Nearly 40% of single Japanese not interested in romance: survey


Nearly 40 percent of singles in their 20s and 30s do not want a romantic partner, with many calling relationships “bothersome,” according to a government survey released Monday.

The survey, conducted by the Cabinet Office on the Internet and by mail between last December and January, covered 7,000 people aged 20 to 39. Valid responses were received from 37.8 percent.

Of the valid respondents, 37.6 percent said they don’t want a romantic partner, while 60.8 percent voiced interest in such a relationship.

The figures were reported in an annual government white paper discussing measures to combat the low birthrate.

Of the total, 28.8 percent said they are unmarried and are not in romantic relationships. Of them, 39.1 percent of women and 36.2 percent of men said they do not want a romantic partner.

The survey also found that low-income earners are less interested in romantic relationships.

With respondents allowed to give multiple answers, 46.2 percent called relationships bothersome — the most popular reason cited.

This was followed by 45.1 percent who said they wanted to prioritize hobbies and 32.9 percent who prioritized their work and studies ahead of romantic relationships.

The white paper also pointed out that the proportion of people who have never married by the age of 50 is increasing.

To deal with the low birthrate, the government has vowed to provide support for all stages of individuals lives, ranging from marriage, pregnancy and delivery to child rearing, the white paper said.

  • tisho

    How can you be interested in something you’ve never experienced ?

    • Clickonthewhatnow

      … what? Stuff you’ve never experienced is generally MORE interesting.

      • tisho

        Only if you have associated that it’s a pleasant thing. An Eskimo would not be interested in playing on the beach enjoying the sun if he doesn’t know what it is. A person would not be interested in romance if he doesn’t know what it is.

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        Okay, so you’re talking about someone who has never been through the school system, as everyone else is aware of what romance is. Even in Japan, you’ll definitely be exposed to romance between other people in your time in high school.

      • tisho

        Romance is not taught in any school curriculum in any country. A lot of people have a vague idea of what romance look like from movies and manga, but has never actually had a real experience in real life. A lot of people have a fixated idea of what a romance is based on what they’ve seen/read from mangas and movies, and they find that annoying and too troublesome to deal with. Romance is not a fixed series of actions you must follow as a lot of people seems to think, it is a love affection expressed in an individual way. But a lot of Japanese don’t see it that way because they don’t know what it is, and has never experienced it.

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        They have been exposed to it, in school and social life, if only indirectly. This is experience. Not first hand experience, but enough to know if they want it or don’t.

  • J Steel

    Actually this really depends on how the survey was framed (ie. the context in which the question was interpreted in what I presume was a survey asked in Japanese). There seems to be the impression that single Japanese have no interest in romance with the opposite sex when the case might be that they’re not interested in “relationships” with them, which the article notes they find “bothersome.”

    From the article it does seem like “romantic partner” is synonymous with “relationship” which is what many single Japanese are rejecting, while they might instead just be preferring short-term flings with no relational attachments.

    • GameKyuubi

      I think that’s actually rather clear. They’re rejecting marriage and long term relationships, not necessarily the idea of friendship or interest in others.

  • Jay

    My impression is that Japanese women are longing to meet a suitable partner. What’s wrong with the men?

    • skillet

      Two problems. To finance a family, you need to be a “salaryman”. Two problems.
      1)It’s too hard. 2)Not available enough.

      Japanese women want security. It also does not help that Japanese dudes are often very shy.

      And there is another problem. They should step aside and let the girls be pretty. They should get back to things like karate and kendo. That will get there testosterone flowing. Women will pick up on that he-man scent and really be into them. Japan has that samurai culture. Young dudes should learn from their grandparents. These men were tough as nails.

      No girl likes a pretty boy.

      • Stewart Dorward

        Totally wrong – most Japanese girls like pretty boys. I have taught many classes of high school girls and they dislike tougher, macho types and prefer the softer ones – of course. In reverse, I know quite a few assertive sporty Japanese guys who cannot get a date or have twigged that the girls are only after their money and are avoiding them for that reason.

      • skillet

        They just need to be aggressive and overcome shyness.

