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Is lack of financial freedom causing more unmarried people to give up on sex?

Since the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research released the results of its 15th Japanese National Fertility Survey conducted in 2015, things have been pretty frantic for me. A highlight of this survey was the finding that, among unmarried people aged 18 to 34, 42.0 percent of men and 44.2 percent of women said they had never had sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex. Both figures were up from the previous survey.

    I have received a stream of requests from the media in Japan for comments, and also appeared in a program on the internet TV station AbemaTV featuring journalist Soichiro Tahara and Horiemon (entrepreneur Takafumi Horie). I had always said that sex is something that couples decide themselves to do and is not an issue for people to quibble over, so I've been taken aback by this. That being said, I still had to prepare some kind of comment, so I analyzed the results from the seventh survey on the lifestyles and awareness of men and women that I conducted in 2014. Lo and behold I found a similar result.

    In that survey, the figures were 42.9 percent for men and 42.1 percent for women aged 18 to 34. Looking closely at the data, another interesting statistic became clear. I examined the figures for the 252 unmarried men and 201 unmarried women and their answers on whether they had had sexual experience. Though it may be only natural for people who have never had sex to say it's a pain to get involved with people of the opposite sex, or that they have no interest, I focused on the fact that men and women who didn't drink or smoke hadn't had sexual intercourse.

    When I wrote the book "Sekkusu Girai na Wakamonotachi" (Sex-averse young people), I interviewed so-called "herbivorous males" who have little interest in the opposite sex, and found that many of them did not drink or smoke. The reason for this, unfortunately, was not due to heightened health awareness -- it turned out that being unable to afford to do so played a part.

    National Tax Agency statistics show that the average annual pay for salaried workers was 4.14 million yen in 2013 and 4.15 million yen in 2014 -- roughly the same level. But these figures are well below the 4.67 million yen listed in 1997. In 2014, the average age of salaried workers was 45.5 while the average number of years worked was 12. The disparity between men and women was 1.9 times. It goes without saying that the annual salaries of those who the survey pointed out had no sexual experience were lower. They say that facing excessive mobile phone and smartphone expenses, romantic relationships are out of the question.

    According to the 2015 White Paper on Information and Communications in Japan, released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the proportion of households with mobile phones topped 90 percent at the end of 2003, and since 2009 the number of landlines has been on the decline. Ownership of smartphones, which first appeared in 2010, has surged, with 64 percent having them as of the end of 2014. It would appear that that the rise in the proportion of people with no sexual experience from the previous survey in 2010 is not entirely unrelated to this trend. (By Kunio Kitamura, Japan Family Planning Association Clinic director)

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