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Young Japanese women becoming less interested in sex, survey says

By Steven Simonitch

For the past few years, Japan has been in a fuss about "soshoku danshi," literally translated as “herbivore boys.” These are young men who represent the antithesis of the rowdy, skirt-chasing, big-spending corporate man associated with the 1980s bubble economy: they’re passive, conservative with money, prefer to stay in instead of going out drinking with coworkers and are generally uninterested in sex.

Such personal lifestyle choices wouldn’t be considered problematic if Japanese society wasn’t struggling with a declining birthrate and low consumer spending. But when an ever-increasing portion of your male population is enjoying their evening with a cup of tea at the local manga cafe when you need them to be out buying cars and procreating, you’ve got a situation on your hands.

To make matters worse, a survey conducted by The Japanese Association for Sex Education (JASE) reveals that the number of young Japanese women who have had sex has decreased dramatically over the past 6 years.

Perhaps the ladies of Japan have finally given up on trying to get their male counterparts into bed and joined convent themselves.

JASE conducts the survey once every six years to gain insight into the sexual awareness of Japan’s young generation. The latest survey was taken from October 2011 to February 2012 and polled approximately 7,770 students in junior high schools, high schools and universities from across the country.

While the percentage of sexually active female university and high school students had followed an upward trend since the survey began in 1974, it peaked in 2005 at about 60% for university students and 30% for high school students and then dropped to 47% for university students and 24% for high school students in 2011.

Kazuo Katase, a professor at Tohoku University and member of the JASE research committee, believes these results show that many young Japanese females are succumbing to the “herbivore” lifestyle as well.

The survey suggests that the herbivore boys continue to increase in number as well: the percentage of sexually active male university students dropped from 60% in 2005 to 54% in 2011 and the number of male high school students dropped from 27% to 15%.

And it doesn’t stop there:according to the same survey, the percentage of students who have ever kissed dropped from 72% to 66% for university boys, 72% to 73% for university girls, 48% to 37% for high school boys and 52% to 44% for high school girls.

Of course, just because less young people are having sex, it doesn’t mean that they’re not interested in sex. Perhaps young people in Japan are just being more chaste than their parents were. Or maybe they’ve just got other outlets.

Source: Asahi Shinbun

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not enough information provided to make decision. Need to know what they do to replace sex. Where do they get their sex, since they are sexually active? What are their testosterone levels: are they decreasing or increasing? what is their sperm count? Do they know that sex is enjoyable and can increase blood flow, prolong life and ease tension? It could be a bigger environmental problem affecting libido than just calling it a herbivore thing ...

And for women, what is the ratio of sexually active women to men? what role could the economic situation play for working women or to be mothers? what are the opportunities and time available to meet suitors? How free is the society on sex issues? Is there any parental or religious guidance on relationships and sex? Are their any back ups in case indigenous japanese are not performing? eg are their enough gaijins (usually more outgoing, confident, versatile and sexually active) to go round to replace the lazy and cowardly locals? etc, etc. ...more social, economic, ecological, psychological studies needed please...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Not surprising really, seeing that more and more Japanese men are becoming self obsessive walking haidos, with crushes on anime / game characters. Don't believe me.....get on any train and you'll notice at least one couple sitting together, the guy absorbed in his keitai, whilst his desperate for attention girlfriend tries to capture their image together in her phone camera. She pouts, makes duck-face kissy lips.....but he hardly diverts his gaze from his digital haven !

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Not sure if "Japanese women less interested in sex" is a proper conclusion from these data.

If you have a product that you can't sell, does that mean you are less interested in money?

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Do not worry, about vegetarian J boys, many J girls know many of us gaijin boys, men eat our veggies and meat and can give them good lovin too!

-16 ( +9 / -25 )

This research is a classic example of asking the right questions and then leaping to the wrong conclusion.

It doesn't take a genius to look around Japan and realise what is wrong. Japanese sexual stereotypes are of shy, cute girls, and assertive, handsome guys. Cute? J-girls do their best to do that. Handsome? The J-boys are likewise doing their best.

