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Nearly half of Japan’s 20-year-olds have never been in a romantic relationship and 1 in 5 has never fallen in love, a survey by a marriage counseling firm says.

The annual survey, conducted by O-net for the past 20 years, covered 600 fledgling adults slated to attend the annual coming-of-age ceremony next Monday. All were single.

The results, released Monday, found that 47.8 percent of the new adults had never dated a member of the opposite sex, compared with 43.3 percent in 2009, when O-net began asking the question, while 19.0 percent said they had never fallen in love.

Asked if they were in a romantic relationship, 74.3 percent said no, with a record-low 62.6 percent of that group saying they were looking for a partner. The latter number contrasted sharply with the 90 percent logged in 2000.

The results testify to the lack of romantic interest that appears to be plaguing today’s youths, O-net concluded.

This apathy holds true not only for men, as the popular phrase “soshokukei danshi” (herbivorous men) suggests, but also women, it said, pointing out that 60.4 percent of single women said they fancy getting into a relationship, compared with 64.6 percent of men.

The young people who confessed to preferring to remain unmarried accounted for a record-high 23.5 percent, tying the level in 2004.

On a different topic, the survey also found that a record 83.7 percent of the pollees professed their “love of Japan,” compared with 67.1 percent in 2007.

On a related note, 70 percent said they are both “proud and fond of Japan’s history,” up 9 percent from 2007.

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