No sex please, we’re Japanese

My boyfriend and I have started watching some of the BBCs “This World” programmes that have been on recently, presented by Anita Rani.

The first was on BBC Two called, No sex please, we’re Japanese.

The show essentially was about the lack of people in Japan having children. There are now far more older people in Japan, to the extent that nappies for the elderly are outselling babies nappies. They showed a town which once had 21 primary schools, and now has just 1. The town had to close their maternity ward because there was no one having babies at all. The people said that the town had nothing to attract younger people, but also the birth rate is dropping very dramatically in Japan in general.

They started looking into the reasons as to why the birth rate is dropping. The reasons included culture, distractions, the economy and immigration.

Japan is so different from the rest of the world. Anime and manga, for example, is created not just for the younger generation but for the older ones too. One guy on the show was married, but he had a virtual girlfriend on a game called Love Plus for his Nintendo DS. He considered this his actual girlfriend and didn’t want to tell his wife about it. These men were called Otaku – geeks who are obsessed with anime and manga and tune out of the real world to live in a fantasy. It’s a common thing in Japan. A place in Tokyo called Akihabara (I want to go!) is full of anime and manga to please these sorts of people. They said that with entertainment and distraction like that, why would you want a complicated relationship?


The state of the economy means that men in Japan have confidence issues, believing they will never amount to a lot and never make any more money than their parents did. They therefore want to revert to a childlike state of computer games and a virtual world to make them feel more comfortable. It is easier to deal with the virtual world than a real woman.

Other reasons for the dropping birth rates included that there are a lot of immigration rules in Japan making it harder for people from other cultures to come over, keeping the culture very traditional. In Japan men often think that women should stay at home, have children and be a housewife, whereas the women want a career. If you have children in Japan, in many ways it can end your career. Basically they were saying that if they were more interracial relationships, maybe there would be a population boost!

One survey said that just 27% of couples in Japan said they had sex every week. I’m not sure if it is just me…but that’s really not a lot is it!? Why do you guys think the birth rate in Japan is dropping?

You can read a more in-depth article by Anita Rani here. It focuses on the part of the show about men preferring anime and manga to real life women. Those in the UK can watch a clip of the two men with virtual girlfriends.

37 thoughts on “No sex please, we’re Japanese

  1. it’s quite surprising seeing how much weird porn they produce, haha. last year there was article, I cannot find it anymore, but it was about young generation of ‘female-guys’ – girls reject sex or physical contact because guys get more and more girly

  2. I read an article somewhere that was talking about this same issue. It’s rather unique because of Japan’s mono-cultural society. The norms and expectations there with regard to work are very high. People don’t have the time to go out and be bothered with “picking up” women. Japanese men are much more content just playing with their virtual girlfriends. It’s kind of sad, but totally understandable considering the circumstances.

  3. First off, Anita Rani is very annoying.

    And the “lack of time” excuse made by Frankie is completely at ends with “worried about the economy” – if you don’t have a job, chances are you have loads of time approaching women…and if you had the money but no time, at the very least you’d pay for prostitutes (not saying its right) to spend time with women. Why? Because they are men. Men like sex. Real sex.

    Something is obviously wrong with these guys. Blaming it on the above is stupid because other places in the world those excuses are debunked – time short salarymen going on dating sites catered for people like them; and those negative about jobs, life etc. seem to be the ones making the MOST kids in Britain, not the least – the chav class as we call them around here.

    Of course foreign (British, American, European) men are not oblivious to this. They are taking full advantage of the passivity of Japanese – and also Chinese men for that matter. Which is why you hear so many white men who go to the Far East – men who were previously social losers at home, becoming seemingly transformed into alpha male players and sleeping with a different girl every day of the week.

    quite simply, oriental men need to man up and grow backbones.

    • I didn’t find Anita too annoying…but that is the only thing I’ve seen her in so far! Give it time… 😀

      I think the idea is that people do have jobs so it does take up their time, but they’re not very good, dead end jobs. I don’t think it’s all wrong at all, a lot of the show made sense. The anime thing especially…they’re perfect girls that can fulfil a lot of needs of a girlfriend or at least the Japanese men THINK they’re fulfilling their needs. If they had a real girl they might think otherwise. .

      I think chavs have a little more going on than just being negative about life and jobs. They’re generally scummy people with a bad attitude! >_<

      I do think you are right though…a lot of them do need to man up!

  4. Also mentioned was lack of immigration and culture pigeonholing women into just become stay at home mothers with no hope of anything else. If these were true, why is it then in Africa – where immigration from non “traditional” countries is close to zero, the birth rate is so startlingly high? Same with India, indeed most of the southern continent.

