An impressive 40% of Japanese men in their 20s reported having never gone on a date, according to a new government survey.
In a 350-page white paper on gender equality published this month by Japan’s Cabinet Office, authorities surveyed 20,000 people from various age groups on questions related to marriage and income.
Women in their 20s reported a high but significantly lower number, with 25% reporting they had never been on at least one date.
For women, the figure dropped with age, with 22% of those in their 30s reporting having never been on a date, and only 12% of women in their 40s.
There was less of a decrease for men, with 35% of those in their 30s reporting having never been on at least one date, and roughly 22% of men in their 40s.
While businesses have seemingly adapted to the singlehood phenomenon, offering solo dining spaces in restaurants and even solo bridal sessions in photo studios, the government appears far more alarmed by the dropping marriage rates, which are directly related to the country’s number of births.
Local municipalities have campaigned to encourage unions in hopes of raising fertility rates. In one ad for matchmaking tours and seminars for singles, for example, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government shared, “We are working on fostering a mind for marriage.”
Interestingly enough, 5% of both married men and women in their 20s reported having had zero dating partners, implying that they did not date their spouses prior to marrying. One explanation for their response is that they met their partner through a konkatsu, or spouse-searching service, skipping over the dating step altogether.
Cultural differences in conceptions of dating could account for some portion of the rates; however, it is clear that marriage is increasingly an afterthought to many Japanese citizens.
In the same report, one in four Japanese singles in their 30s — irrespective of gender — reported having no desire to get married, citing marriage as a hindrance to individuals’ freedom.
Japan’s birth rates continue to plummet, with the country hitting a record low in 2021 for the sixth year in a row with 811,604 births.