Monday, January 24, 2005
The Saddest Country
"Japan's free spirits," BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3701748.stm, 24 January 2005.
When I was reading these articles (hat tip No Left Turns) I was going to tie some points together with my earlier discussion of aikokushin. In particular, I wanted to expound on how Tony Williams' point
The meritocratic class has clearly gone the way of birth control and severely limiting family sizes for the most part. Their drive for later marriages or never marrying and when they do two incomes and devoting larger resources to fewer children indicates that the professional classes will not be at the vanguard of any population explosion. Actually, I’m surprised that the prediction for U.S. growth is so high with current trends in thinking and action.
plays into the banishment of patriotism of Japan's school curriculum. And how Japan's tilt leftwards during the Occupation is still hurting that land.
But once again, Japan got the better of me.
Bartender Shinichi Yoshimoto used to do a 16-hour day at a loan-sharking company. "I took the first train to the company, and I took the final train home," he said.
But he gave it all up to become a "furita" - a term used to describe those who do part-time or short-term work.
Shinichi, who has travelled to nearly 40 countries, said his time abroad opened his eyes.
"I realised that life is very short, so I don't have any time. Life is only for joy... I like losers like me."
But not everyone is keen on Japan's "losers", who over the last decade have become an increasingly visible section of the population.
Hideaki Omura, a lawmaker with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said 4 million furita out of a working population of 65 million was "very serious".
"We should enforce a policy to make young people get a proper job," he said.
He stressed that furita do not pay income tax or make pension contributions.
"They work only when they want to, so... they are not the regular workforce that the country can rely on.
"They are young people, very lively with good skills and potential, but they don't contribute their skills."
Kei said some of Japan's unskilled work was being outsourced to countries like China or Vietnam, and that corporate Japan was hiring fewer new recruits instead of cutting established staff.
"They (Neet [Not in Education -- dropouts in a nation with no truancy laws]) cannot step into society again because they're afraid of people and lack confidence. They don't need to get into society again because of their parents," Kei said.
What exacerbates their problem, says Yuji Genda, the author of a book on Neet, is their dislocation from a broad social spectrum.
"I have never met a Neet who doesn't want to work. My impression is that they want to work too much. They think about what is the goal or concept of work too much. They are very serious."
He said Neet had no real understanding of the world, for which he blamed shrinking social networks.
"There are lots of kids who have never talked to adults, apart from parents and teachers."
The most heart-rending letter from the Dark Ages speaks of the growing old of the world. Japan has avoided most of the idiocy of Europe, and overseers a gentler society than America, and yet it is growing old.