Libmonster ID: U.S.-1410
Author(s) of the publication: N. TEBIN


"God forbid that we should live in an era of change," Confucius said. Current Japanese youth - 20 - 30-summer boys and girls were born at a time when the country was stable, and now they have to live "in an era of change."

Stability was ensured by the system of labor relations adopted since the 1950s and supported by the country's administration and business circles, based on lifelong employment, gradual salary increases in accordance with the length of service in the company and the firm structure of trade unions. First of all, thanks to this, Japan, according to economists, survived the "oil shocks" of the 1970s better than other industrial countries, promptly and successfully restructured industry and the economy as a whole, freed itself from unprofitable extractive industries, low-profit energy-intensive industries, while maintaining leadership in science-intensive, high-value-added sub-sectors.

The overwhelming majority of parents of today's young Japanese people considered themselves "middle class" in surveys conducted at that time, with a small income gap between the extreme strata of the population. Unemployment was at 2%, and employers ' offers exceeded the number of school, college, and university graduates. With most of them, employees of human resources departments of companies and firms signed preliminary employment contracts in advance, even six months before the final exams.

I must say that both parties, both employees and employers, strictly observed the provisions of labor agreements, both collective and individual. Employers, often to the detriment of their economic interests, sought to provide employment for members of production teams, and employees eagerly fulfilled their duties under the motto: "What's good for the company is good for me."

A typical example. In the 1980s, a group of foreign journalists was invited to the leading Japanese news agency Kyodo Tsushin to get acquainted with its work. One of the agency managers who accompanied the group asked to look through the windows of a large room facing the corridor. In it, about 20 people were sitting at tables, most of them reading newspapers or books, some of them taking a nap. "These are our unemployed people," the escort announced with a smile. And he added that due to the introduction of new technology, the need for a number of specialists, such as teletypists, has disappeared. Those interested were offered to undergo retraining, and those of pre - retirement age were offered to leave early with compensation in the form of an increase in severance pay. Some refused such offers and demanded the fulfillment of the employment agreement. For them, a room was equipped, where they came as if to work.

This was not an isolated incident. Companies made losses to maintain their corporate spirit and confidence in the future of their remaining employees.

However, the administration of some companies sometimes used the means of moral pressure to get rid of unnecessary people. In one of the factories in Osaka, a table as a workplace for the unemployed was placed at the checkpoint. A few days later, the unemployed man agreed to the proposals of the administration, because many former colleagues who passed by did not approve of his stubbornness, looked at him reproachfully.

In those years, Japanese youth had a wide choice of paths. Graduates of schools, colleges, and universities sought to get a job in stable large companies, following the eastern saying: "In bad weather, choose a shelter under a large tree." There didn't seem to be any serious bad weather in the Japanese economic sky, and when young people got jobs in large companies, they planned their future until retirement.


Economic growth remained stable until the late 1980s, but this growth was largely due to speculative growth in the stock price and prices of land and other real estate, in other words, it was inflated. Later, the term "bubble economy" appeared. Eventually, in 1990, the "bubble" burst, land prices fell, and consequently, the loans issued under it were unsecured. The entire financial system of the country was on the verge of collapse, a long deep economic depression began, and signs of a way out of it are only now appearing.

In Japan, the 1990s of the last century are often called the "lost decade"by economists. It was during these years that today's young Japanese people began to enter into independent life, became active participants in the labor market. They were unlucky, and the "lost decade" was also an "era of change" in the labor market. The depression was accompanied by layoffs, bankruptcies, an increase in unemployment, which was more than 5% and was accompanied by great difficulties with employment.1

The negative situation on the labor market has changed a lot

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views of young people who quickly began to lose their parents ' work motivation. Reviving this motivation is one of the main tasks of Japanese society.

On the other hand, representatives of this generation have successfully mastered many household innovations created by the work of their parents. Young men and women quickly master new products related to the development of the service sector, the Internet, which forms their consumer mentality. Modern Japanese youth are well acquainted with Western culture, often make foreign tourist trips, and the number of young Japanese people who receive education in foreign universities is growing. Japanese youth are already used to the fact that many everyday problems are solved with the help of a set of appliances. Moreover, in terms of value, an increasing share is accounted for by devices focused on diversifying leisure time - from computers to audio systems and karaoke centers. Just a quarter of a century ago, not every family owned a car.

