Okay, look, I get that there's an entire Internet full of articles on "Look how weird Japan is" and the variations that I've seen of this story are all "ooh, Japanese men are buying sex dolls rather than having sex" but when you dig deeper into these stories you get a sense of a profound cultural disconnect between that isn't entirely dissimilar the way loneliness is felt around the world.
That said, yeah, apparently Japan is suffering a massive drop in birth rate. People aren't hooking up, making babies, or building a life with a partner. Instead these "herbivore men," the term for men who lack the confidence to start relationships, retreat to worlds of fantasy, porn, pop idol worship, and emotional relationships to sex dolls.
RT released a documentary on Youtube called "Substitutes: Japanese men woo silicone sex dolls to overcome loneliness." It's an eerie and somewhat heartbreaking documentary that delves less into the sexual relationships between these old men and their dolls and more the emotional needs being met. They take the dolls on outings, pose them, and interact with them as if they were real people.
A lot of them talk about how the dolls heal the men's loneliness, and they talk about how much easier it is to have a companion that doesn't nag or demand anything from them. There's a sense of fatigue in their overworked lives and intense social demands. I'm not a shrink or an expert on Japanese culture, so I'm genuinely curious about what's going on with all of this and whether or not this phenomenon is a real thing or do only a handful of outliers actually do this and the whole thing is just an easy subject for people to say "look how weird Japan is."
Anyway, the documentary is below. It's a worthwhile watch.