Opinion / Cai Hong

Legislators make hay as the rest of Japan shy away from sex

By Cai Hong (China Daily) Updated: 2017-08-07 07:25

One recent survey showed 42 percent of single men and 44 percent of single women between ages 18 to 34 were virgins, with some men calling women "scary". Another found nearly 25 percent of Japanese men and 14 percent women aged 50 were yet to marry-the highest figures since census began in 1920.

Surprisingly, even some married couples have lost the spark in the bedroom.

A Japanese family planning association's survey found almost half of the married couples had not had sex for more than a month and did not expect that to change in the near future-"sexless" marriage, as the association defines it. While 35.2 percent of married men said they were "too tired" to have sex, 22 percent of married women said they found sex "troublesome".

While sex may not be appealing to many Japanese, the pursuit of extramarital pleasure by some lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has contributed to the nosediving approval ratings of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his administration.

In September 2013, Toshinao Nakagawa, an LDP member of the lower house of parliament who is married and has three children, had a mock wedding ceremony with his mistress in Hawaii in the presence of a churchman. Apologizing to his voters for his misdeed, which he described as "lack of virtue", Nakagawa has left the LDP and stepped down as vice-minister of economy, trade and industry. But he continues to retain his upper house seat and has said he will contest it when his term expires in December 2018(if Abe does not call a snap election).

Eriko Imai, a member of the upper house and a single mother, according to media reports, has been having an affair with Ken Hashimoto, a member of the Municipal Assembly of Kobe city and a married man with two children. Both are LDP members.

The scandals have added to the LDP's woes. The burning hot summer seems to be scalding the embattled prime minister. To win back public support, he agreed to be grilled by opposition lawmakers at an ad hoc parliamentary hearing for suspected cronyism on July 24-25. The opposition claims Abe had intervened to help Kake Gakuen, an educational institution whose director Kotaro Kake is a long-time friend, get the approval for opening a veterinary school in a special economic zone.

Tomomi Inada, an Abe protégé who shares his conservative values, resigned as Japan's defense minister on July 28 over allegations that she might have covered up information related to Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's operations during a United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

Abe reshuffled his cabinet on Thursday, in a bid to save his political career. But to regain the trust of the Japanese people, he needs to focus on his economic initiatives so as to spur growth, which he promised while taking office in late 2012. But he has been preoccupied with several unpopular bills such as security-related legislation that for the first time allows Japan Self-Defense Forces to fight abroad.

The Japanese people are becoming increasingly skeptical about the effectiveness of Abe's policies. And Abe has not done enough to deliver on his promises of improving the economy and changing workplace culture.

When people in Japan don't have to work long hours, they will have more time to explore the spiritual world and address their libido. Japanese people's abstinence means fewer and fewer babies, which could be disastrous for the country. Japan's National Institute of Population and Social Security Research projects the country's population will plummet from 127 million now to 88 million by 2065, and further to 51 million by 2115 if the current trends continue.

The toxic combination of a low fertility rate and an aging population will add to the gloomy prospects of the country, which has the highest amount of public debt in the world.

The author is China Daily Tokyo bureau chief.

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