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Western journalist asks “Why do the Japanese despise sex?”

The results are predictable and messy. Along comes a journalist in the West who fancies tackleing the thorny old saw that is sexlessness in Japan, or a perceived problem of sexlessness, and blunders around making generalizations based on some Google searches.

This time it’s well-known writer Julie Burchill in the British right-leaning weekly magazine The Spectator, who provocatively asks “Why do the Japanese despise sex?”

Her rationale seems to be that it all comes down to hikikomori — acute social withdrawal syndrome — which affects, the article claims, some half a million male adults in Japan, who have become recluses addicted to online gaming and pornography.

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Apparently this minority is responsible for the entire nation’s lack of sexual activity and, the writer tries to suggest, the falling birthrate.

Because the “celibacy syndrome” — a preference for online porn to human relationships — can seemingly “help explain Japan’s catastrophic decline in population.”

[Hikikomori] are an important component in what the Japanese government calls “celibacy syndrome,” an imminent national catastrophe which has seen nearly half of their young women as well as more than a quarter of their young men “not interested in, or despising, sexual contact.” The Japanese Family Planning Association predicts a whopping one third plunge in the country’s population by 2060. Feminism — often blamed for the rise of the kidult — is hardly a big thing in Japan; but the nuclear bomb certainly was.

Seriously, Ms. Burchill, a pun about Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Putting that aside, what’s the solution? Yank all those pesky hikikomori out of their lairs, match them up with lady friend, and wait for the babies to start coming?

Despite the very clickbaity title, however, the majority of the article is not even about Japan, but rather “commitmentphobes,” “adultescents,” or “kidults” (whatever these buzzwords really mean).

There are startling statistics out there and there’s certainly a problem to be tackled, but we hope that journalists try a little harder when reaching for causes.

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