        I saw in the 1990’s also the emerging popularity of the pretty boy type. “Kawaii culture”. But pretty boy is a dead end street. Problem is not macho as much as macho in isolation. A man’s man who develops in “group katsudou” often cannot communicate outside his little world. The “insider culture” communication of the baseball team does not fly in the wider world.

        Japanese “bukatsudou” can develop character, but this type is person often becomes overly molded by his group.

        THe “kawaii boys”, for all their faults, identify with the wider society and perhaps more can communicate better.

        But as time goes by, when a dude cannot do anything other than comb his hair, women reject them, also.

        I love many aspects of Japanese group culture. But that is where some individuality must kick in.

      • Warren Lauzon

        Same thing in Korea – where the “flower boy” groupies are almost a national trait. Big difference in Korea is that that attitude is very much reinforced by TV dramas, while Japanese TV dramas are much less sexist, despite the prevailing attitudes.

    • husin tempoyak

      Japan is a male dominant society. Most female despite their college education, will be housewife. Surprisingly, most of them chose to be like that and they preferred that kind of life.

      Be a salary man is a tough and stress job for Japanese men.

      Japanese women to certain extent opt for long term security and minimum requirement of luxurious life.

      Many Japanese men lacked confidence when it comes to a question of financing the family and be romantic.

      Some Japanese girl (very few i guess) brave enough to go against the odd. But i dont see it to be dominant or change the society.

      The schooling and cultural values is very deep in Japan. It is taught and practiced officially from the school to workplace.

      • Warren Lauzon

        While true that most women still prefer that, from this and many other articles I have read, there has been a massive shift in attitudes over the past couple of decades, and I don’t see it slowing down.

    • Yuume

      The men are expected to be at work most of the time and so are almost never home. They work 50+ hours a week, top that off with nomikai after work, that’s even less time at home. Even if women are married, they get very little time for romance and the men come home exhausted or drunk, so it’s hard on both ends. Even then, those who aren’t married work 50+ hours a week and still expected to go to nomikai (and generally the first 20-40 hours of overtime are “service overtime” and are unpaid), so how are they supposed cultivate anything meaningful when they are expected to have a relationship with their workplace too?

      Then like Husin said, Japan is a very male dominated society and women don’t want to give up their hobbies and careers to have kids, but it’s what’s expected. If you are a female and are working, they will outright make you take time off after you have the baby and usually give you problems or look down on you when trying to re-enter later because they think you should be at home taking care of your kid/house.

      Then there’s the fact that the youth are expected to have kids and start a family out of a duty to their country and raise them traditionally. They don’t want that responsibility thrust on them, they want to have a family and relationship because they WANT to, not because it’s what’s expected. They don’t want to get married and be distant or miserable because “that’s just how it is”.

      • Warren Lauzon

        Most of what you say is spot on, but to fix the birth rate problem would require a massive shift in attitudes, and I don’t see that happening. I lived in Japan from the early 70’s to late 80’s, and from what I read many of the attitudes have not changed a bit when it comes to the infamous nomikai (which often seem to turn into drinking contests) and other factors you mentioned.

      • Jay

        I think women who want to work have trouble finding cooperative partners. Most men expect the woman to do the household chores, even if she continues to work full-time, and so it is hard on the women. (Their loss, my gain! My wife probably married me because I shop, cook, take care of the garden, AND work.) I can also appreciate the argument that lots of younger men are not in a position to marry because they can’t get steady, well-paid jobs. And of course, women don’t want to marry a guy who doesn’t have a regular job. At my workplace, there are lots of single women, but most of them are married to their jobs and wouldn’t give them up to take care of a man.

  • Warren Lauzon

    Things have certainly changed since I lived there a couple of decades ago. But I can understand why Japanese women are so reluctant to get into relationships – for much of the same reason that Chinese and Korean women are: Family and relatives burdens, nearly forced to stay at home no matter what skills, etc. A while back I saw a poll about who would like to emigrate to the US, Canada, or Europe – and while the overall percentage was not that high (I recall around 15%), women outnumbered men about 4:1 for “yes”.