The government has adopted new general principles for nurturing young people, especially those who shut themselves in at home and those not engaged in education, employment or training (NEETs).

The new principles, a revision of earlier principles adopted in 2003, take into account the impact of the Internet and mobile phones on young people and the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

The document points out that the number of NEETs and “freeters” (young part-time workers who frequently change jobs) remains high, and concludes that factors such as the unstable employment situation and parents’ economic difficulties are hindering the healthy growth of young people. An estimate by the labor and welfare ministry says that there were 620,000 NEETs and 1.81 million freeters in fiscal 2007.

The document proposes a wider use of “job cards” containing employment history and assessments by former employers to help young people find new jobs, and the introduction of a “trial employment system,” under which public employment security offices (PESOs) would help young people get full-time jobs after a trial period. While these are good ideas, the public sector should place greater emphasis on providing better vocational training.

To help young people who have stopped going to high school and those who become shut-ins at home, the document proposes that local governments collect information on them from schools and families, and contact them via letters and other means. After learning more about their situation, the local governments would then help them in cooperation with PESOs and nongovernmental organizations.

But there is a possibility that during the process in which the information is collected by local governments such young people may feel that their privacy has been invaded and that they are being stigmatized by society. The government should carefully consider how it can help those in need without stirring negative feelings.

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