... the problem comes in when you compare the law with the attitudes J-guys are supposed to display. How precisely does a guy get to first base in country where the girls are told to be shy and cute, and respond to advances with cute, "dame, dame".... but if you move in for a kiss or a cuddle and they really did mean "dame" then they yell "Chikan!!!" and you're in deep legal trouble.

In western countries the sexual stereotypes have shifted so that women can now communicate more clearly, but in Japan the sexual stereotypes remain, resulting in a situation where it's simply too risky for the boys to take a chance, and the girls can't take the lead or they'll be seen as "man'ish" .

This has broader legal implications too, when there's a rape case many people bemoan the light sentences, but honestly the Judges know the score, and they know how difficult it can be to tell the "cute" litany of "dame, dame, itaii" that J-girls are taught is "sexy" from a real "dame, dame, itai".

Simple solution? Issue j-girls with three little cards, green, yellow and red. They can show the appropriate card to a boy and he knows where he stands.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

It's pretty hard to be interested in a man who cares more about his manicure and hairstyle than you do about yours........

11 ( +12 / -3 )

I guess the crackdowns by the morals police on the more egregious types of pornographic manga and enjo kosai are actually achieving their intended aims.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It cant be true, when will those surveys goto carry out their surveys over Japanese adult video industry and they will get the big picture!

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

At least as I head home alone on a Friday night,i can take comfort in knowing the stats were against me anyway!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Young women are still interested in sex it is just that they have discovered that it can be sold like a commodity.

Why waste time on a boyfriend when you can work in the prolific sex trade aka the snack?

In Japan sex=money!

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Hope these results are wrong. In a country that is not producing children at a rate sufficient to sustain itself, having both young men and young women less intested in sex canot be a good thing.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

when you need them to be out buying cars and procreating, you’ve got a situation on your hands

Just can't resist it... Are they supposed to be procreating with the cars ? In the cars ?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Now if we can study it and learn what is happening, then spread it around the world, end of overpopulation problem.[Grin]

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Funny article, but it only deals with young women. If the survey was conducted on women in their 30's and 40's I am sure the results would be much different. Married women in those age brackets don't care about sex, but the single ones? Well, that is a completely different story. :D

1 ( +3 / -2 )

they’re passive, conservative with money, prefer to stay in instead of going out drinking with coworkers and are generally uninterested in sex.

Well, condoms do cost money, and pregnancy costs far more. With taxes increasing and salaries slumping, doesn't really help now does it.

From observations of colleges here, it's not about sex. It's about dating in general, and the fact that "one night stands and sex friends are bad" lines that have been fed to them since infancy prevent them from disassociating sex from stable relationships. Since relationship rates have not increased (perhaps have decreased), that difference from older generations leads to the results here.

Sex has been made such a taboo for people outside relationships that it actually stops relationships from forming. Even more than that, an act as simple as holding hands or kissing has been made to be practically sex. What Japan needs is reeducation, less separate schooling (gym class should be co-ed mainly, so they learn that not all contact is sexual) and less prejudice against experimentation.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

So, young women should engage more in promiscuous sex to save the population of Japan? They can do what they want, with whom they want, it's not up to society to decide.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Will there be a corresponding decrease in the number of love motels across Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )


Married women in those age brackets don't care about sex [women in their 30's and 40's]

I wonder where you got that idea?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Anyone who makes any kind of assumption from these statistics is probably either a) incapable of analytical thought b) has too much time on their hands or both.

Who knows whether these answers were real or not? The number surveyed compared to the total population is a drop in the bucket.
-12 ( +2 / -14 )

it's not up to society to decide.

If only that were true! Society is deciding, and it seems to be unthinking basterds who think they are morally superior to every body else who get their hooks in.

Japanese kids these days have no time and no place to so much as play doctor. Teens are too busy at school and with clubs and homework, even during so called vacations, to have any sort of sexual contact. And sex is a use it or lose it deal, and all those experiences one is supposed have even in childhood are VITAL. If they don't get them, what we get are asexual adults of both sexes, plus people who are just completely inept with regard to the opposite sex even if they want it.

