Precarity and Intimacy in Japan Today

978-0-8223-5562-5_prQuestioning "why have Japanese young people stopped having sex?" a recent article in The Guardian studies the decline in not only marriage and childbirth in Japan today but also interest in human intimacy, including sex. Both government and researchers have long focused on Japan's declining birthrate and low marriage numbers, but apparently young people aren't even dating, and the sense of alarmism only contributes to their anxiety. Anne Allison's forthcoming book Precarious Japan addresses recent changes in Japanese society that have led to this sort of phenomenon. Allison says, " Increasingly Japanese are living alone (one-third of the population), dying lonely deaths (33,000/year), and failing to reproduce (the population is declining). Some say Japanese society is in danger of extinction, but out of this precariousness, new possibilities for social living are also emerging: outside family and marriage, with non-human companions, creating different kinds of community or friendship. Precarity, of one kind of society, may signal the start of something else." Indeed, in the article, author Roland Kelts suggests that " it's inevitable that the future of Japanese relationships will be largely technology driven, with robots and virtual worlds increasingly substituting for human contact. Look for Anne Allison's book next month for an expanded discussion of what ails Japan today.

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