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Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006

BILINGUAL

Men retreat from 'hassle' of loving relationships


We're told that the nation's economy is in its best shape in a decade. While this is "roho (good news)," other things are happening in this country that are not so hot. Literally.

According to sources, many eligible Japanese men are in the throes of what's become known as "Renai Ken-o Sho (Dislike of Love Relationships)" and, consequently, the number of loving couples has plummeted to probably the lowest in the last decade. Single women are complaining that the dating scene has never been so barren, and those fortunate enough to have boyfriends live in fear of the extremely high turnover rate: "Kyo no kanojyo wa ashita no moto-kano. (Today's girlfriend is tomorrow's ex-girlfriend)."

Yes, there is less relationship-security now than ever before, and it's all the result of the Japanese male's seeming reluctance to get close, get committed and become that most coveted of conditions: "jyounetsuteki (passionate)."

Out-of-love epidemic

"Korewa mohaya byokidane (this has officially become an epidemic)" says editor Michiyo on this out-of-love trend. This is her story: After three whole years of nurturing warm, friendly relations with a "doryo (colleague)," Michiyo confessed her love one morning after an all-night, "futarikiri (just-the-two-of-us) drinking stint. Instead of taking her in his arms and declaring likewise (as she had envisioned) he looked acutely embarrassed, turned away and muttered: "Sou yuno, nashini shiyoyo (Let's not go there)."

Shocked, Michiyo's professional antenna went up: This colleague had to be part of a bigger disease eating away at the hearts and minds of the nation's men. It should be noted that Michiyo is smart, attractive and sexy -- she owns eight pairs of skin-tight, pin-heel boots that, when combined with her collection of skin-tight Earl jeans, makes her look like a "wasei Kyameron (the Japanese Cameron Diaz)," the kind of look that, it might be assumed, would attract suitors.

Let's not go there? What was the guy thinking?

And this would seem to be the collective Japanese female wail. They just don't know what men are thinking, or want anymore. Before, it had been so simple. Men wanted women and that was all there was to it. It was the guy's job to deduce the workings of the female mind.

Now, the tables have turned. Men are constantly shying away and looking embarrassed while women lay bare their hearts and fling them at their reluctant, shuffling feet. "I sense a nation-wide wave of 'don-biki (a great, pulling away)' on the part of men" analyzes Michiyo. "They actually act affronted when women confess. They act like little girls, they act like 'otome (virgins)!' "

It's true. The widespread "ren'ai ken-o" goes hand in hand with the widespread otome-ization of the Japanese male. Ten years ago the media gasped when young men were discovered to shave their legs and buy skin-care products. Today the focus is on young men who see sexual relationships as something "kimoi (disgusting)" and who seem to have little interest in venting their physical desires with actual partners. They live for "shigoto (jobs)" and "shumi (hobbies)." Above all, they value their privacy.

Heavy burden

Behind the "shoshika (low birth rate)" phenomenon (which has mostly been palmed off as the fault of the nation's women), is this to consider: Japanese men are less interested in love, let alone such an "omoni (heavy burden)" as marriage and "kosodate (child-rearing)."

Michiyo did an informal survey among the single men in her department, and reports that six out of eight replied that the reason they choose to avoid ren'ai altogether is because they cannot see any merit in being with women. "Onnanoko wa mendoudashi, renraku shinakya-naranaishi, purezento toka okane kakarushi . . . (Girls are a hassle, they expect me to call, I have to buy them gifts and that would cost money)" was one 34-year-old male's sum-up. He would rather deploy his funds and time in other ways, ways that would be infinitely more rewarding than in a "kocchini nanno tokuni naranai (There's no profit to be gained)" love relationship.

Girls of Nippon, we live in glacial times.



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