Bradcat’s Japanese Culture Focus… Sex in Japan

An article was recently published in The Guardian titled “Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?” by Abigail Haworth. The article has caused a bit of a stir on the internet, with rival newspapers writing counter articles, people making videos on YouTube in response, and bloggers like myself, ranting on their pages.

The article explores multiple reasons for the decline in newborns, and why young people are shying away from the bedroom. I’ll try my best to outline some of the key points for you:


With the rise of modern technology, teenage boys are finding themselves drawn in by simulation games. Why bother to go out and do the real thing, when you can simulate that activity via a video game in the comfort of your own home? That’s fine for sports simulations, or activities that might be beyond your normal parameters, but what about dating sims? 

That’s right, you can now have your very own virtual girlfriend (or boyfriend) without having to deal with the “baggage” of a relationship. You can turn your companion on or off, as and when you see fit. Many of these young Japanese males take these simulations on journeys with them to work! 

But do these virtual spouses match the real thing? Many of these people would say yes, with some males keeping hold of their simulation games for several years, longer than most real world marriages.


It’s not just the lonely Otaku males, hiding away in their bedrooms that are avoiding relationships. Women are too. Many middle aged women are avoiding relationships, and marriage in fear of becoming pregnant and having that interfere with their careers. One woman who was interviewed for the article in The Guardian said;

“The bosses assume you will get pregnant.” Once a woman does have a child, she adds, the long, inflexible hours become unmanageable. “You have to resign. You end up being a housewife with no independent income. It’s not an option for women like me.”


Japan is a country with deep roots in tradition. It has only recently started to break away from the archaic family roles. In the 80’s the “Salaryman” was born. The husband was labeled as the breadwinner of the household, while the wife would stay at home to cook and clean. Many Western countries dropped these gender roles as early as the 60’s, while in Japan these structures can still be found.

This is why a lot of middle aged males avoid relationships, as they feel pressured into providing for their entire family during Japan’s financial crisis.

What does this all mean for Japan? 

Well for starters with fewer younger people, this will mean more old people to support a few years down the line. The elderly will look down to the younger generations and say “I’ve paid my dues, I’ve worked hard to create this world for you, now it’s your turn to look after me.” If you imagine a triangle representing the population of Japan. At the moment, there is a large population (at the base), supporting a small number of elderly people (at the top). However if this trend continues, we will see an inverted triangle with a smaller population supporting a large number of elderly people. This will no doubt cause even more worries for Japan.

What are your views on this issue? You can read the article for yourself by clicking here