Japan has somehow earned a reputation as a "sexless" country — a place where men and women have lost their libidos. The reasons given are various but mainly have to do with increased introversion and general loss of sociability among young people.

This theme is catnip to editors at overseas newspapers, where stories about "weird Japan" — regardless of their veracity — are always good for a laugh because they're strange and harmless. Within Japan, this sexless reputation is an embarrassment, especially to older men who like to think of themselves as having been actively virile in their youths.

The theme was revisited anew last week when the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research released the results of its latest study, conducted every five years, on the state of intersexual affairs, especially as it pertains to the very real issue of sinking birthrates. The statistics that attracted the most scrutiny in the press were those related to single people aged 18-34, which revealed that young folks just aren't getting it on, as everyone feared.