in Japan, the worry is about a libido crisis. The birthrate is falling fast. By 2060, the population is expected to go down by a third, and, by 2100, if trends continue, by 61 percent. In 2011, sales of adult diapers in Japan exceeded those of baby diapers. It’s an urgent national problem: there isn’t enough procreation.
To examine Japanese attitudes toward sex, the Japan Family Planning Association interviewed 3,000 subjects, both male and female, about their sex lives. The group found that 49.3 percent of participants (48.3 percent of men, 50.1 percent of women) had not had sex in the past month. 21.3 percent of married men said they were too tired after work (versus 17.8 percent of women). Of men, 15.7 percent answered that they were no longer interested, after having children. 23.8 percent of women said sex was “bothersome.”
There are a number of diagnoses for this aversion to the bedroom. Morinaga Takuro, an economic analyst and TV personality, believes this has something to do with attractiveness. He has suggested a “handsome tax”: “If we impose a handsome tax on men who look good to correct the injustice only slightly, then it will become easier for ugly men to find love, and the number of people getting married will increase.”
Takuro writes a lament for the men in love with “2D female characters from anime and manga.” He expressed, in the Asahi Shimbun, “I want to tell them that human women are also great fun!” Technology, of course, gets blame: virtual worlds, not to mention porn.
But many, especially alarmed to see that more than 20 percent of men between 25-29 say they have little interest in sex, see the low interest in sex as part of economic depression. A Japanese columnist named Maki Fukasawa observes an increase in a group of men he’s dubbed “herbivores”: heterosexual guys who, in contrast to “carnivorous” businessmen, live without expression of sexuality. Angelika Koch, a Cambridge University scholar, author of Manga Girl Seeks Herbivore Boy, sees “a subversion of the traditional male role of the Japanese ‘salaryman’: the corporate male in suit and tie who dedicates his life to his company as breadwinner for his family, the sexually assertive man who spends his evenings drinking with colleagues at hostess clubs and bars.”
Whatever the case, it’s an urgent government concern. In 2014, aware of the dangers of becoming a nation of old folks, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set aside 3 billion yen ($30 million) for programs aimed at boosting the birthrate, including matchmaking programs.