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Japan survey on asexual, aromantic people reveals the terms are not black and white

A screenshot of survey results published by the Japan group "As Loop."

KYOTO -- The findings of a survey on the sexual and romantic inclinations of people who identify as asexual or aromantic have been made public by a Japan-based group, with some answers showing a nuance in the concepts. The survey also revealed these peoples' painful experiences due to a lack of understanding by others.

    The survey was conducted by "As Loop," an organization that aims to share accurate information about people who identify as asexual (those who don't have any interest in sex) or aromantic (those who don't hold any romantic feelings toward other people). The group's predecessor was founded by researchers and asexual/aromantic individuals in 2018. While the general public's understanding of the LGBTQ community has grown in recent years, asexual and aromantic people have remained largely unknown. Noticing a lack of surveys taken of people in their community in Japan, the group has been conducting online questionnaires since 2020.

    Last year's survey took place in June, and its findings were published in December. It asked participants around 100 questions, such as about their self-identified sexual orientation, whether they were seeking a romantic partner, and whether they felt any sexual desire. The survey received around 2,300 responses.

    The survey found that 90% of aromantic respondents answered "no" or "not really" when asked whether they would like to date someone. When asked whether they think they have any sexual desire, 69% of asexuals answered, "I think so," or "I kind of think so," however 92% responded either "no" or "not really" when asked if they ever feel like getting sexually involved with someone else. The survey showed that many asexual people do feel sexual desire, even if they do not feel a need for anyone else.

    The survey also asked whether participants wished for a partner to have a romantic or sexual relationship, and 71% responded that they do not. However, a majority gave affirmative answers when asked if they hoped for some form of non-romantic and non-sexual partner. Those hoping for a single such partner comprised 43%, those hoping for multiple such partners stood at 8%, while 15% hoped to find a group, showing that there is a variety of partnerships sought by these individuals.

    The survey also asked for respondents' experiences. Some shared that they have been told things such as, "You just haven't found the right person yet," or "You aren't interested in people." Others have been treated as though they are ill, being told, "Good luck with your mental health treatment."

    "As Loop" is calling for people to be careful which expressions they use, with words such as "soshoku-kei," or "herbivore" -- a term used to describe men who are seen as not pursuing women aggressively enough -- on their list of potentially hurtful phrases. According to the group, "People who aren't sexually or romantically drawn to others exist, too. We want people to know that the topic of romantic love is not something that's universal to all human beings."

    The survey's full results have been published on the group's website, in Japanese only, at

    (Japanese original by Kotaro Chigira, Kyoto Bureau)

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