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March 04, 2007

"Sexlessness" in Japan

One of Mark Steyn's arguments in America Alone is that western nations can't deal with the threat of radical Islam when their birthrates are below replacement level, approximately 2.1 live births per woman. The birthrate figures he gives for Europe are pretty shocking (1.38 live births per woman), and Japan is even lower (1.32).

But the Japanese are becoming painfully aware of their low birthrate. You'd think that the people who have perfected consumer electronics and automobiles could come close to figuring out the mysteries of sex. But you would be wrong.

A Japanese doctor, Dr. Kunio Kitamura, has been focusing on what he calls "sexlessness" among the Japanese, which he defines as "a lack of consensual intercourse or sexual activity (kissing, petting or lying naked in bed) for at least one month without a special reason for not doing so." Surveys, apparently, have shown that as many as 40 percent of Japanese couples were not having sex. Which is pervasive enough that the Japanese government has to make it a non-issue:

It seems like yesterday I was having a quiet chuckle after being told by a pen pusher at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, which is supposed to be tackling the low birthrate problem, that "'People of Japan, Have Sex' is not an appropriate government policy."
This is actually a much more serious problem than my smartalecky treatment of it would suggest. But Dr. Kitamura does himself no favor by publishing articles called "Twelve steps to stopping sexlessness," and "Resemblance of the genitals shows mysterious nature of humanity," which elicit smirking from idiots like me. (The latter article, by the way, may be better in the original Japanese, because, just in case you're a total dope, it has illustrations, about which I should give you a content warning.)

In the end, though, the whole subject is pretty depressing, because no society can survive this way.