How does one measure satisfaction in life? Money? Relationships? The article “Why are Japanese teens so glum?” in the May 2 edition explains that Japanese teenagers are behind other countries in well-being and happiness. I believe that one reason why Japanese teenagers are glum is because of the social education system and the pressure it puts on them.
The article states that for most Japanese teens “working hard/helping myself get on in life” was their most important value. In Japan, there is a deep-rooted idea that working at a big, famous company and earning lots of money is the way to lead a happy life. And in order to get into a “good” company you must attend a good university and be well-educated. Students concentrate on studying for university entrance exams and many attend cram schools, especially during the juku season. This system puts stifling pressure on teenagers, while at the same time causing them to suffer in the gap between the glum reality of their intellectual ability and the “ideal” level of education that society demands they have.
Inevitably, people cannot be 100 percent satisfied with their lives. But I feel that teens spend too much time struggling for the life that society expects them to lead.
Rethinking our fixed idea of the “elite” educational social system could allow teenagers to relax a little more. Life only happens once, why not let them live it the way they want to?
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.