According to an investigation carried out by Abigail Haworth from the Guardian, Japanese young people are losing interest in marriage and romantic relationships. Some of them find love and sex too complicated, therefore they would rather focus on their friends and career instead of looking for romantic relationships. Due to the loss of interest in marriage and romance, the country’s young generation is facing sekkusu shinai shokogun (a celibacy syndrome).
The country’s severely declining birth rate and marriage rates concur with the celibacy syndrome, as the current birth rate in Japan is 8.23 births/1,000 population and the country is ranked 220 in the world. According to a survey conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) earlier this year, 45% of women aged 16-24 "were not interested in or despised sexual contact" and over a quarter of the male population felt the same way towards this issue.
The reason for this occurrence may be due to changes in society and traditional gender roles. Nowadays most young people do not earn enough to support a child. The only way that a couple can support the high costs is if both parties worked full-time jobs, but working women face prejudice and discrimination in the workplace. For example, married women never get a promotion after they are married, as their bosses assume that they will leave their jobs after they have a child.
Another factor that supports the celibacy syndrome theory is the change in traditional gender roles. In the past, the male was the breadwinner of the family while the woman stayed home to take care of the children, but nowadays most young Japanese men do not earn enough to support a family. Other than giving up on marriage, the men have also lost interest in romantic relationships, as they do not want the women to expect marriage out of the relationship.
On the other hand, other experts argue that there is a global decline in birth rate and Japan is simply one of the countries included in the list. Even in the United States, many young people remain unmarried and the birth rate is not extremely low due to immigration. While the Japanese Family Planning Association supports the idea that Japanese young people have given up on love and sex, the Japanese National Institute of Population and Social Security Research claim that almost 90 percent of unmarried Japanese people intend to marry and that “the proportion of singles who are consciously trying to delay marriage is waning”.
Other than a global decline in birth rate, the internet has also affected intimacy worldwide. Instead of dating people in real life, many young people go online to play out their romantic and sexual fantasies with various resources such as online porn, virtual reality girlfriends and anime cartoons. While the Japanese are well known for their obsession with virtual fantasies, this phenomenon has spread around the world as well.