Celibacy syndrome (Japanese: セックスしない症候群 ,sekkusu shinai shōkōgun) is a syndrome not recognized by any medical or psychological body. Rather, it is a media theory claiming that a growing number of Japanese adults have lost interest in sexual activity and have also lost interest in romantic love, dating, courting, and marriage. The theory has been reported by unknown members of "Japan's media" according to journalist Abigail Haworth of the Guardian. Following the report, the theory gained wide spread attention in English media outlets in 2013, and was subsequently refuted by several journalists and bloggers.
Reports and causes
In addition to celibacy, the theory cites declining numbers of marriages and declining birthrates in Japan. According to surveys conducted by the Japan Association for Sex Education, between 2011 and 2013, the number of female college students reporting to be virgins increased. Additionally, surveys conducted by the Japanese Family Planning Association (JFPA) indicated a high number of Japanese women who reported that they "were not interested in or despised sexual contact". Meanwhile, surveys conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in Japan in 2008 and 2013, revealed that the number of Japanese men and women reporting to not be in any kind of romantic relationship grew by 10%.
The theory attributes two possible causes for these reports: the past two decades of economic stagnation as well as high gender inequality in Japan.
One critic accused the Guardian and other media outlets of using "cherry-picked" data in order to make a sensational claim that appeals to Western notions of a "weird Japan". Another criticism points to contrary statistics that indicate that Japanese youth are having sex more frequently than ever. Additionally, one of the surveys on which the theory is based has been criticized as having a statistically invalid sample size. In that survey, only 60 respondents (aged 16 to 19) claimed an aversion to sex, and merely 126 respondents were used to represent the Japanese population (aged 16 to 19), which was nearly 6 million in 2014. Another criticism points out that, while the theory conflates sexlessness with low birthrate, these have been demonstrated by others to be uncorrelated.
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- "Celibacy syndrome hits Japan with more young people avoiding sex". News.com.au. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
- "Top 5 Mistakes Journalists Make about Sexless Japan". 28 October 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
- "No, Japanese People Haven’t Given Up on Sex". Slate.com. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
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- ""Yuko and Hiro" Do Not Despise Sex". 13 October 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
- "Don’t worry. The Japanese are having plenty of sex". 23 October 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
- "Population Estimates by Age (5-Year Age Group) and Sex". 1 July 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2014.