File this one under ‘No one understands Japan’

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The latest looming national catastrophe in Japan: celibacy syndrome. It’s long been understood that Japan is headed for a demographic disaster due to its low birth rate but the trend is getting worse, according to this article in the Guardian.

A survey earlier this year by the Japan Family Planning Association found that 45% of women aged 16-24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact”. More than a quarter of men felt the same way… A survey in 2011 found that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship, a rise of almost 10% from five years earlier

Since it’s Japan, naturally there is some weird stuff but what might be relevant is the increasing frustration of young women with the lack of a balanced workplace.

Tomita says a woman’s chances of promotion in Japan stop dead as soon as she marries. “The bosses assume you will get pregnant.” Once a woman does have a child, she adds, the long, inflexible hours become unmanageable. “You have to resign. You end up being a housewife with no independent income. It’s not an option for women like me.”

Around 70% of Japanese women leave their jobs after their first child. The World Economic Forum consistently ranks Japan as one of the world’s worst nations for gender equality at work.

Markets are awaiting the ‘third arrow’ of Abenomics — labor reform. But if Abe wans to take some bold steps and spring the economy to life, he could go to war with the workplace culture. It’s not something that will change overnight but it’s long overdue.

Author: Adam Button

Adam Button is the managing editor of ForexLiveâ„¢. He was previously the chief currency strategist at XForex and has also worked with Intermarket Strategy. Adam believes there's an edge in knowing every tidbit of news. He was formerly the head of the markets team at the Canadian Economic Press and is a graduate of Ryerson University. Adam lives in Montreal, follow him on Twitter: @FX_Button.



celibacy syndrome|demographic disaster|Japan

Adam Button


  1. Came here expecting something about tentacles. Was not disappointed.

  2. It’s liking singing ‘take me out to the ball game’ at a baseball game — guaranteed ;)

  3. The most important words are : ” the long, inflexible hours become unmanageable”. Corporations world wide are destroying their workers quality of life – this is the real problem.

  4. Let’s get down to Japan Adam ..

  5. Great post. I’ve read a few articles on this topic, most recently at and a lot of different theories are discussed but not the one you point out here, how Japanese women are likely to be forced to resign after getting pregnant. Very interesting.

  6. It’s uncomfortable to talk about their birth rates but since it is the number one cause of deflation, as a trader, we have to watch for anything new in the Japanese bedroom. Freaky.


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