The largest segment was also the oldest, with 3. Masahiro Yamada, a sociology professor at Chuo University, said the current trend of declining births is expected to continue because of the demographic fact that a small population of young people will lead to a decline in the number of marriages. They don't believe it can lead anywhere," says Aoyama. Can Japan survive without immigrants? The number of deaths climbed to a post-war high of 1,,
Both men and women could be seen going through a dusky pink noren divider into a modern Japanese interior surrounded by vertical wood lattice. The first day, however, brought in 60 customers. The number of marriages also fell to a post-war low of ,, down by 13, from the previous year. Aoyama, 52, is trying to cure what Japan's media calls sekkusu shinai shokogun, or "celibacy syndrome". Economic issues Japan has been struggling with low birth rates for decades, but unlike many other industrialized countries which have also seen native populations having fewer children, it has not been able to make the numbers up with immigrants. With a vast army of older people and an ever-dwindling younger generation, Japan may become a "pioneer people" where individuals who never marry exist in significant numbers, he said. These factors include the lack of a religious authority that ordains marriage and family, the country's precarious earthquake-prone ecology that engenders feelings of futility, and the high cost of living and raising children. Yet conservative attitudes in the home and workplace persist. Nor is growing preoccupation with digital technology. The phenomenon emerged a few years ago with the airing of a Japanese manga-turned-TV show. They're coming to me because they think that, by wanting something different, there's something wrong with them. The World Economic Forum consistently ranks Japan as one of the world's worst nations for gender equality at work. Another study found that a third of people under 30 had never dated at all. There was no precedent for opening their store in a department store, making it impossible to predict how many customers they would attract. The number of deaths climbed to a post-war high of 1,, They are rejecting the pursuit of both career and romantic success. And that's from a woman who knows a bit about whipping. In addition, the number of young women who openly talk about their sex life on social media has increased, spreading the idea that sex is no longer a taboo subject. Inside, she takes me upstairs to her "relaxation room" — a bedroom with no furniture except a double futon. They are recovering hikikomori "shut-ins" or recluses taking the first steps to rejoining the outside world, otaku geeks , and long-term parasaito shingurus parasite singles who have reached their mids without managing to move out of home. A fluent French speaker with two university degrees, she avoids romantic attachments so she can focus on work. Aoyama's first task with most of her clients is encouraging them "to stop apologising for their own physical existence". There is no going back. Although Japan is sexually permissive, the current fantasy ideal for women under 25 is impossibly cute and virginal. Their chances of remaining childless are even higher: Many of the shifts there are occurring in other advanced nations, too. Eric Rechsteiner Ai Aoyama is a sex and relationship counsellor who works out of her narrow three-storey home on a Tokyo back street.
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