Sexuality in Japan  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
history of sexuality, Japanese erotica

Sexuality in Japan has developed separately from mainland Asia, as Japan did not adopt the Confucian view of marriage. Monogamy in marriage was not prized in Japan, and married men often sought pleasure from their courtesans. Prostitution in Japan has a long history, and became especially popular during the Japanese economic miracle, as evening entertainments were tax-deductible. Homosexuality and bisexuality were common in former times, but are taboo in the modern era. Japanese pornography has a wide following worldwide and is translated and exported nearly everywhere due to its wide range of themes and media. Japan has a vibrant fetish scene particularly in the larger cities that has influenced many fetish communities worldwide. Decreased sex drive in the 21st century was blamed for the low Japanese birth rate and declining growth of the Japanese population.

Decreasing sexual activity

Sexual activity and interest has been declining in Japan for years, and is in part blamed for Japan's decreasing birth rate. Because Japan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world - and its population is on course to shrink dramatically by the middle of the century, every five years the government carries out a detailed survey of attitudes to sex and marriage. The studies and surveys have reported loss of sexual drive across several demographics, from adolescent men and women, to married couples. In 2010, the 14th Japanese National Fertility Survey was conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. Singles between the ages of 18-34 who are not involved in a romantic relationship and do not want one amounted to 28% for men and 23% for women. It was also found that 28% of men and 26% of women aged 35-39 had no sexual experience. However, the possibility of response bias should be taken into consideration with these figures.

In 2010, another survey published The Japanese Association for Sex Education Research Journal found that 40.8% (up from 34.6% in 2006) of marriages in Japan could be classified as "sexless", which the Japan Society of Sexual Sciences generally defines as “engaging in sex less than once a month, despite not suffering from any health-related conditions”. Among the top reasons married couples cite for not having sex, is that after children are in the picture (couples are even discouraged from having intercourse while pregnant), sex can decrease markedly or even become nonexistent for a habit-forming period of time. About 1 in 5 couples say they simply view sex as a nuisance, a small number cite the lack of private space, because elderly or the children often sleep on just the other side of paper-thin walls. Some are too stressed out from work, others have “more fun things to do”. There is also a tendency among Japanese married couples to feel an aversion to sex with their spouse because they've come to feel that they have more of a relative/sibling relationship, and accordingly cannot see their spouse as a sexual partner anymore. Additionally, 36.1% of males and 58.5% of female respondents aged 16 to 19 surveyed described themselves as “indifferent or averse” towards having sex. A near 18% and 12% increase respectively, since the survey was last conducted in 2008. It was also reported that 83.7% of men who turned 20 that year were not dating anyone, with 49.3% stating they had never had a girlfriend. 59% of female respondents of the same age group responded similarly, a 12% increase from the 2008 survey.

In a global context, a 2005 Sex Survey of 317,000 people in 41 countries conducted by Durex, the largest condom manufacturer in the world, found that the Japanese had the least sex in the world, at 45 times a year, with the second-to-last country of Singapore averaging 73 times a year, and the world average at 103 times a year. Additionally the survey reported that only 24% of Japanese respondents said they were happy with their sex lives, compared to the global average of 44%.

The reasons for this decline in sex interest are still widely discussed; There are many theories and different contributing factors. A large part of it may be contributed to the fact that in most respects, men and women live very separate lives socially, and there is little relaxed contact with the opposite sex outside of school ties or friends from the office, and in turn, less opportunity to freely mingle without commercial transaction through the sex-industry. This, combined with young men's growing reliance on pornography, can be thought to have a large impact on the real-world sex interest due to its “overstimulating” effect.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sexuality in Japan" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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