By Alice L. Pacher and Hirayama Maki

Abstract: The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has a significant impact on the well-being of individuals but little is known how the lockdown due to the pandemic influences sexual intimacy and relationships. The discourse on sexuality in contemporary Japan has been described as male-centered sexuality, developed sex industry, large gap in wages between men and women, poverty among single mothers and sexless relationships and marriages. Therefore, this research project aims to investigate the nature of sexuality among married and non-married Japanese people under this COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, in order to find out what sorts of change in sexual intimacy and relationships can be seen during the pandemic among Japanese people. In the presentation, after an overview of Japanese media discourse on sexuality, it shows the results based on the online survey conducted by Hirayama and Pacher, from May to June 2020.

It reveals the fact that the lockdown had some positive impacts regarding couple and sexual relationships which were not reported in the media. In addition, other findings are also pointed out such as gender gap in desire to be in a committed relationship and in maintaining work-life balance among married couples. A follow up survey is needed to understand whether the changes in intimate relationships will be long-term changes or whether we see these changes only during a pandemic. Nevertheless, our survey has already revealed hitherto unknown facts concerning gender issues and the sexuality of Japanese people.

Keywords: Covid-19 pandemic and sexuality, gender gap, sexuality in Japan, couple relationships, online survey

Alice Pacher is an assistant professor at School of Arts and Letters, Meiji University, teaching Sociology. Pacher`s research focuses on couple relationships (married and unmarried) in contemporary times with a particular emphasis on sexual behavior and sexual consciousness. – 

Maki Hirayama is an associate professor at School of Arts and Letters, Meiji University, teaching Sociology of Gender and Sexuality, and Family Studies. Her recent research focuses on modern and historical Japanese sexualities with global comparative perspectives. –