October 23, 2013 at 9:34 am #41426
note: This is really about a “lost generation” that has replaced romance and social activity and cultivation of their jing with techno-virtual reality devices….Michael.
Sexless Japan by Mish Shedlock
Here are some interesting points regarding social attitudes and demographics from a Guardian article by Abigail Haworth: Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?
A survey this year by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45% of women aged 16-24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact”. More than a quarter of men felt the same way.
Population of 126 million has been shrinking for the past decade
Population projected to plunge additional one-third by 2060
Survey in 2011 found that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship
Fewer babies were born in 2012 than any year on record.
Of the estimated 13 million unmarried people in Japan who currently live with their parents, around three million are over the age of 35.
Married working women are sometimes demonised as oniyome, or “devil wives”.
Japan’s Institute of Population and Social Security reports an astonishing 90% of young women believe that staying single is “preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like”.
Lets dive into the article for some interesting comments and interviews.
Ai Aoyama is a sex and relationship counsellor who works out of her narrow three-story home on a Tokyo back street. Aoyama, 52, is trying to cure what Japan’s media calls sekkusu shinai shokogun, or “celibacy syndrome”. Japan’s under-40s appear to be losing interest in conventional relationships. Millions aren’t even dating, and increasing numbers can’t be bothered with sex.
Japan’s under-40s won’t go forth and multiply out of duty, as postwar generations did. The country is undergoing major social transition after 20 years of economic stagnation. It is also battling against the effects on its already nuclear-destruction-scarred psyche of 2011’s earthquake, tsunami and radioactive meltdown. There is no going back. “Both men and women say to me they don’t see the point of love. They don’t believe it can lead anywhere,” says Aoyama. “Relationships have become too hard.”
Japan’s punishing corporate world makes it almost impossible for women to combine a career and family, while children are unaffordable unless both parents work. Cohabiting or unmarried parenthood is still unusual, dogged by bureaucratic disapproval.
Aoyama says the sexes, especially in Japan’s giant cities, are “spiralling away from each other”. Lacking long-term shared goals, many are turning to what she terms “Pot Noodle love” easy or instant gratification, in the form of casual sex, short-term trysts and the usual technological suspects: online porn, virtual-reality “girlfriends”, anime cartoons. Or else they’re opting out altogether and replacing love and sex with other urban pastimes.
Some of Aoyama’s clients are among the small minority who have taken social withdrawal to a pathological extreme. They are recovering hikikomori (“shut-ins” or recluses) taking the first steps to rejoining the outside world, otaku (geeks), and long-term parasaito shingurus (parasite singles) who have reached their mid-30s without managing to move out of home. (Of the estimated 13 million unmarried people in Japan who currently live with their parents, around three million are over the age of 35.) “A few people can’t relate to the opposite sex physically or in any other way. They flinch if I touch them,” she says. “Most are men, but I’m starting to see more women.”
Aoyama cites one man in his early 30s, a virgin, who can’t get sexually aroused unless he watches female robots on a game similar to Power Rangers.
“Marriage is a woman’s grave,” goes an old Japanese saying that refers to wives being ignored in favour of mistresses. For Japanese women today, marriage is the grave of their hard-won careers.
I meet Eri Tomita, 32, over Saturday morning coffee in the smart Tokyo district of Ebisu. Tomita has a job she loves in the human resources department of a French-owned bank. A fluent French speaker with two university degrees, she avoids romantic attachments so she can focus on work. “A boyfriend proposed to me three years ago. I turned him down when I realised I cared more about my job. After that, I lost interest in dating. It became awkward when the question of the future came up.”
Prime minister Shinzo Abe recently trumpeted long-overdue plans to increase female economic participation by improving conditions and daycare, but Tomita says things would have to improve “dramatically” to compel her to become a working wife and mother. “I have a great life. I go out with my girl friends career women like me to French and Italian restaurants. I buy stylish clothes and go on nice holidays. I love my independence.”
Romantic commitment seems to represent burden and drudgery, from the exorbitant costs of buying property in Japan to the uncertain expectations of a spouse and in-laws. And the centuries-old belief that the purpose of marriage is to produce children endures. Japan’s Institute of Population and Social Security reports an astonishing 90% of young women believe that staying single is “preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like”.
The sense of crushing obligation affects men just as much. Satoru Kishino, 31, belongs to a large tribe of men under 40 who are engaging in a kind of passive rebellion against traditional Japanese masculinity.
“It’s too troublesome,” says Kishino, when I ask why he’s not interested in having a girlfriend. “I don’t earn a huge salary to go on dates and I don’t want the responsibility of a woman hoping it might lead to marriage.”