    Additionally, in Africa, ME, South America their cultures dictate women stay at home – it is an extremely patriarchal society in much of these nations – yet the birth rate is incredibly high (indeed, monitors are saying that by increasing education and increasing women’s rights women will have more control over how many children are borne (like in the West) and thus have less children overall – so it makes zero sense that, Japan having the same patriarchal culture, allowing a more equality friendly one would encourage birth rates.

    Again these are just excuses to cover up the main reason – that the men don’t have the biological urge to chat up women.

    • Less contraception, less education on the matter and less women with western ideas of wanting a career? I very much doubt sex is talked about in the same way in Africa and India as it is in Japan.

      • Good point. I guess that is the problem with Japan. They are a patriarchal society like in Africa and ME, but unlike those areas the women are educated,and do have control of their own bodies. They are stuck between traditional and modern, with elements of each being wholly incompatible with each other

      • It’s less to do with following culture and more to do with what they want in life – become a mother and thus become dependent, or continue in a career as an independent woman. Unlike in the West, a woman cannot have both, their social security net and employment law essentially precludes Japanese mothers from having a career.

        What I meant above was that in other societies, the men had total control of everything – career, home – women’s only designated role in society was to have children and look after the home. Any woman who dared to do different – well, you hear it in the news often. Whereas Japan still had that old way of thinking, but the laws, rights and opportunities to women are more of a modern society. Only when they become mothers does it fall apart, which is why Japanese women see it as an either-or scenario. Whereas here if a woman has a kid, she can choose to go back to work immediately, take time off and go back, or quit and stay at home to look after them. They have that choice.

    • Mate, have you been to Japan before? Why did you think those men just need to man-up and this problem is solved? You sound as if you sort of think Asian men just don’t man-up for something/someone they want. If those Japanese men don’t fancy girls or sex, so why is the Japanese porn industry so developed? In Japan, trains have several special carriages for women only. You know why?! Attraction to opposite sex is natural and as long as you are a normal human you were born with it. Low birth rate is to do with both social and economic factors. If you have done GCSE Geography, you should know that for a wealthy/developed nation, the birth rate should be lower in comparison to a developing nation. Developing countries need a large working force to make the economy going and that’s why they usually have a high birth rate. But as the demand for labours changes from high to low when the society gets wealthier, people don’t want kids. Not a lot of people would sack an i-Pad in exchange for a kid.

      • And do you not think that sort of mindset is rather shallow? Preferring consumerism to children? Indeed the birth rate for developed nations should be lower, but that doesn’t explain why Japanese men are refraining from sex – real sex. Porn and sexual “tools” are also an issue amongst men in the west – but it is clearly grouped in the niche, the perverted, the few. The vast majority of men want real, physical, intimate sex with women. Not with their DS, not in front of their computer.

        By “manning up” doesn’t mean being attracted to women….it means breaking that confidence barrier that is preventing them from forming relationships with real women as opposed to virtual ones.

      • As for “You sound as if you sort of think Asian men just don’t man-up for something/someone they want. ” – this is exactly what it is. I live in a university city, plenty of Chinese and other oriental students. 100% of the men I come across do NOT engage in the opposite sex like white, black or asian (the British meaning) men do. Indeed they don’t even engage in eye contact in normal conversations that involve women, how are they supposed to build up a rapport that way?

        Nightlife – where most couples get together for some frisky stuff. Of the oriental men that are out, 99% of them are going to nightclubs and bars but the Chinese restaurant with fellow Chinese. No wonder there’s a negative reputation re: sex. Because that’s the reality.

    • So have you ever talked to them or all these are just based on your own theory/guess? Huh? A theory which hasn’t been proven cannot be totally true. If in the first place you don’t even understand the cultural differences, you will just keep looking at this issue from your western perspective, ignoring other factors. 100% of the men you came across don’t engage in the opposite sex like you lots. Why did you think in the first place that the way western-minded people flirt is the only way to get to know the opposite sex? It’s a bit like saying “All Asian men are not manning up enough.” In return I can also say “All western men are too horny or desperate to get to know women without wasting every single chance.” How about that? I have been to nightclubs and I think some western men are just crazy because they think they can do whatever they want to the girls as long as the girls have drunk enough. So did you think this is fair-said? Let me tell ya, such a thing doesn’t exist in our original culture because this is rude and disrespect for the women. And when you say 100%, what makes up that 100%? How many people are there to make your 100%? You said they don’t even have eye contact in normal conversations that involve women. How did you know? Is it because you knew who he fancied who he didn’t? You read someone’s mind? At my university place, I have never seen such people. You can’t just say all these based on whatever you see in only one place.

      • No, it’s based on statistics. 40% of East Asian women marry into other races in Britain, in America that is 60%. That figure is 5% for East Asians in the UK, 10% in the US. And you only have to look around to see it. For every East Asian man I see with a non East Asian woman, I would have seen 20+ white men with East asian women. It is not difficult to see the after effects.

