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Life Is so Bad in Japan That Millennials Are Choosing Virtual Relationships Over the Real Thing

More and more Japanese millennials are opting for virtual relationships over real ones. That’s right, instead of dating a human being, they’re dating their favorite film or anime character, even a meme or character in a video game. It’s a cultural trend that’s sparked the creation of a multi-million dollar “virtual romance industry” in Japan. And it has Japanese sociologist Masahiro Yamada rather frightened for his country’s future.

New figures show that more than 70% of unmarried Japanese men and 75% of women have never had any sexual experience by the time they reach 20, though that drops to almost 50% for each gender by the time they reach 25.

According to Professor Masahiro Yamada, a sociologist at Chuo University in Tokyo, who has coined the phrase “stranded singles” for the phenomenon, the rise in virginity rates is matched by a rise in the lack of interest in having any kind of “real” relationship.

Recent research by the Japanese government showed that about 30% of single women and 15% of single men aged between 20 and 29 admitted to having fallen in love with a meme or character in a game – higher than the 24% of those women and 11% of men who admitted to falling in love with a pop star or actor.

The situation Yamada lays out isn’t all that far off from the one most American sociologists have pinned on our own millennial generation. Lacking income stability, Japanese millennials remain safe in their parents’ nests, hesitant to take risks in both career and relationships. Quite frankly, it’s easier to stay in your childhood bedroom and create a virtual world through your computer where you can and always will remain in control of everything – including your romantic partner.