New study says 34% of unmarried Japanese have never had a partner

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A recent survey by the Recruit Bridal Research Institute has revealed that, of the people questioned, 34% of unmarried Japanese men and women have never had a girlfriend/boyfriend.

The Recruit Bridal Research Institute is a research division for Japanese human resources company Recruit, and they are also in charge of “Zexy”, a monthly magazine that serves as a wedding planning periodical.

The Recruit Bridal Research Institute’s “Romance and Marriage” survey is held biannually, and the 2023 edition gathered up responses from 600 unmarried women and men each, with 200 of each gender being in their 20s, 30s, and 40s (1,200 total).

Only 29.7% of the total respondents had a boyfriend or girlfriend, while 34.1% not only lacked one, but also never had one ever. Recruit claims that these numbers are the highest they’ve ever been in the survey, which was said to have begun around 2011.

Here’s the statistics:

Men in 20s

Currently have a girlfriend: 26.7 percent (down 12.2 percent compared to 2021)
Have never had a girlfriend: 46 percent (up 11.8 percent)

Women in 20s

Currently have a boyfriend: 43.2 percent (up 0.2 percent)
Have never had a boyfriend: 29.8 percent (up 5.5 percent)

The survey also found a sizable increase in the number of men in their 30s saying they’ve never had a girlfriend, while the relationship status/history of women in their 30s remained almost unchanged.

Men in 30s

Currently have a girlfriend: 27.6 percent (up 0.6 percent)
Have never had a girlfriend: 41.2 percent (up 5.8 percent)

Women in 30s

Currently have a boyfriend: 31.1 percent (down 0.7 percent)
Have never had a boyfriend: 25.3 percent (up 2.3 percent)

Meanwhile, the situation is somewhat complex for respondents in their 40s, where both the number of men without a girlfriend and those who’ve never had one dropped, while the proportion of women who’ve never had a boyfriend grew.

Men in 40s

Currently have a girlfriend: 14.4 percent (down 4.4 percent)
Have never had a girlfriend: 22.9 percent (down 4.2 percent)

Women in 40s

Currently have a boyfriend: 27.7 percent (up 0.6 percent)
Have never had a boyfriend: 26.5 percent (up 6.6 percent)

This is perhaps not a catastrophic discovery considering Japan has been struggling with its birthrates for years.

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