The moral blowhards are really getting their way, and this is result. Oh yeah, people piss and moan about porn and erotic anime and whatnot, but that is not real sex and its not even close to real sexual contact. Its just fantasy. And that is exactly why the sex haters in this country don't bother with them much. They control the reality. They control the schools. They control the so-called "moral education". They have more real power here than their western counterparts who always whine and complain about porn and teen sex, even despite the numbers of unfair arrests. In Japan, everybody in school has their lives so micromanaged, hardly any of them have the time to do anything sexual. So by the time they reach adulthood, they have been neutered.

The sex haters are digging Japan's grave. They put the brakes on too much before, but with certain western laws and ideals infiltrating, things have gotten out of hand. In our modern, sterile, unnatural societies, adults have to teach about sex, and I mean really TEACH, not fear monger. But they are not being taught and the state of society ensures they never really learn naturally. And that brings to right where Japan is today. Sexual frequency is down. The birthrate is down. Dating is down. Yet AIDs rates increase and abortion is high. Thank you enforced ignorance!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Ahem Modesty forbids, but the findings from my research on this subject in Japan do not match the conclusions reached here......

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Having a romantic relationship is the most important thing in life.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

TamaramaAug. 12, 2012 - 12:56PM JST

Ahem Modesty forbids, but the findings from my research on this subject in Japan do not match the conclusions reached here......

Do tell. No sense in posting a useless teaser comment.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

BertieWoosterAug. 12, 2012 - 12:36PM JST

Anyone who makes any kind of assumption from these statistics is probably either a) incapable of analytical thought b) has too much time on their hands or both. ... The number surveyed compared to the total population is a drop in the bucket.

Analytical thought requires things like statistics on some level or other. In the case of this survey, we expect a maximum error of 1.1%. The sample size is large, and the population is much larger (~13million), so it is actually a fairly accurate poll if the questions are unbiased and sample is random.

1 ( +3 / -2 )


I'm not sure what your beef is with the survey. If it's reasonably well designed (although we can't tell from the article how it's designed) then 7,770 should be an adequate sample to draw some conclusions. Even if not all of the respondents are completely truthful, the results should still be reliable enough to be useful for comparing results from one survey to another to identify trends.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It should read: Less Japanese women interested in sex poor guys, or with their husbands and boyfriends, or with Japanese guys.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This trend seemed to have begun when I left Japan. Maybe I should move back.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Whilst the survey might be worth reading, the article is not.

I'm not sure who wrote it and it was likely translated.

Just read the headline and then the last paragraph...what a contradiction.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

People are either too overworked to care about life anymore or the opposite:

Young people waking up and starting to wonder if there's more meaning to life than just work, sex, money, alcohol, and material possessions.

Really, since World War 2, the youth of this country have had ultra-materialistic values shoved down their throat telling them that their individuality or happiness doesn't matter, and the only thing to live for is their career. And what is their only escape or release from their day to day mechanical lifestyle??? Vice. Pure and simple Vice. Drinking, sex shops, other sexual perversion, TV, pachinko, cigarettes, and video games. It's not constructive behavior, nor is it truly relaxing or spending quality time with their friends.

Maybe nowadays, there's a new breed of Japanese man emerging who's tired of the miserable loop of salaryman life, an is looking for answers elsewhere. ....... and perhaps there's also a new breed of Japanese woman sick and tired of the loneliness of the prospects of being either a housewife or a sex object of said salarymen and pursuing the same answers.

I think this new brand of Japanese youth will rediscover love and sex in time, but not until they've had a moment of time and peace away from all the noise of modern society to discover themselves and the TRUE meaning of life.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This is just a phase. No worries.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Young women of independent spirit have no need of complicating relationships. Those who have the income would prefer to go to 'host clubs' where pretty boys will massage their ego needs while sipping expensive drinks bought for them by the girls.

In some places, there is the option of paying a little more for sexual attention later.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

incognito12Aug. 12, 2012 - 03:30PM JST

This is just a phase. No worries.