Japanese-American author Roland Kelts, who writes about Japan’s youth, says it’s inevitable that the future of Japanese relationships will be largely technology driven. “Japan has developed incredibly sophisticated virtual worlds and online communication systems. Its smart phone apps are the world’s most imaginative.” Kelts says the need to escape into private, virtual worlds in Japan stems from the fact that it’s an overcrowded nation with limited physical space. But he also believes the rest of the world is not far behind.
That’s a reasonably lengthy set of clips but there is much more in the article that merits a closer look.
Those wondering why prime minister Abe is having such a hard time stimulating inflation can now stop wondering.
Until Japanese attitudes towards child-bearing, jobs, and relationships change, Abe will continue to struggle.
Abe seeks to stimulate inflation, but that is likely to encourage more saving, not more spending.
With the bulk of Japanese pensions tied up in bonds yielding next to nothing, higher taxes and higher cost of goods and services will decrease demand from aging retirees.
In the US, student debt hinders family formation. Millions of young adults have moved back home because they do not have a job.
In Germany, free child-care is not enough to fix Germanys falling birth rate dilemma
Germany has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe and it continued to decline between 2001 and 2011 despite Angela Merkels government spending a lot of money on subsidies promoting and helping families.
Attitudes in General
Here are some reasons behind the low birthrates: Lack of Jobs, Student Debt, Aging Parents, High-Priced Housing, Earthquakes, Nuclear Waste.
Some of the reasons for lower family formation are universal, others like nuclear waste are country specific.
Inflating money increases asset prices (until the bubbles pop) but that does not help those fresh out of college with no assets. Pumping up home prices helps banks stuck with housing inventory, but it hurts those seeking to buy a first-time home.
Easy money policy is to the benefit of those with first access to money: the banks and the already wealthy. Easy money is to the detriment of everyone else.
As income inequality soars, attitudes sour. As robots displace workers, attitudes sour. As taxes go up to support inane union pensions, attitudes sour. As politicians fight, attitudes sour.
Everything boils down to attitudes. Unfortunately, central bankers and politicians are making matters worse. Few see that now, but wait until the bubbles pop.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.comOctober 23, 2013 at 10:49 am #41427
Unless you are one of the rare few people that is simultaneously wealthy enough to support both you and your spouse on one income AND the non-working spouse wants to take care of the child instead of having a career, you would have to be an idiot to want a child.
If both parents are working, who is going to take care of the child?
The kid would end up in day care.
Which is extremely expensive.
So now you have both parents working all the time just to pay for the day care for the child they never see. Moreover, the day care people end up being the real parents. So now you have a child you don’t even get to enjoy or spend time with, because you are far too busy working trying to have enough money to pay for the child and all of your living expenses.
This is why birth rates are falling everywhere.
Most people that take the time to think about it for even 5 minutes, realize it’s a loser’s move.
Only way it will change is if we do something about the wealth inequality and also figure out a way to restructure society so people don’t need to work all the time.October 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm #41429
Hey now, there a a lot of “idiots” out there…
I am fortunate enough to have a wife who wants to raise our kids and to be able to support my family with my income. I agree with your analysis though…October 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm #41431
>>>I am fortunate enough to have a wife who wants to raise our kids
>>>and to be able to support my family with my income.
But very few people actually have such a nice setup.
For the most part, it is no longer supported by society.
So you are a lucky one, my friend.
And yes, I do consider folks that need to have (or do have) two incomes,
but still have children to be stupid. If the mother can’t even raise her own children, so that the children need to be in day care, why have them? The day care people become the real parents, and the biological parents just become slaves to the workaholic society to pay for said day care. Not only do I think it stupid, but I think those parents are ultimately selfish, not truly thinking of the needs of their children. They just become a trophy, another checkbox in the society to-do list.
SOctober 23, 2013 at 8:53 pm #41433October 24, 2013 at 12:33 pm #41435
Your view is cynical to the extreme, and part of the global problem.
Day care part time is not the evil you make it out to be, you are projecting. My sister’s kids did just fine with it.
This is not an economic survival question – it’s a value question. People value money more than the experience of raising and loving their children. It’s the global epidemic. It’s a question of WHAT you want to spend money on – yourself or your children? I’m not saying it’s an easy choice for everyone. But that’s the choice.
-MOctober 24, 2013 at 5:53 pm #41437
Did you watch the “Wealth Inequality” video clip I put in the first post?
You are right. It is a choice. It’s a very easy, logical, and rational one.
Why would anyone be excited to work–living paycheck-to-paycheck–just to support children you don’t get to see because you are too busy working to provide for the household?
One income can’t make it today, in most of today’s households. Most couples are barely making it on two. Yes, people can choose to live in abject poverty, getting government assistance, to make ends meet and have kids. But for most, this is not an attractive option.
