Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Japan here i Come!

Like many Japanese women, Junko waited until her early 30s to get married. When she and her fiance decided to tie the knot, she set her sights on starting a family.

Fifteen years later, Junko and her husband are childless. It is not that they cannot have children; it is just that they have never had sex.

The sexless marriage is one of several reasons why experts fear Japan is on the verge of a demographic disaster. In 2003 Japan's birthrate hit a record low of 1.29 - the average number of times a woman gives birth during her lifetime - one of the lowest rates in the world, according to the cabinet office. The population will peak next year at about 128 million, then decline to just over 100 million by 2050.

The 200 women a year who seek help at a clinic in the Tokyo suburbs have not had sex with their husbands in up to 20 years, and some never, according to Kim Myong-gan, who runs the clinic.

"The women who come to see me love their husbands and aren't looking for a divorce," he said. "The problem is that their husbands lose interest in sex or don't want sex from the start.
"Many men think of their wives as substitute mothers, not as women with emotional and sexual needs."

Mr Kim's short-term solution is unconventional. After an initial counselling session, he produces photographs of 45 men, mostly professionals in their 40s, with whom the women are invited to go on dates and then arrange regular assignations in hotel rooms.

Mr Kim dismissed accusations that his service was little more than a male prostitution ring. "The men volunteer and pay half the hotel and restaurant bills, so legally there is absolutely nothing wrong with it," he said.

He had rescued hundreds of women from despair, he said, but his "sex volunteers" would do nothing to cure the malaise that afflicts the institution of marriage in Japan.

"Men don't even think it is a problem if they don't have sex with their wives," Mr Kim said. "They have pornography and the sex industry to take care of their needs, but their wives have nowhere to go. They just suffer in silence."

The number of married couples is in rapid decline. In 2000, almost 70 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women between 25 and 29 were unmarried. That bodes ill for the birthrate, as Japanese society frowns upon having children outside marriage.

A survey of 600 women found 26 per cent had not had sex with their husbands in the past year.

"We are sort of room-mates rather than a married couple," one man, who had not had sex with his wife for two years, told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

The Government has introduced several measures to lift the birthrate. Fathers will be encouraged to take more than the 47 per cent of annual paid leave they currently use, and their employers will be told to provide more opportunities for them to stay at home with their children.

Local authorities, meanwhile, are devising novel ways to increase fertility.

In the town of Yamatsuri, women will receive 1 million yen ($A12,000) if they have a third child, and in Ishikawa prefecture families with three children will get discounts at shops and restaurants.

The absence of children in so many homes is having an impact. Fun parks are closing and there are signs that the "exam hell" teenagers go through to secure places at top schools and universities is less of an ordeal because the competition is less fierce.

The divorce rate has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. More women blame their sexually inactive husbands for break-ups.


Blogger if_i_had_a_hammer said...

so you're telling me there's an entire island nation of japanese women my age and older looking for noncommital sex?

my life finally has a calling.

5:08 PM  
Blogger if_i_had_a_hammer said...

so you're telling me there's an entire island nation of japanese women my age and older looking for noncommital sex?

my life finally has a calling.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

And people wanted proof that marriage is a means of abstinence...
I really don't know what to say about this...

9:12 PM  
Blogger English Professor said...

I'm with Steve--I'm so stunned I hardly know what to say. But it sounds as if you've made Hammer's day. Now, if I can just keep my husband from finding out about this . . .

12:06 AM  
Blogger if_i_had_a_hammer said...

sorry about the two comments...blooogger messed up fierce last night.

but yeah, you seriously made my day.

11:21 AM  
Blogger No_Newz said...

I feel happy for if_i_had_a_hammer, so when are you moving? ;)
Lois Lane

12:12 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

J ~ Start packing!

Steve ~ Not like you, lost for words!

Amy ~ LOL, i doubt you'll have to worry :)

J ~ Here i was thinking it's because you were so delerious!!
No apology necessary :)

Lois ~ LMAO are you going with him?

12:22 PM  
Blogger Lady in R3d said...

Thank you for visiting my blog.
I am speechless. It's sad, too.
The (other) people who comment here are hilarious.
Lady inR3D ~~8^)

5:37 PM  
Blogger Lady in R3d said...

uh, maybe your title here should be "Japan, there I DON'T come" ;)
Lady in R3D ~~8^)

5:39 PM  
Blogger if_i_had_a_hammer said...

michelle, i was that delirious, actually...hehe.

lois, thank you for your well wishes. i'm moving as soon as i can muster enough money for the trip and other expenses. donations welcome so i may realize my dream.

paypal accepted.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Lady in Red ~ SSshhh...you'll encourage them..LOL
Actually, they are all worth a read, go pay them a vist!

J ~ i am so freaked, i was thinking earlier on about setting up a paypal acc on my blog and getting others to donate to send you there by your 30th bday!

8:56 PM  
Blogger if_i_had_a_hammer said...

nice! thanks michelle. you're a pal.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

No problem J, anything to put a smile on yer dial!

3:39 PM  

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