“The most important reason for Japan’s declining birthrate is less sex,” says Dr Kunio Kitamara, director of Japan’s Family Planning Research Centre. His annual surveys indicate that the nation’s libido has been lagging in the last decade. The birthrate has declined, but fewer contraceptives are being used and there are fewer abortions and lower rate of sexually transmitted diseases. “Why?” asks Dr Kitamara: “Less sex!”

His research shows that almost half of married couples have sex less than one a month, and “young people dislike sexual intercourse”. His latest data from 2010 showed that 32% of young men dislike sex because “they are afraid of failure and rejection by women.” Sixty percent of women in their mid- to late 20s are single, and 70% of unmarried women don’t have a boyfriend. In Japan marriage is still more or less a prerequisite for having children – only 2% of children are born outside wedlock.

One young man we spoke to had dressed his dog up in a white hoodie and jeans, shoes and sunglasses because, he said, he wanted his dog to look “cute, cool and tough”. His proud owner said he hoped his dog’s look might attract young women, but so far he hadn’t met anyone to share his life with. “I wish I could meet someone like that,” he said.