A Crazy Number of Japanese People Under 50 Never Dated

A third of younger adults are opting out of the dating pool
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2024 4:30 PM CST
A Crazy Number of Japanese People Under 50 Never Dated
   (Getty / west)

Romantic love has lost its appeal to a growing number of younger adults in Japan, where a record number of people under 50 have shrugged off dating. A recent survey, according to the Japan Times, found that a third of Japanese people in their 20s through 40s have never dated, while a quarter of respondents said they plan to never marry, either. Recruit Holdings Co. began conducting the survey in 2017, and the latest results are the lowest in favor of dating and marriage since then. And while 46% of the 1,200 singles who participated said they'd like to marry at some point, that number keeps shrinking—down from 2017 (55.4%) and 2021 (52.6%).

Aging parents are taking matters into their own hands by going on speed dates for their adult children. Per CNN, a new type of matchmaking service pairs up parents to spare their millennial and Gen X kids the awkwardness of dating. "The idea that it is okay for parents to help their children get married in this way has become more widespread," said Noriko Miyagoshi, director at one such speed-dating service, the Association of Parents of Marriage Proposal Information. Many parents that use their services said fear of never having grandkids caused them to act, and that there was less stigma of stepping in on their kids' love lives today. The agency boasts a 10% success rate, a number that may be even higher since not everyone reports back.

Reasons why people are less inclined to look for love (or leave it to their parents) are varied. The men surveyed (42.5%) cited financial stress as the top reason not to get married, while the women (40.5%) feared losing their independence. "Although Japan is legally equal between men and women, in reality, there is a deep-seated belief among men and women that women should still bear children and raise them, while men should work outside the home," said Miyagoshi. And then there's just a general distaste for wading in the dating pool—a significant number of respondents in their 20s (19.4% of women and 23.7% of men) considered romantic relationships a waste of time and money.

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Meanwhile, Japan's population is taking a hit, with recent government data showing it fell 800,523 to 125.4 million. If it doesn't pick up, experts fear future consequences to the economy, funding social security, and what James Raymo, an East Asian Studies scholar at Princeton University, calls "a loss of social capital in local communities." The government passed a new initiative to incentivize couples to have children. Parents of toddlers and babies can receive monthly stipends to alleviate some of the financial burden family life drives up, but in many cases, matching-making must come first. "It's not really an issue of married couples having fewer children. It's about whether people are getting married in the first place," Raymo said. (More stories out of Japan).

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