‘Sexlessness’（セックスレス) in Japan
In the past, even Hungarian Internet users have found a number of articles reporting that Japanese young people have hardly any sex-life and have a tough time finding partners. Those articles were about unmarried young people.
This is about a different social group, married couples, offering readers a summary of an article that appeared in the 26 August 2013 issue of the Japanese weekly AERA, which is a member of the Asahi Shimbun group, publishers of the leading Japanese daily.
According to a survey conducted in 2012, 40 percent of married Japanese couples never have sex; this proportion was 32 percent in 2004. A breakdown by age group tells us that people aged 35-39 are the least likely to have sex: 47 percent never have sex.
When asked why, the reason most commonly given was “I’m too tired after work.” One quarter of men and one fifth of women gave this response. Similar proportions of husbands and wives – just under 20 percent – said they didn’t have sex because “something changed after we got married.” Over 10 percent of the men and more than 20 percent of the women said they didn’t have sex because “having sex was a bother.” According to the authors, biological differences played a role in this latter case.
The other reasons cited by 0 to 5 percent of respondents are also worth listing. Where there were major differences between the sexes, I’ve made a special note of that.
- There are more entertaining things than sex (more women than men gave this response)
- I think of myself exclusively as a parent
- I have no sex partner
- The apartment is too small (far more men than women believe this)
- I worry that I’ll have a child as a result
- It hurts (almost no men at all said this)
- I’m afraid I won’t have an erection (this answer was obviously given by men – about 4 percent of all responses)
- My partner only wants to satisfy himself/herself with sex (here I need to note that similar proportions of both men and women gave this response)
Another 20 percent of responses were in the “other reason” category. To the obvious disappointment of the curious, these reasons were not listed. The only option on the questionnaire was “other reason.”
In brief, the reasons behind the problem are quite diverse, but do not make for happy couples.
Another outcome of the survey is also worth looking at. Fully 63 percent of the men who do not have sex work more than 49 hours a week, while the figure is only 49 percent for men who do.
Sometimes a couple’s sex life disappears after a child is born. At the same time, according to the authors of this article, outside of Japan – on an international average – 80-95 percent of couples start having sex again within three months of the birth of a child. In Japan, six months after a child is born, 60 percent of couples still have not resumed their sex lives. The authors connect this difference to the fact that in western cultures – as opposed to Japan – the absence of sex can be grounds for divorce. Therefore, they think, couples end up having sex out of a sense of obligation.
What to do?
The authors of this article offer a laundry list of lifestyle advice, but I’m only focusing on one item. They say that the first step is to sit down together, naked, and talk about sex.