Regarding Eddy Nelson’s Jan. 28 letter, “Why are young adults so glum“: I don’t think Nelson’s letter is a product of malice, but rather one of a naive understanding of young people similar to that which has become so popular among the Japanese media. What Japanese young people really need now is not a sermon, but decent job opportunities and an admission of the economic facts from middle-age and senior Japanese.

As Nelson mentioned, the Japanese working system has both changed and not changed. But most of the changes have been pushed onto younger people; the status quo has remained the same for the majority of senior-level workers.

For instance, it is likely that one of every three young Japanese will become an “irregularly employed” worker regardless of his/her efforts and skills. Earnings for this category of worker will never exceed those accepted by “regularly employed” freshmen. Such earnings merely allow one to keep living in a wretched apartment, alone and frugally. As for young “regular workers,” they are the easy layoff targets, and many managers trade on their fear of becoming “dropouts” by overworking them largely without commensurate raises or overtime pay.

Despite the Japanese media depictions, it is young people who tend to show us casual good will and courtesy in public areas rather than middle-aged and senior people. Although the average homicide rate for young people fell from 1.82 per 100,000 youths during the 1960s to 0.66 between 1995 and 2004, many journalists never stop describing today’s Japanese youngsters as vermin.

So, with regard to the international survey cited by Nelson, if you are a young Japanese, do you think it is wise to make an unconditional surrender to the community snobs by expressing satisfaction with your life so that they can point to your attitude as that of a well-prepared young citizen?


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