Whether you're attending a new school or looking for a date, meeting people and making friends can be awkward and challenging. Apparently it’s really, really hard if you’re young and living in Japan.  

Japanese girlfriends \\ Photo: Yagi Studio; Getty Images

A recent article in Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s biggest newspaper, intimates that Japanese university students are finding it increasingly difficult to make friends.

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Afraid to be seen alone or labeled a “loner,” students are failing to attend classes at record highs and even dropping out of university altogether.

A 2009 survey held by Fukushima University shows the trend is on the rise; 31 percent of students said the most common reason for not attending classes were “reasons of passiveness” such as they’d lost the will to do it anymore.

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Within one month of matriculating, Shouta, a 24-year-old student stopped attending university in the Kansai region.

“My hands would shake even if I just went towards university, and my stomach would hurt. I was frightened of people I didn’t know,” Shouta told Yomiuri Shimbun.

“Now university students don’t attend circles and clubs as much as they used to,” suggests Ide Sohei, a part-time lecturer at Osaka University in a new survey. “If they fail to make friends in the first instance, they’ll be isolated the whole time.”

Desperate for social interaction, Japanese youth are turning to rent-a-friend services. For roughly $344, a Tokyo firm called Client Partners can soothe ones loneliness with a platonic companion for a few hours.

“It’s a relief that they will just accept you unconditionally,” 25-year-old Koichi told Yomiuri Shimbun.  “If you’re going to get hurt, it’s better to spend some money instead.”

Read the rest of the story on JapanCrush.com here.

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Photo: Yagi Studio/Getty Images