Covid-19: threat to the sexual and emotional life of the Japanese

“Sexually, those who are in a relationship give themselves to heart, but for the others, it’s a belt, I think. “Crusader in Shibuya, the young and crazy district of Tokyo, one of the two actors of the comic duo Honeorizon, which rages on YouTube, thus sees the current intimate life in a Japan where like elsewhere the Covid-19 comes mix it up. “It is clear that we are even less likely than before to meet people, since everyone is trying to avoid people he does not know”, continues the one who tries to attract the eyes grimé in Doraemon ( a manga character that kids love).


“Paradoxically, I have chatted more lately with people I usually never see, but online. We suddenly reconnect with friends who live far away, in this case for me friends from the other end of the country where I come from, ”adds his friend. Those who live near, on the other hand, we move away from it…

These two young men have thus almost summarized the questions of sociologist Masahiro Yamada of the university of Chuo, who wonders what will become of the intimate life of the Japanese in a world “with the corona” and after him.

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Known for having created the expressions “konkatsu” (wedding campaign for those who go headlong in search of a partner to marry) and “parasitic singles” (the Tanguy), Professor Yamada is not very optimistic about the emotional life of his young compatriots. “Intimacy in East Asian countries in general and in Japan in particular is not expressed by the body [pas de bises, pas d’accolades], even with the family. On the other hand, one does not hesitate to buy sex or intimacy, and god knows that there are places for that in Japan. And besides, “it can even do without physical space, it can be virtual”, continues the author of many books on the evolution of the family and the relationship of the couple in his country. However, it risks being shaken by the coronavirus, but in what sense, that is the whole problem. “The committee of experts which advised the government at the time of the state of emergency recommended to live differently by taking various precautions, but in their proposals there is not a word on the romantic life, the sexual relations, marital relations, in short we are not told whether or not to avoid sexual activity. “


So ? “With strangers, yes, of course. We must even refrain from answering them if they speak to us suddenly, but that is not new, in general before the corona it was already true, ”says Maya, a young 25 year old who talks with a girlfriend in front of Shibuya station. The friend in question agrees with this well-known attitude of Professor Yamada. We avoid chance encounters (potentially dangerous) and we seek through acquaintances or matrimonial services the ideal husband – not to waste his time with plans for a day -, the one who earns at least 4 million yen (35,000 euros per year), much more if possible, all in order to marry him.

“There is little cohabitation in Japan, most young people aspire to found a traditional home with a classic distribution of roles between the two,” insists the academic. Since it becomes more complicated (because the right parties are in reduced number) and that looking for the ideal spouse, more prosaically, “it’s boring”, summarizes Mr. Yamada, “we rely on sex merchant, virtual sex, imaginary intimacy with a fetish being [une starlette, un personnage immatériel] or an affectionate relationship with a pet. Men, some of whom have never had a girlfriend, buy private time more particularly in hostess bars, maid cafes, etc. ” It is not necessarily a question of sex, but of proximity at least. This trade is the heyday of various districts of Tokyo (Shinjuku or Ikebukuro for hostess and host clubs).

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Akihabara, formerly a large electronics market, is now the kingdom of “maid cafes” and other establishments populated by very young girls, sometimes high school girls, who alpacent the many lonely men in the streets before leading them to rooms on the upper floors surrounding buildings sometimes just for playing board games. A study conducted last year on nearly 6,000 Japanese people aged 20 to 39 by Professor Yamada shows that 16% of men use sexual services (less than 2% for women). Will these benefits attract more people because of the greater job insecurity of men (de facto therefore more difficult to marry) or, on the contrary, lose customers because considered by the authorities as the worst places of propagation virus? This is the question to which the academic says he is unable to answer for the moment. But it is certain that the Covid-19 will leave its mark. “I am also curious to see the number of births in a few months,” he says.

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