When people can barely meet their financial obligations without kids, why would any sane individual choose to greatly increase their financial hardship, and likely increase the amount of work they do, beyond current levels.
It’s the same issue as the idea of spending tons of time working in a job, just so that you have money to pay for the house that you never spend time living in, because you are too busy working to pay for it.
People don’t want to live their lives on a hamster wheel. Just filling up time with busy-ness until it is time to expire.
When people already feel overwhelmed, “more” does not sound like a good idea.
SOctober 25, 2013 at 8:29 am #41439
S – I happen to know and am friends/family with a lot of these “stupid” people. People make it work, whether it is their friends and/or family (the saying “it takes a village” is very true) that are very supportive and they don’t necessarily have to blow all of their money or work all the time just to support them. They enjoy their kids as much as possible, they are not just a “trophy” or an “obligation.” But I digress.
On the other hand, it is almost a stigma nowadays for a mother to want to stay at home and raise their kids. I hear about it all the time. I know when my sister has kids that she will go back to work as soon as she can. Women who have been dedicated to a career want to continue with that career if they can, not just to support their kids. I believe it is ideal for the mother to raise their kids for the first few years until they go to preschool/school, but to have someone else take care of them during that time is not the end of the world. I know I am lucky to have the best of both worlds.
-JOctober 25, 2013 at 10:12 am #41441
That’s fine. People “make it work” all the time.
If people choose to do that, then that’s their business.
But what I take issue with, is this idea because that somehow the rest of the population that doesn’t want to perform this juggling act, therefore has flawed thinking and is only concerned with themselves. I would argue that a lot of people choosing not to have children do so because they are thinking about the welfare of these possible children, and are not simply having them anyway . . . purely because of some judgment or pressure by society that says “it is your duty”. When people are having trouble even sustaining themselves, adding children to the mix is not an attractive or a sensible option.
As you say, even mothers that stay at home get pressured by society to get back into the workforce. I don’t agree with this either. This direction society is taking where there is this expectation that you should spend more and more of your time “multi-tasking” on several different things, rather than just doing a few things well, is the wrong direction I feel.
This is also the main contributing factor to the ever-increasing rate of divorce, in my view. When you have a situation where you are trying to maintain two careers, and trying to raise children as well, where is the time for the primary relationship between the two partners? I have a lot of friends who are married and because they have both have careers, have no interest in ever having children, because they actually want to have some time to spend with each other. Again, very sensible in my view.
This ever-increasing, year-by-year, higher intensity frenetic pace of trying to do too many different things all at once, is going to eventually reach a breaking point. This declining birth rate is only one symptom. That’s the one thing I feel we’ve lost as a society over the last 100 years, the ability to have enough free time to truly nurture the family unit. But with the high cost of living expenses in today’s consumer-driven technological society, that is moving more and more toward evaporation.October 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm #41443August 24, 2015 at 8:17 am #41445
I relate to this. I see many good people not having children, me included.
I was reading a report by NASA recently that says human society will fall apart within 50 years. Meanwhile here in the UK there is a baby boom, of the immigrant population and the ignorant population.
Schools are jam packed. The politicians are screwing with the exams and it’s not just about education. It’s more a factory. The Government implemented fees for university (used to be free). No kids come out of Uni with degrees in surfing or golf course maintenance, and £60,000 in debt.
They haven’t even begun their life and they are slaves. The average house price is £250,000 … so maybe you can buy something when you are 40. And start there.
Actually to get a good job is not easy. Corporations dominate every sector.
Those who have a good job, often work until 8pm and are too tired. Too tired to cook good food, too tired for sex. Eat the garbage from the supermarket.
Meanwhile the super rich drive around in Ferraris.
Basically society is a salami machine, and you decide if you want to get shredded. You take your kids to the place called “school” and watch them get destroyed.
Love … is not like that.
I think it would be good if you can to homeschool children, perhaps move to a different country. Germany still has some balance.
But … what is the future. Say you move to Thailand, and have a place and children and … so what ?
What future is there for children. Gosh everything is being destroyed.
I don’t know. Feels like we need a war council.
What does a good man do here ?
Many people are hiding in costa rica / ecuador … maybe that’s a good option.
Certainly I am not fooled by Western industrial society. I don’t see anything good coming from it, it is just snake oil, the whole thing.
Perhaps change will come, radical change.
I have a choice to go deeply into the path and this is my choice. It makes more sense to me than to try and live the American Dream (British dream) that is a lie and is being systematically destroyed.
Take one step towards god, and he takes 10 towards you. I am ready to put this to the test.
I am an engineer, I don’t believe in building a bridge that is already falling down.
Maybe people who live in the Bush in Australia, hippie-style, perhaps their kids are getting some good life. But if your kid comes out of the salami machine, what value is its life ? It’s just robotic.
Change is coming, be part of it.
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