No Sex Please, We're Japanese

2013, Society  -  60 min Leave a Comment
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Located in northern Japan, Yubari used to be a bustling coal-mining city with over 100,000 residents. Today, its schools are shuttered, its amusement park abandoned, and its population reduced by 90 percent. Surprisingly, this troubling transformation is the result of modern Japanese views on sex and procreation. This is not an isolated occurrence; in fact, it's emblematic of what's taking place throughout the remainder of the country. The documentary investigates the root causes behind Japan's historically low birth rates, and how this distressing trend places the country's future in peril.

During the course of their investigation, the filmmakers make a stop in Tokyo, and discover that even Japan's most populous epicenter hasn't been immune to the crisis. Although the city welcomes close to a quarter of a million new births each year, that figure has undergone a steady decline as the average age of new mothers continues to rise.

The film does an exceptional job of detailing the ramifications of this multi-faceted dilemma. Diminished birth rates spell disaster for the longevity of any country. Workforce and economies dwindle, industries crumble, and entire populations eventually die off. This may sound like a far-fetched post-apocalyptic scenario, but it's an entirely probable fate for Japan.

This potential large-scale catastrophe has its origins in the most intimate of circumstances. A new generation of Japanese men no longer possess the level of ambition to date, marry and reproduce as they once did. Either they're too committed to maintaining a tireless work ethic, or they prefer the risk-adverse comforts of dating virtual girlfriends from role playing video games. Women, meanwhile, are making amazing strides in the work field. They are fearful of lacking a balance between the responsibilities of motherhood and the growing demands of their careers. Even those who wish for families of their own have difficulties finding a suitor with similar interests.

No Sex Please, We're Japanese could have been a fluff piece containing a titillating series of observations on modern sexual attitudes and cultures. To its credit, however, it's a thoughtful sociological study that carries far more profound implications for all of us.

Directed by: John Holdsworth

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