More than 60 percent of universities in Japan received complaints from students this year about a practice known as owahara, in which companies coerce applicants into halting their job hunt elsewhere in exchange for an informal offer of employment, a private survey has found.
In the survey, conducted by employment information company Disco Inc., 64.8 percent of universities said they received student requests for advice about owahara. The percentage came to 73.2 percent for national and public universities and 62.6 percent for private universities.
Urging students to stop job hunting is known as shukatsu oware (job hunting end) harassment, or owahara for short.
The Internet-based survey was conducted from Oct. 2 to 23 and polled career centers at universities across Japan. It received responses from 267 universities — 56 national and public schools and 211 private schools.
Separately, major companies in Japan delayed the start of job interviews and other recruiting procedures this year from April to August, in line with a government request aimed at ensuring more undistracted study time for university students.
However, the delay failed to bring about the intended results as many small companies and foreign firms did not follow in the footsteps of major businesses, resulting in longer job-hunting periods for many students. Large companies are now expected to bring forward the starting date for next year’s recruiting activities by two months to June.
Of the responding universities, 52.1 percent said students complained about demands from companies to submit a letter of commitment following an informal job offer.
At 37.1 percent of the universities, students reported companies demanded that they pull out of selection processes at other employers in exchange for an informal job offer.
In all, 28.5 percent of the schools received complaints about demands for a letter of recommendation — under a recommendation-free application system.
Complaints that companies demanded that students turn down informal job offers from other companies in exchange for an informal employment offer were heard at 25.8 percent of universities, the survey said.
None of the universities said the delay in companies’ recruiting schedules had a very favorable effect on students, and a mere 2.2 percent, namely six private universities, said it had a somewhat favorable effect.
On the other hand, 41.6 percent, or a total of 111 universities, believed that the move had an unfavorable impact on students, and 14.6 percent, or 39 schools, said the impact was very unfavorable.
Pushing back the starting date for recruitment procedures to August delayed recruitment activities at large companies, while smaller businesses faced the problem of students declining informal job offers, a Disco official said.
The official expressed hopes that bringing forward the start date to June would ease the burden on both students and companies.