April 26, 2006


Japan pins hopes on 'speed dates' (Duncan Bartlett, 4/26/06, BBC World)

It's not everybody's idea of romance: meeting a rapid succession of people from the opposite sex, with bare minutes to make a connection before a bell signals it's time to move on.

But speed dating parties, as such events are known, are proving increasingly common in many countries.

In Japan, though, some are paid for by the government.

The hope is that by encouraging people to date, marry and start a family, the current demographic trend leading towards a shrinking population can be arrested.

It might not seem the most obvious scheme to tackle a falling birth rate, but it has proved extremely popular, and speed dating events happen across Japan every night of the week.

They seem to radically underestimate how much they need to change their culture.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 26, 2006 12:36 PM

Their culture's already been massively changed a couple of times in the last 150 years. The second time was a pretty radical and sharp break from their past imposed from the outside, and perhaps in retrospect we made mistakes that will ultimately prove fatal, but it's tough to say what other choices those at the time could have made.

Posted by: b at April 26, 2006 1:19 PM

How long before they start rounding up young women and sending them to 'conception' camps?

It may just happen.

Posted by: ratbert at April 26, 2006 1:19 PM


No, we just changed their system of governance, It's the culture that needs Reform.

Posted by: oj at April 26, 2006 1:29 PM

b, Mistakes?

Oh, that's right some of us think that effectuating the reformation of Shintoism and of German paganism had been mistakes.

The pathologies in Japan are what happens when a culture is taken down.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 26, 2006 1:37 PM

Germany wasn't Reformed either--we just switched its paganisms.

Posted by: oj at April 26, 2006 1:42 PM

oj: No, their culture was changed pretty massively. And you don't have to be as crazy as Mishima to think so...

Lou: C'mon, you don't think any mistakes were possibly made? It seems awfully noteworthy that Japan is in the same demographic meltdown as Western Europe, don't ya think?

Look, as I said "it's tough to say what other choices those at the time could have made." Maybe all we can do is shake our hands, say "We tried", and let them die if that's what they want. But given the possible future course of the GWOT, it's incumbent on us to figure out some sort of optimum approach.

Posted by: b at April 26, 2006 1:59 PM

There was an episode on CSI, set in Las Vegas, about a dating club similar to speed dating. I thought it was fanciful and never dreamed it was actually happening.

Posted by: erp at April 26, 2006 2:11 PM


No, it was hardly changed at all, which is why it's failed.

Posted by: oj at April 26, 2006 2:48 PM


The movie "Hitch" last year depicted it as well. I figured it was some creative concept the scriptwriter dreamt up, not an actual thing. I've not seen or heard of anything like this before (at least among anybody I'm acquainted with) but admittedly I live in the conservative Midwest.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 26, 2006 3:21 PM

The only way they will increase their birth rate is to change their culture to appreciate family more and individualism less.

Posted by: sharon at April 26, 2006 4:40 PM

I thought the Japanese were Borg-like in their one-mindedness and totally lacked individuality.

Posted by: erp at April 26, 2006 5:28 PM

Individuality and individualism are quite different.

Posted by: oj at April 26, 2006 5:34 PM

This is actually common in the States too as simply a different type of singles groups. I think it has more in common that more people do not meet their future meets in high school and college, yet the opportunities to mingle outside the work force is substantially reduced.

In those enclosed school settings, it's easy to meet a lot of people and determine possible dates, but working professionals don't have that option.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at April 26, 2006 6:50 PM

One of the definition for individualism from dictionary,com > The quality of being an individual; individuality.

Posted by: erp at April 26, 2006 7:27 PM

Individualism : "1) : a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount; also : conduct guided by such a doctrine"

individuality "1 a : total character peculiar to and distinguishing an individual from others"

Secularist Europeans each believe themselves to be all important, but they're pretty indistinguishable.

Posted by: oj at April 26, 2006 7:56 PM

Neither definition describes the Japanese.

Posted by: erp at April 26, 2006 8:02 PM


Posted by: oj at April 26, 2006 8:13 PM

I guess I was thinking more in the realm of materialism, etc. That is, they are more concerned with acquiring stuff and doing what pleases them as opposed to sacrificing for children and posterity. That's not a uniquely Japanese trait; I just think it's a result of the modern global society.

Posted by: sharon at April 27, 2006 9:30 AM

Yesm, it's the same sort of individualism that plagues all of the non-monotheistic cultures.

Posted by: oj at April 27, 2006 10:02 AM