July 20, 2012

Aging Japan and the Herbivore Male

Japan has been at the forefront of technological advancement and wacky creativity for decades. Their feats are made doubly impressive by the fact that they transformed themselves from a war-torn nation into what is now the third largest economy in the world. What all their modern flair hides, however, is the pervasive aging crisis that's slated to lower Japan's population by 38 million. They're aging faster than any country in history, and it's reported that by the year 2050, four out of ten Japanese people will be 65 or over.

Ridiculous, isn't it? That's 30% of the entire population! For as long as I've been a fan of everything from Japan, I've been under the impression that everything was just fine and dandy over there. Apparently not, considering how they are still in a recession; this population issue will only serve to worsen their situation. There are numerous reasons for the aging crisis, with one being how Japanese people live forever. Japanese people are some of the healthiest people on Earth, and considering the kind of care elderly people receive, a lot of them end up being 80 and still active. They just hang around forever, and refuse to die.

The elderly are projected to outnumber the young.

Another, more pressing reason for Japan's population crisis is the unusually low birthrate. Women just aren't having enough kids. The reasons for why are unclear, but there are a few solid theories. First of all, it seems that in general, lower class families tend to have more children. This phenomenon is clearly seen in the poorer areas of developed nations, and in countries with a high level of poverty. We don't see this too often in Japan, however, considering how highly educated their population is.

This isn't to say Japan doesn't have poor people; of course they do. But in general, Japan is a highly developed nation with an incredibly high literacy and education rate. Because of this enormous percentage of healthy, educated workers, there are hardly any families that try to get larger than four members. Cramped living spaces, easy access to birth-control, and a desire to raise a limited number of highly educated children contribute to this trend. So, it all makes sense now, right?

Well, here is where it gets interesting...

There has been talk about "herbivore men" in Japan. A herbivore male is basically a man who shys away from competition, choosing instead to lead a safe, comfortable life filled with hobbies and devoid of social interaction. To put it simply, herbivore men are the "nerds" of society. Now, I find this slightly humorous but mostly disturbing. According to Lifenet, a Japanese insurance company, a poll of 1000 men in their 20's and 30's revealed that 75% of men identify themselves as herbivore men. Really? 75 percent? And herein lies the problem. There is genuine concern that this rise in antisocial men is contributing to Japan's birthrate crisis.

It may sound silly, but this has been a very real discussion for some time. These "herbivore men" are seen as contributing very little to society because of their refusal to participate in "the game". They recede into their own noncompetitive worlds with justifications involving a "lack of interest", but I believe this to be a very powerful example of denial. It seems that they are simply so far beyond trying to live up to society's expectations that they just give up. What results is the woman's struggle to find an attractive mate. Attractiveness may be subjective, but one undeniable reality is that women biologically seek men who demonstrate assertiveness and power. It would seem that they're failing to do so because of this startling lack of meat-eaters.

Sal 9000, the man who married his Love Plus character

Again, it may sound far-fetched and insignificant, but there are actually a handful of other countries (South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan) that also exhibit this exact phenomenon, and it's just alarming to me because I've been oblivious to all of the troubles that have come from Japan's widespread otaku culture. As much as I am of a fan of all things virtual and Japanese, I can't say that I agree with how "herbivore males" are leading their lives. A subject that should normally be none of our concern is actually contributing to a national crisis, so I believe that it's probably in everybody's best interest to note the possible harm that this new escapist culture is doing. It may just save a country.


  1. Why are males the reason?

    Polls showed that japanese women most important thing they look for in a man is his income. I forgot the exact numbers but most of them want their husband to earn at least double the average income.

    In a time when women under 30 in Japan earn more than men, where do they want to find those men?

    Those men don't drop out because they have no desire for sex, they found out it is meaningless for them to play the game. Being together with those demanding self-entitled women is not worth to live for work and sleep alone.

    1. Men aren't exactly the "reason", but they ARE part of the problem. Women are also part of the problem as you have mentioned, but I didn't really think about including them in order to concentrate solely on herbivore men.

      I really don't agree with this whole "its meaningless so I won't play the game" mentality. It sounds like an excuse to me, mainly because women aren't ALL like that. That's basically like if you avoided airplanes because some of them crash. You're just trying to fool yourself into thinking you're making a logical decision, when its really a decision made out of fear. If you don't want a woman who only values money, why don't you try one that isn't like that?

