In Japan, there are more and more young adults who have never had sex. Researchers from the University of Tokyo have conducted a detailed analysis of the evolution of Japanese sexual experiences during the last thirty years.
In recent years, several media have relayed information about the "late" virginity of the Japanese. For example, in 2016, Japan's National Institute of Population and Social Security revealed that 42% of men and 44% of women between the ages of 18 and 35 had never had sexual intercourse. A societal challenge because the fertility rate is decreasing.
Researchers from the University of Tokyo have conducted an extensive analysis of different national surveys on fertility and sexuality to better understand this phenomenon. "Previous reports on virginity rates among Japanese young adults were a bit sensational, included only singles and did not distinguish between different age groups," says Dr. Peter Ueda, expert in epidemiology and in public health and author of the study.
Increased virginity rate in 30 years
By virginity, researchers hear the absence of heterosexual sexual intercourse by penetration. Thus, in 1992, 21.7% of women between 18 and 39 were virgins. In 2015, they were 24.6%. In men, the virginity rate went from 20% to 25.8%. If we break down the age groups into smaller groups, we observe that the virginity rate has increased considerably among people over thirty.
In fact, among women aged 30-34 in 1987, 6.2% of women said they were still virgins, compared with 8.8% of men. In 2015, 11.9% of women were still virgins, compared to 12.7% of men. Ditto for 35-39 years old. In 1992, 4% of women and 5.5% of men reported never having had sex. In 2015, the virginity rate rose from 8.9% for women to 9.5% for men.
Social class influences sexuality
To achieve these results, the researchers analyzed data collected by the Japan National Fertility Survey, conducted every five years by the Japan National Institute of Population and Social Security. They worked on seven surveys conducted between 1987 and 2015. Each participant was between 18 and 39 years old.
The researchers found that men who lived in a city with more than one million inhabitants and had full-time employment were more likely to have had sex before. In contrast, men with low incomes were 10 to 20 times more likely to be virgins. The trend is not the same, it seems, for women. They were more likely to have had sex when their income was lower. But that could be explained because married women can be housewives, and therefore have sex without having a salary.
Japan, champion of sexual inactivity?
More generally, Japanese adults have their first sexual intercourse later than in other countries. Studies in the United States and Australia have shown that 1-5% of 30-year-old adults are virgins. "Sexual inactivity or lack of experience, whether voluntary or not, should not be exoticized, ridiculed or necessarily considered a concern for everyone.Additional research is needed on the causes of sexual inactivity and how relationships evolve with online dating, changing expectations about romantic and sexual relationships, changes in values, lifestyles, and the changing world of work, "says Peter Ueda.