The two primary ingredients to make a family – sex and marriage – are in dramatic decline today in Japan. Young adults in the Land of the Rising Sun are losing interest in romantic relationships in startling numbers and this is showing itself even in marriage. It is why Japan has one of the lowest birthrates in the world and one of the fastest aging populations. Neither of those are healthy trends for that lovely country’s future.

Dr. Masahiro Yamada, a leading professor of sociology from Tokyo’s Chuo University finds “about 25 percent of today’s youth in Japan will probably remain single and unmarried for their entire lives” and many of them, more than half, show no interest in sexual relationships whatsoever. That is a truly startling statistic.

The South China Morning Post says women like Yoko are becoming far too common. “She wants to have a baby, but she and her husband never have sex,” they explain, adding “Her husband loves video games and food, but he’s not interested in sex.” Nearly half of husbands and wives in Japan tell researchers they have not had sexual relations for more than a month and express little interest in doing so in the foreseeable future.

Of course, marriage is certainly about much more than sexual intimacy, but it is difficult to sustain a marriage without it. It turns a married couple into mere roommates or co-parents. Sadly, the researchers say this trend has grown briskly over the last two decades with 32 percent of Japanese respondents reporting a sexless marriage in 2004 and 47 percent describing their relationship this way today.

Much of this has to do with both technology and shrinking reserves of mere human energy. Too many hours given to work and gaming. Increasingly, men who work extremely long hours in the Japanese economy, and most of them do, report having no energy for sex when they return home. Currently, 35.2 percent of Japanese men say work leaves them “too tired” for intercourse — a dramatic increase over the 21.3 percent of men who said so in 2014. In fact, Japanese workers work longer days than nearly everyone else in the world. Overwork is such a severe problem in Japan they even have a word for when someone literally works themselves to death: karoshi.

Add in the extra time required by commuting to and from work, and too many workers find little energy for anything else. Most of them end up playing video games in their free time to unwind, which is certainly not conducive to romantic developments. This is one of the causes of the decline in marriage itself. Young men addicted to video games are not developing the confidence and personality to go out and develop a relationship with a prospective wife. They represent a whole generation of young men who do not even know how to approach a young woman, much less have to courage to ask her out or the creativity to plan a respectable date. So their female peers pour themselves into their work, hoping at least to be able to build some sort of meaningful life there. Meanwhile, tomorrow’s families fail to form.

Of course, this is not singularly a Japanese problem. It is happening in most developed countries around the globe to varying degrees. It is simply most pronounced in this very energetic culture. But given that it is aging at such a dramatic rate and failing to reproduce itself, it will not remain energetic for long. You need babies to keep that going. And sex and marriage are where those essential natural resources come from.

Additional Resources on Overcoming a Sexless Marriage from the Focus on the Family Marriage Team:

Sexless Marriage — Ask the Smalleys

Is a Sexless Marriage Grounds for Divorce?

Major Turn-offs to Marital Intimacy

When Your Husband Isn’t Interested in Sex

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