Freelance writer Kenji Ayase was 25 when he moved back in with his parents after finding he couldn't afford to live on his own. He tried, but found within a year that it just wasn't paying off.

After seven years, the Tokyo resident's annual income remains around ¥2 million, the threshold of the so-called working poor. At 32, he remains single.

Nonetheless, Ayase (not his real name) says he considers himself lucky compared with other economically challenged young adults who are unable to move out.