Some 10% of straight Japanese men are still virgins by their 40th birthday, research has found.
While virginity into one’s late adulthood – a phenomenon addressed in 2005 film ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’ – is fairly rare in countries such as the UK and the US (between 1-5%), it is a much more common reality in Japan.
Some 9.5% of the nation’s heterosexual male population report having no sexual experience – defined as penetrative intercourse – between the ages of 35 and 39, according to the study from University of Tokyo.
This is up since 1992, when 5.5% of Japanese men reported no sexual experience.
Why are so many Japanese men still virgins?
There is no single factor for why so many straight Japanese men remain virgins into their forties. However, scientists found economic status strongly correlated with virginity rates.
Of those polled, men with lower incomes were more than 20 times more likely to be virgins compared to those on higher incomes.
Interestingly, the trend is the opposite for women. Researchers said this most likely married females who were having sex and did not earn a living.
Japanese men were also more likely to have had sex if they lived in cities which had more than a million inhabitants.
“Although the discussion around cause and effect becomes very complex when considering who becomes sexually experienced and who remains a virgin, we show that heterosexual inexperience is at least partly a socioeconomic issue for men,” said the study’s lead author Cyrus Ghaznavi, of the University of Tokyo.
“Simply put, money talks.”
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However, it is also true adult virginity is a wider phenomenon in Japan as a whole, where a quarter of men and women aged 18 to 29 report never having had heterosexual sex.
Some 8.9% of women aged 35 to 39 also report never having had sex, according to the same study.
Japanese adults in their 30s are 10 times more likely to be virgins compared to their counterparts in the UK, US and Australia, among whom the virginity rate is between 1 to 5%.
Declining birth rates in Japan
The Japanese government have tried to intervene in recent years, through providing free education, more accessible nursery care and paternity leave initiatives for new fathers.
Some local governments have even introduced speed-dating services across the country.