• Tucson, Ariz.

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Regarding Debito Arudou’s Nov. 3 article “Demography vs. demagoguery: when politics, science collide“: Arudou’s comments remind me of . . . . the recent phenomenon of “plant-eating men” — those who prefer a “metro-sexual” lifestyle of fashion and hobbies over pursuit of a girlfriend.

To me this is a symptom of a larger problem: the lack of affection/passion between Japanese people and a fear of pursuing romantic relations. I know the stereotype is that Japanese are not particularly passionate, but a recent conversation between my Japanese wife and several of her friends in Japan illustrates my point. The ladies were discussing their sex lives when my wife pointed out that she and I still enjoyed each other’s company regularly.

This shocked her friends, who replied that “sex is really only for having children.” Each one indicated that the last time she had had sex was to conceive her last child — in one instance, six years previously! My wife couldn’t believe this and when she returned to her parents’ home, she asked her hip young sister-in-law about it. Imagine her surprise when her sister-in-law told her the same thing.

To me this indicates a serious psychological problem. Is it fear of rejection or a fear of affection that drives this move away from coupling, in both the social and physical sense? Is there something in the media or the education curriculum that has pushed this rejection of the pursuit of romance?

Ultimately, there is a solution on the horizon as suggested in a recent article in The Japan Times by Kaori Shoji. She laments that among a recent gathering of friends there was not a single “red-blooded Japanese male,” as all of her friends had foreign spouses or boyfriends.

Despite government restrictions on immigration, if Japanese men are unwilling to step up to the plate, foreign men will, and they will marry into Japanese society. Further, it seems that those of us who do marry into Japanese society are more likely to reproduce. Will this solve Japan’s demographic woes? Probably not. But it does create an avenue for immigration that the government will be hard pressed to shut down and that could balance Japan’s demographics in the long run.

james guthrie

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