        You keep on banging on about cultural differences – well yes, I don’t understand it, you’re using it as a catch all excuse. East Asian men are timid? Culture. East Asian men can’t get girls? Culture. Convenient to use in discussions, but hardly going to help them is it???

        Besides, what is culture? How you act, how you think? Which is precisely what I was referring to in the above posts regarding social contact.

        “Why did you think in the first place that the way western-minded people flirt is the only way to get to know the opposite sex? ”

        ….. er yes? People are (should be) a social creature. And provided you’re not gay or on a lad’s night out (and even then), men veer towards getting to know women. Because ultimately we know that will increase our chances of having a family, children. You seem to be extolling the virtues of social isolation????

      • Just butting into your heated discussion! I heard that in Japan, it’s rude to make too much eye contact with anyone, male or female. I don’t know if that is right or not.

      • Butt in all you want, it is your blog!

        That is what I mean, Davwong is passing off the social distancing between sexes as culture…. but that is precisely what needs to be changed. I’m not saying to take in the worst of what the west has to offer (frequent touching up of women in clubs, rape culture – it’s been in the news a lot recently exacerbated by all the freshers events. there was one where guys in a rugby club were given a competition to “bag” a fresher girl for every night of the week, points scored according to level of contact made), but clearly Japanese culture (and East Asian to a lesser extent) promotes this awkward divide that doesn’t help create friends, let alone relationships of a sexual nature.

      • Right, okay then, if you want to dig all this, I’ll help you dig. If you haven’t been to Asia, you can never feel it. How much knowledge you get from the books does not guarantee that you know the truth. And what the books or statistics tell you are just numerical facts but nothing else. Have you ever wondered why these low numbers come up? Huh? Or you just draw a conclusion that it is because Asian men don’t man up enough? This is a very shallow way of thinking too. Let me tell ya something, white people in Asia are treated differently from the way that the Asian men get treated in the western world. In Asia, white people are considered to be more attractive due to all sorts of stereotypes and their associated imagination, which most girls are good at. Have you ever thought about how all these happened? No one can man up at all times and manning-up is not a universal solution to all problems. If you think this way, that’s because you don’t understand the situation enough even though you think you really do. Have you read Sara’s blog? She is Finnish and has been in China for more than 3 or 4 years. She did write something about this and you’d better read it before banging on about all these are caused by the lack of “man-up” of Asian men. As I said, a thousand books cannot help you paint the picture when you have walked a thousand miles. I am not using culture as an excuse for everything. But indeed it plays a role in this sexual relationship matter and affects how you think. “People are (should be) a social creature. And provided you’re not gay or on a lad’s night out (and even then), men veer towards getting to know women. Because ultimately we know that will increase our chances of having a family, children.” This is just a scientific description. If you think getting to know a girl only means you can have kids and a family with her, why don’t you go for a prostitute then? She also has the ability to bring you a family. In fact, I bet you’ll do.

    • Ahh yes, I remember the show referring to them as “herbivores”.

      “Japan’s largest ad agency, Dentsu, reported that 60 percent of men in their early 20s and at least 42 percent of men between 23 and 34 consider themselves grass-eating men.”
      “Japanese dating agency, Partner Agent, surveyed unmarried men in their 30s and discovered that 60 percent of them claim to be herbivores.”
      “A Japanese insurance company, Lifenet, conducted a similar survey of men between 20 and 30 and found that 75 percent identified themselves as grass-eating men.” – Wow!

  5. Hmm, I certainly haven’t done any research on this topic but I think a big part of the problem is how the times are changing so quickly in Japan and it’s hard for the men in particular to adapt. Japanese women have gained a lot of independence and they will no longer put up with a husband who expects them to spend the entire day cooking and cleaning and tending to the children. Especially when this husband works long days, goes out drinking with his co-workers until late at night, and sometimes has a mistress on the side. Until more Japanese men catch up with the changing times, young women will see marriage as a trap and children as something that will keep them imprisoned in that trap forever. I’m just basing this on what I’ve heard from some of the younger Japanese women who’ve moved to America so this is by no means fact. Great post.

    • You seem to be equating “introverted, timid hermits” = “misogynist alpha men with archaic views on women’s place in society”. They are two completely different sets of people. What’s worrying is that many continue to use this excuse whilst shying away from reality.

      Japanese women, like western women, have gained massive levels of independence during the past few generations. Using your logic, women here and in the US would not be having children with men, period – since equality is far more evident in the West than Japan – yet that is not the case. Men here still go out drinking late at night, they still hold sexist attitudes (google rape culture), and both men and women have affairs.

