesn’t meant they are all actually virgins, since the survey tellingly did not cover gay sexual experience (that is, same-sex intercourse) — which may well be around 10% of people in their thirties. (Moreover, the survey did not ask respondents if they were currently sexually active, only about their sexual history. This might alter the results a little.)

So we highlight this research, carried out in seven rounds between 1987 and 2015, to indicate some of the problems with these surveys and the need to look beyond the headlines.

In 2015, 11.9% of women aged 30-34 and 12.7% of men in the same age group reported having had no heterosexual sexual experience, the data showed.

In the 35-39 age bracket, the figures were 8.9% for women and 9.5% for men.

In both age brackets, the number of self-reported virgins had increased by several percentage points from the earlier surveys conducted in 1987 or 1992.

Each round of the survey is administered to people aged 18-39 years old, and in total the researchers from the University of Tokyo found around a quarter of men and women in that demographic reported having never had heterosexual intercourse in 2015.

For some context, here is American data.

Data from the United States, for example, found just 1.9% of women aged 30-34 and 0.9% of women aged 35-39 reported no sexual partners of the opposite sex.

The figures for American men were just 3.1% for those aged 30-34 and 1.4% for those between 35 and 39.

The study rather intriguingly suggested that, when compared to data in other developed nations, “Japanese adults tend to become sexually active later in life and that a substantially larger proportion remain heterosexually inexperienced into their thirties.” So does this mean your sex life will get better after 40? Let’s hope so.

But the report does clarify that sexual inexperience among those under 40 in Japan seems to be on the rise. If true, even in part, this does not bode well for the government’s efforts to tackle the low birthrate.

The researchers tried to grope for some causes, noting a “correlation between sex and money, with men more likely to have had intercourse if they had permanent, full-time employment.” Logical, perhaps, but we were much more sexually active when we had less money — partly because we were working fewer hours and were able to hit up Tokyo’s nightlife on a more regular basis.

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  • Razz April 18, 2019

    “The researchers tried to grope for some causes…”

    Might be the problem right there. Too much groping, not enough doing.

  • DM December 12, 2021

    When they are older they are more stable and got more confidence with that financially stable. Before that they are not very confident.

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