Statistical trends say otherwise... Just look at how few children are born. There's basically more 65+ people today than 0-25, and avoiding sex will just make it worse. Just imagine what will happen when you're left with a few dozen kids per area and they all avoid the opposite sex like the plague.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Maybe in Japan young people have found other interests. The article's last sentence might contain the clue: it says: "Or maybe they’ve just got other outlets." In many western countries drugs wins on sex, so why not in Japan? And by the way, alcohol and smoking are drugs too.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

any correlation to the number of JET teachers in the country? Sure many fooled around but also many more had serious girlfriends and all that I knew in Japan are now married there, so life goes on.

Even when I was there a while back young people would rarely talk to one another just normally, it was rather odd. The level of expectations of both men and women are perhaps getting far out of kilter just for people to be comfortable with one another.

I seriously doubt these stats are from Osaka! A breakdown city by city would be more realistic rather than a blanket statistic.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Not according to what you can find on the internet, my own personaI statistics, they aren't, maybe to committed relationships but NOT sex. How many 'dating', delivery health and water services does one country need? I mean, seriousIy young Japanese women are VERY interested in sex.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

YongYang: ...Not according to what you can find on the internet, my own personaI statistics...

Sounds like a disturbed stalker. This is troubling, hope someone takes notice...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I agree with some of the other posters here. This survey is inconclusive and misrepresented. Several years ago, there was another survey that stated women were finding it hard to get a boyfriend while the guys stated clearly that they would rather remain single, as Japanese girls had/have too many demands, or no interest in doing anything their bfs wanted to do.

Younger people are becoming more aware of the harsh reality of life after school and as Japan increases its adoption of western influence, both sexes are broadening their interests further afield outside of their nation.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

While I am skeptical of most surveys of this nature, I would tend to believe this one. The current generation has shown strong tends of wishing to avoid hassles. A significant percentage do not want cars. The number of Japanese studying in foreign universities have dropped. Young company employees do not want to be sent abroad. Etc. Sex, unfortunately, is a hassle. At its best sex involves a committed human relationship. That is a hassle. Even one night stands are a hassle because it involves limited but often confused intimate interaction.

The question is why is this happening now? Is it the economy? Or is it something else?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

LOL. So it looks like they won't be studying English to date Aussie men anymore...?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Takahiro: Sounds like a disturbed stalker. This is troubling, hope someone takes notice...

Sounds like a head in the sand salary man. No one takes notice.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

the internet and 3g phones are way funner

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It felt like it been that way long ago, I mean Japanese and otakus worry more about the latest game and anime more so over a girl. Reason Japanese girls interest with foreigners grew such as British or American cause they know they'd get cared for, nothing wrong with that yepppp.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Gigamax: And sex is a use it or lose it deal, and all those experiences one is supposed have even in childhood are VITAL.

That's just not true at all

0 ( +1 / -1 )

high school age kids being less sexually active would be applauded where I'm from.

Who knows if this is real? If it is, I suspect is has less to do with lack of interest in sex itself, and more to do with some kind of general malaise, lack of self-confidence and esteem, etc. in the country as a whole.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Those not interested in sex will remove themselves from the gene pool. The population left will be smaller and within Japans ability to feed and provide power. This is post Corporate Japan, a poor country of about 40 million. The rich will own factories located outside of Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This survey has got to have an error rate of +or- 25%. I just can't fathom young Japanese kids talking about taboo with someone with a pad or recording device. "Perhaps young people in Japan are just being more chaste than their parents were. Or maybe they’ve just got other outlets." poorly worded, -perhaps being more chase. I would like to think theye are products of good upbringing, in others words we (parents) are getting through to them. The declining rates is a dream come true to parents. I hope they are celebrating the declining rates, especially in the schools, and in the universities for that matter. I hope the call to procriate does not include them. I would love to see such a survey done on 20 somethings. After children become adults in Japan and a few years thereafter. Maybe 20 - 29 group.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I understand their issue, but the thing is that if you have too much sex is a problem, if you don't its also a problem, then what?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Keep your chastities, student girls, hahaha!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

no problem. japanese boys are just interested in pachinko and playstation. japanese woman are just interested to have cute stuffs and going to travel alone. result of the material world

