Writer who coined the term 'herbivore men' to explain Japan's problem with sex speaks out on term's misuse

The changing concept of the 'female friend' in recent decades has warped government findings on male sexuality, Maki Fukasawa argues

Wednesday 07 December 2016 22:04
Japan has the world's oldest population and a shrinking birthrate
Japan has the world's oldest population and a shrinking birthrate

An author has criticised the media’s use of a phrase she coined to define Japan's “sex problem” - after the country's National Institute of Population and Social Security Research published a new report into the country's sinking birthrate.

The institute's latest research found that 69 per cent of men and 59 per cent of women in Japan do not have sexual partners. It also found that 42 per cent of both sexes remain virgins and 30 per cent said they have “no hope” for a relationship.

Maki Fukasawa, a columnist and sociologist, has subsequently objected to her term “herbivore men” being misued by the press in order to sensationalise the findings.

Japan has a worrying number of virgins

Ms Fukasawa's term was invented 10 years ago to describe those males who have no interest in getting married or having a girlfriend but do pursue sexual relationships.

More recently, the expression has been popularly used to refer to men with no interest in sex whatsover, which is not what Ms Fukasawa intended.

The author has argued that the concept of “female friend” has changed over time, which has contributed to the confusion. Thirty years ago, when the government's survey was conducted for the first time, men believed that all relationships with women were potentially sexual and this is no longer the case, The Japan Times reported.

Ms Fukasawa claimed this change in attitude also explains why there has been a sharp downturn in the reported statistics - as the “female friend” box is now being ignored.

“No one (in the media) called and asked for my opinion,” Ms Fukasawa said on the “Bunka Hoso” radio programme, lamenting haphazard and sensationalist reporting on the subject. “They think I’m wrong because I say they’re wrong.”

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