Christmas Eve surpasses Valentine's Day as the romantic dinner event for Japanese couples, but viewed as a socioeconomic read on Japan, the celebration highlights two major problems the country faces: low wages and low birth rates.
"Twenty and thirty-somethings are disproportionately struggling to find stable, well-paying jobs – and that is making young Japanese men shy away from getting into relationships," said Naoki Yokota, senior researcher at Meiji Yasuda Institute of Life and Wellness.
According to the Institute's latest survey, the majority of Japanese women want potential partners to earn at least 4 million yen, around $33,728, but only 26.7 percent of men in their thirties meet that criteria; the number more than halves for men in their twenties.
Middle class incomes for men in their twenties and thirties are fallowing out. The number of thirty-somethings earning between 5 million and 6 million yen, around $42,628 to $51,154 – the average household income range in Japan – fell by almost 10 percent between 1997 and 2012, a recent government white paper showed. Incomes for twenty-somethings also fell.