1 ( +1 / -0 )

well at least they are smart. no teen pregnancies stds, problems in life etc. BUT i think they are having unsafe sex or something cause there is a gonorrhea outbreak in japan, it's antibiotic resistance, they cant find any antibiotic medicine to cure it so this survey not true

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Maybe these women have never acatually had good sex. I can't quite understand how many women in the rest of the world look forward to sex while many Japanese women do not. The men of Japan had better step up their game.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

@kurisupisuAug. 12, 2012 - 10:26AM JST

Are you know how many cost and where buy it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It would be interesting to see if there is any correlation between the apparent lack of interest in sex and being an only child.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

So let me get this straight... kids are not out partying, drinking, having sex, getting pregnant, and overall being more responsible, accountable and mature. And this is a problem why?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Perhaps young people in Japan are just being more chaste than their parents were. Or maybe they’ve just got other outlets.

Maybe the last few sentences in this Asahi Shimbum article has it right. I think young people in Japan are now more interested in careers, their education, and other things rather than recreational intercourse.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I look around and there are so many young Japanese with kids, I'm starting to doubt these figures.

Judging by the number of new enterances to AV world, these stats must be collected from the wrong people.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yep, the stats must be wrong or they didn't ask the right Qs. Jgirls go off faster than sashimi.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ppl talking about lower stds, careful.

I think the rates are very high here, actually. Even if the overall percent having sex is slightly lower, the ones doing it often have really no idea of safe sex, and stds, hep, aids are running at a hi rate. Also explains the large amount of young pregnancies that some commenters commented on. Sex ed has been traditionally under-par here, and the overall attitudes in society of "kankei nai" and "it couldn't happen to me" are prevalent ime.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Better still females who are not interested and want to be, please email me. (Minors not allowed)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When people get used to the mode of inter- personal 'communication' electronically; When words from mouth are better conveyed via SMS, ICQ to avoid face-to-face contact; When emotional & physical needs are conveniently met by virtual scenes & imaginations -- Too troublesome to 'bother' others when all can be done by oneself ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Would answer the same myself, having some hentai ask me about my sex life. If some men are not interested in sex it is up to the rest to step up to the plate and do their duty to the Emperor. Women it is time to be less choosy and if you like a herbivore boy, time for you to take action.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What a news....hehehehe

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just because more young women are not having sex, doesn't mean they are not interested in having sex!

Also, this decrease could be due to many reasons. Perhaps young women are more into their studies so they can get a good career. Or maybe they are more educated about sex and don't want to risk getting pregnant or getting an STD. Or possibly they are choosing to wait until they are in a solid relationship. Plus does Japan really want all their high school students having sex!

It cannot be assumed from this study that Japanese women are less interested in sex because the herbivore guys aren't interested in sex. Why didn't they ask WHY these women (and men) were not having sex?!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What is this survey? They did that survey to high school students?? Soon they will do it with Junior High School and elementary schools. The country with no morals will go down. The early sex and sex before marriage is the worst psychological problem to every one in family, society and national level.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not a surprise given the way they have been treated in this patriarchal society full of insecure men. Only since they are able to compare (through travels, the internet, etc.) they are beginning to understand what lie they have been served for hundreds or thousands of years.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I appreciate the surveys that investigate this and I'm always one to say "look where the evidence goes" and even "anecdotes are often not as useful as hard evidence..." but I have to say... anecdotally, I just can't see this at all. I mean... I live in Japan. I never see these fabled 'sexually uninterested' females or whatever.

Girls might report that they aren't interested in sex, but that's just shyness, humility, or embarrassment. When you get a bunch of close girl friends together, then you hear all the talk about wanting to have sex.

And this "herbivore males" thing just sounds like such nonsense to me. I'd love to conduct my own research with this, because I never know how researchers collect their data. But then, I dunno how many journals would be interested in publishing an article that says "Japanese men wanna have sex with girls; Japanese girls wanna have sex with guys." It's not exactly a scientific breakthrough.

All I know is that I've seen these results many many times, so I could be wrong. But anecdotally... I just don't see it. And I don't buy it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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