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July 18, 2013

No Sex and the City


Photo Credit: Takashi Homa

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While it might sound like one of those "only in Japan" tales that the West loves so much, the rise in pet ownership is a genuine phenomenon. Amid the tough economic and romantic climate, more people have been buying pets such as dogs, cats, and rabbits and pampering them like surrogate children or partners. The estimated number of pets across the nation is now more than 22 million, and the industry is worth around $12 billion a year. Indeed, Sasaki confesses she loves rabbits so much it’s hard for men to compete. "I met a man at a rabbit convention and afterward he friended me on Facebook," she says. "At first I didn’t know who he was. It was only when he posted a photo of his rabbit that I remembered him."

So is it really end-times for sexual relationships in Japan? Interestingly, a 28-year-old man at the same matchmaking event as Sasaki agrees with those who believe that the country’s anachronistic attitudes toward women are the root of the problem. "I find women who are independent and have their own careers much more sexually attractive," says Shinsuke Yasuda, an IT systems engineer. "I don’t want someone who is subservient." Many young Japanese men feel the same way, but "society has to catch up" to make equal relationships possible, Yasuda says. "At least some of us are trying," he adds, before disappearing into the darkness to collect more phone numbers. Maybe there’s hope yet.

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