Young men, couples shunning sex

by Alex Martin

Young Japanese men are growing indifferent or even averse to sex, while married couples are starting to have it even less, a recent government survey says.

According to the results of the September poll, released Wednesday, over a third of men aged 16 to 19 had no interest in sex, double the figure from 2008, and over 40 percent of those married have been sexless for at least the past month.

The research was organized by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry as part of its study on preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Kunio Kitamura, director of the Clinic of the Japan Family Planning Association and the man who directed the survey, said Thursday the results confirm the rising prevalence of so-called “soshokukei danshi” (herbivorous men), or those who are generally passive toward relationships and attracted to pastimes traditionally attributed to females.

“Those in the younger generation seem to find it especially cumbersome dealing with others face-to-face,” said Kitamura, who has conducted the biennial survey since 2002. “Basically, there is this general lack of communication taking place between men and women,” he said, adding that he believed the proliferation of cell phones and the impact of the struggling economy are also negatively influencing young people’s sex lives.

The survey was carried out Sept. 11-28 and covered 3,000 people nationwide aged 16 to 49. Valid replies were received from 671 men and 869 women.

Among males from 16 to 19, 36.1 percent said they were either uninterested or averse to sex, more than double the 17.5 percent who said so in the 2008 poll. Men between 20 and 24 showed a similar trend, jumping from 11.8 percent to 21.5 percent, while men between 45 and 49 leaped from 8.7 percent to 22.1 percent.

While the figures aren’t as drastic, females either uninterested or averse to having sex also saw an increase in all age groups.

As for married couples, 40.8 percent said they hadn’t had sex in the past month, up from 31.9 percent in 2004. The main reasons given for the drop in sexual activity were a vague reluctance after childbirth, sex as too much of a hassle, and work-related fatigue.

Kitamura of JFPA said that while he appreciated the government’s efforts in tackling the nation’s low birthrate through grants to families with children and other measures, he believed more emphasis should be placed on sex education.

“We need to help children understand that relationships are a good thing, something that will enhance their livelihood,” he said.

“Children should obviously learn about the importance of birth control and the dangers of sexually transmitted disease, but they should also understand that sex can be a very fun and fulfilling activity,” Kitamura said.