“Virginity is on the rise,” declares CBS News, and Japan in particular is in the middle of a “virginity surge.” Lest one thinks this phenomenon is limited to the Land of the Rising Sun Without Walks of Shame, CBS also warns that “America could be next!”

All around the world, young people are having less sex than previous generations. At the forefront of the so-called global “sex recession” is Japan, which has one of the lowest fertility rates on Earth, and it could serve as a cautionary tale for the U.S. and other industrialized countries. …

A review of Japan’s National Fertility Survey reveals virginity is on the rise; one out of every 10 Japanese men in their 30s is still a virgin. That puts Japan’s virginity rate well ahead of that of other industrialized nations.

“A large proportion of these individuals cannot find a partner in the market,” Peter Ueda, a public health researcher at Tokyo University, told CBS News. He’s sounding the alarm about Japan’s surging virginity rate, which he notes is, “actually the highest ever recorded in a high-income country.”

For Japan, already well into an unprecedented population decline, the sex drought is more bad news. If current trends hold, Japan’s population will collapse by more than half over the next century.

The drop in both sex and births is often blamed are long working hours, too much time spent online, and the Japanese fetish for digital companionship, which manifests itself in the popularity of robots and holographic “partners.”

Let’s hit the pedantic point first. Perhaps I’m just a little too literal, but how can virginity be surging or “on the rise”? Virginity is the universal origin state from which change occurs, not a status that one later chooses. That might apply to celibacy, which can be adopted before or after sexual activity, but not virginity. Virginity is never actually “on the rise” — it’s just that its decline has slowed.

Furthermore, CBS is conflating two different issues. It was not all that long ago that the societal norm was to postpone sexual activity for marriage, even if the norm was not universally observed at all times. We didn’t fret about too little premarital sex and too much virginity back in those days, and yet that norm produced significant fertility booms, most recently and famously after World War II. Oddly, the later expectation of early and constant sexual activity regardless of marital status, combined with the contraceptive culture that enables it, has produced fertility shortages.

It’s the fertility crisis that’s the issue, not the lack of sexual activity. So what’s causing the fertility crisis? CBS focuses on a lack of job prospects and economic growth in both Japan and other industrialized nations, but the quality of life in these countries is better than ever. We have more access to luxuries and information than any other generation that preceded us. We live in larger spaces than ever. Rather than delay gratification to produce families, we tell ourselves — as one Japanese man does in the above video — that he doesn’t earn enough money to support a wife and family. That’s a choice, not an economic imperative.

As my friend Peter Grandich often points out, the boom in storage spaces underscores a rabid consumerism that leaves us focused on ourselves, rather than on building families. We want things, not children. Couldn’t that be part of a fertility crisis?

There may well be other factors, too. We have teenagers running around the world convinced that the Earth is melting down and they’ll all be dead in 12 years. What are we doing in response to this mass paranoid hysteria? We’re handing out awards for best performance, that’s what. That’s not exactly an incentive to invest in the future, is it?

Update: As far as a fertility crisis being a threat to America, Dustin Siggins wrote in May 2018 that there’s a very handy way to solve it:

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported this week that just over 3.8 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2017. The number is a record low since 1987. It continues a decades-long trend of America’s graying.

National Public Radio’s (NPR) Bill Chappell covered the report on Thursday. So did NPR’s WAMU affiliate in Washington, D.C. Host Mary Louise Kelly and Pew Research Center Senior Researcher Gretchen Livingston discussed several important fertility factors — but they ignored the major culprits in the decline: widespread use of contraception and abortion which prevent births. …

Simply put: the CDC’s report has little to do with fertility. It’s about birth rates. American men and women conceive plenty of children. We just abort a lot of them. And women put their health and lives at risk to stop sexual intercourse from its natural conclusion.