      To attribute these behaviours to the types of Japanese men we saw in the programme – shy social outcasts that wouldn’t hurt a fly, and most likely would stop at anything if a REAL woman actually paid some attention to him – suggests to me that many women who “criticise” these men have a different agenda at stake – to continue rabbiting on about how men should “weaken” themselves when it is obvious these men are already docile.

    • I definitely think culture is one of the main issues, either with men not catching up with the times or just having too many distractions. If this is the view of some Japanese women, it’s no wonder they moved to America! Who’d want to boyfriend/husband who is never there and has a mistress?! >_<

      Thanks 🙂

      • Watch this, it’s not too long

        Seems the Japanese women are just as likely to put off relationships as men, but in different ways. Where the men retreat to virtual girls and cartoon porn, women go to “host” bars and concentrate on being career women. That girl who was offering cuddling services (!) saying she wanted to kill couples that showed public affection…. that was creepy

  6. One theory is that humans may have reached a point where they no longer need one another for sexual or emotional gratification — it’s just a natural progression to the next stage in the ongoing process of human evolution. In addition to the Japanese men with their virtual girlfriends, there is the Taiwanese woman who married herself and the Korean guy who married a pillow:

    • I don’t think it’s a natural stage in human evolution when excluding sexual relationships from your life means not passing on your genes.

      That’s called extinction.

      • Not necessarily. It would only lead to extinction if you take the simplistic view that, for humans, sexual attraction/coitus and reproduction are inseparable. I think we have moved well beyond that. First, most of the sexual activity that people engage in these days has nothing to do with reproduction; it’s for pleasure. Second, artificial insemination is a technology that has long been available, so men no longer need to bonk women to get them pregnant.

        This is just some crazy-ass conjecture on my part, but I can imagine a future where people no longer take responsibility for parenting their own children. Instead, they just provide the biological ingredients necessary for reproduction and the state, or society collectively, will take over. Just as we have public nursing homes for the elderly now, we will have public “nursery homes” for raising and educating children. Private individuals will no longer be burdened with parenting duties and so the conflict between children and profession career will no longer exist — for men and women. Women won’t even have to put up with the pain and risks of pregnancy and childbirth because we will have artificial wombs. The society, the nation, and indeed the human species will thus be perpetuated. :p

      • You’re seperating the two points, artificial insemination and sex (natural reproduction). I don’t see any Japanese men who are foregoing sexual contact reproducing through other means – in fact I don’t see any man worldwide, other than gay couples, going to a woman to be artificially impregnated. The most common use of IVF is for infertile couples. Thus these men are indeed “evolving” themselves into extinction.

        As for your wider perspective of a society where sex is only for pleasure and where childbirth is seperated from the body (presimably grown in incubators) – what sort of a soulless world would that be? Radical feminists have thrown about the idea of that for decades now, that once technology allows it they no longer have to be “shackled” with the “problem” of giving birth. Much like how filmstars adopt children instead of having their own (eg Angelina Jolie), because heaven forbid if it ruins their figure and gives them saggy skin.

        As for your point about parenting being controlled by the state and society – we already do that to an extent, single mothers who do not work are paid for by those who do. So we are “looking after” her and her children, with our money. And I believe we tried that in the 1900s…. they called them workhouses and orphanages. Where hundreds of children lived, played, ate and slept together. I couldn’t think of a more disastrous outcome for children if that came to be. Devoid of intimate compassion with your family. The pain of childbirth is rewarded with hat unique bond that only a child and their mother has. Many would say it was nature’s way of ensuring the child had the best chance of survival – for the mother to be so emotionally invested in them (through pain) that they would do whatever they could to make sure they had the best chance of a good life, opportunities etc.

        Despite parents increasingly delegating childminding to nurseries and such due to increased workload, I think you’ll find they don’t want it this way – indeed, the very fact that you worded parenting duties as a “burden” shows that you don’t think as parents do – that raising your children is a privilege, a joy, not a hindrance. I guess you could say the Japanese men and women mentioned above are of the same mindset as you – it’s a pity many will not get to experience creating and forming life until it’s too late.

  7. Pingback: Boyfriends for Hire in Japan | AMERICAN HIKIKOMORI FILM BLOG

  8. People often focus on Japanese “weirdness” in relation to sex, but the trend in Japanese fertility rates is not extremely aberrant compared to worldwide trends. Most developed European and Asian countries are below replacement and many countries have even less children than Japan (Spain, Greece, Hong Kong).

    You can look up some statistics here

    There is some evidence that this low fertility trend is reversing itself due to selection pressures where those who have a genetic predisposition to have multiple children are starting to dominate the next generation. Although Japan is still below replacement, there has been an upward tick in their fertility rate for example going from 1.2 to 1.4 per couple. This has been noted in other places also; I think Australia and some other countries have increasing, but still below replacement level fertility rates.

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