  2. Maybe they'd be "cometitive real men" if there'd be some kind of reward for doing so. To me it seems that everyone expects men to give them a free ride in life without even daring to expect anything in return.
    "that's what REAL men do", right? In that case I too rather choose to be virgin sissy.

  3. This barely skims the surface when it comes to reasons for Japan's population problem. I think there are so many reasons. Starting with the notion that Japanese people are inherently shy. It's very rare for them to talk with members of the opposite sex right through to leaving college and beyond, let alone have a partner. I've seen drop dead gorgeous Japanese women in their late 20s who have never had a boyfriend. Also, in Japan, there is incredible pressure to perform well at school and get a good job. Then they also have to do their best at their job. It's to the point where having a relationship is just a "distraction". Then there's the income. Sad fact is, most women are attracted by money. So it takes a lot of men a lot of time to be worthy in a woman's eyes. Also, Japanese dating is incredibly slow...! Believe me, I've been there! Several times! Not only are they shy, but they also want to delay contact as much as possible for the reason that the longer they stay at a distance the longer it is until they find any dealbreaking flaws that would end the relationship. So when Japanese people finally do get together, they are pretty old already, and so used to a solo loveless life that relationships barely function. The typical Japanese couple has the woman working at home to look after the children and the man working to provide until late at night and then often they sleep in separate rooms! It's just ridiculous on so many levels. But I guess the country with the hottest women in the world had to have some flaws. If you are ever lucky enough to get a Japanese girl, don't you dare let her go! It will be at least 20 years befor eyou get another!

    1. Yes, I prefer to keep my articles concise. I believe I covered the important details, however. Thanks for the extra info though, I would have likely added those details as well if I was going for a more in-depth essay.

    2. Really disappointed about the shaming language. Really. The circumstances being unfair is fine but there is a limit to everything. You expect men to be supermen, well here's a dose of reality: WE AREN'T. If you're a girl, enjoy looking for Mr superman for your entire life. If you're a guy, enjoy being a disposable ATM with a dildo. Yes... that is how women see men as. And more and more guys (even those in the west) realize it. This is why men are downsizing their lifestyle and leaving women (except maybe family relatives and mom) out of the equation.

      "it's a matter of survival", so you are saying we should still think we are like wild tribe of cave people in the jungle? This is the modern age, survival is for primitive ancient tribes who are at the mercy of every one of nature's whim. We have become technologically advanced such that only the mega world ending catastrophes pose any real threat to the species.

    3. ^ This is the problem most of you are having. You're thinking of everything in the extremes. Not all women are blood-thirsty beasts, and not all men have to be supermen. That's ridiculous and I never asked that of anyone.

      I'm talking about a select group of people who identify themselves as "herbivore men", who choose not to engage in even the SLIGHTEST social activity and competition. That's the key here. No man is expected to be a superman, but these people don't even take the FIRST step. THAT'S when it becomes a problem.

      I believe I've pointed out that I say "matter of survival" because it's ACTUALLY a problem in Japan. The world is overpopulated, but Japan specifically is having an issue. The "herbivore men" have something to do with it, and that's what I'm addressing in the article.

      I don't feel like I'm getting any real responses here. Most of the counter-arguments seem to be coming from people who relate to the herbivore men; there is a lot of defensiveness in your tones. I'm very sorry, but I would like valid arguments, not excuses.

    4. Why won't my comment show up?

  4. So now it's working! I'll try again...

    "but these people don't even take the FIRST step. THAT'S when it becomes a problem. "

    Do they really have to take the first step? What happened to this whole equality thing people speak so proudly of? I guess the only parts of equality that's fine are the parts that benefits women but not the men. Maybe staying in the kitchen barefoot would be more your thing? You can't eat cake and keep it too!

    1. Lol I wasn't really talking about the literal "first steps" in dating; I actually totally agree with all of your points (very strongly). I meant first steps towards being a productive member of society. I'd rather not get further into this, but just understand that I don't disagree with any of what you said, the problem is that they don't really have anything to do with my article. Discussing social conventions and dating isn't really what's important here.

  5. I don't really see it all that different from the 60s in america when the people became disillusioned with the war and government and became hippies although obviously in this situation there are a lot less drugs involved. In the end I think it is a phase that will pass and hopefully japanese society will be all the better for it maybe it will help bring their society out of their shell and make them a little bit less uptight.