With rapid changes in everyday life, the experience of older generations is devalued. It becomes unnecessary for young people, for example, the experience of farming in a traditional family. With the change in the material component of everyday life, the life values of young people began to change. On the one hand, a lot of household appliances appeared, and on the other-it turned out that it was impossible to earn money for their purchase. This has led to the current youth problems associated with the concept of parasaito singuru - "parasite loners" ("freeters" and "NEET").

The term parasaito singuru was coined by Masahiro Yamada, a professor at Tokyo's Gakugei University. In 1997, in one of his works, he called so young people who continue to live with their parents even after they have secured a permanent job and started earning decent money. This category of young people is in no hurry to start a family. She is satisfied with a carefree life behind the back of her parents, who bear the whole burden of everyday worries. It is difficult to convince such young people to start their own family and leave their parents ' nest. Later, Yamada conducted a special study, and according to his calculations, in Japan, Parasaito singuru at the beginning of the XXI century made up about 10% of the total working-age population.2

It is unlikely that all adult children who have not married and live with their parents should be considered "parasites". For many reasons, the number of young Japanese people staying with their parents has started to increase since the 1970s, for example, due to the rising age of marriage or due to the high earnings of the head of the family and the increased free time of stay-at-home mothers. 3

The newspaper "Yomiuri", wondering what motivates young people to become "parasites" and live in this status, published a series of articles under the heading "Family " parasites". In one of the collections under the heading " Parasitic loners: are they bloodsuckers on their parents ' bodies or obsessed with chasing their dreams?" Examples are given of how children of well-off parents quit their permanent jobs and switch to a temporary one in order to be able to do what they love. One of the heroines went through such a path and, having realized her dream, became a photojournalist. At the same time, she continues to live with her parents, but her earnings are not so high as to contribute to the family budget. According to her, sometimes she thinks that you need to at least pay the phone bills. From her parents, she does not hear reproaches for not taking on part of the household expenses. However, the mother often expresses regret that her daughter is not married. There are many such girls in the country.

Akihiko Nishiyama, director of the Institute for Urban Studies, says: "Many girls seek to assert themselves before marriage. This is due to the fact that women, in comparison with men, have a higher education than before, and want to have a job that suits them. At the same time, well-off parents support this aspiration."4

The next publication, "Raising' parasites 'as a consequence of the fear of lonely old age," shows how mothers take on all household chores, including washing clothes for their over-aged daughters. Women do not hide the fact that they do this in the hope that in their old age their daughters will help them in everyday life 5.

In today's Japan, there are two types of "services" that parents provide to their children who live with them. Rich parents support their children financially, while poor parents take on many of their daily chores. It can be assumed that the existence of "family parasites "is partly due to parents' fears for their lives in old age.6


Nowadays, educated girls often do not want to leave their parents ' home and get married, because they do not want to put up with the situation in the family in which their mothers were. "If I see that my prospective husband behaves in the traditional style-like my father, I will refuse to marry," says one of the women living with her parents. Her life path, like most of her similar girls, does not look like a parasitic 7.

Rather, many people living with their parents can be classified as "parasitic loners".

page 11

young people, and the criticism of sociologists is directed primarily against them. They themselves have not experienced any hardships from their position and do not feel them. On the contrary, they are completely satisfied with it. They don't care much about their work, because they usually keep their wages and spend them out of pocket. Young men - "lone parasites" have the opportunity for self-realization, but their ambitions are lost, there are opportunities to implement their plans, but the bar is set extremely low. They like the world they live in, and there's no reason to change it.

Many "parasitic loners" - both boys and girls-leave a fairly promising permanent job and switch to a time-based one with a large amount of free personal time. They spend it on pleasant pastimes (for example, discos and parties), and in the best case, on sports and tourism. They do not value a permanent job and become "flyers", easily changing one place to another, especially since in most cases the job offered to them does not require professional skills. In Japan, the name "frithers"is attached to such products. The etymology of this word is controversial. Some researchers claim that it is formed from a combination of the English word " freedom "(free) and the German word" worker " (arbeiter), while others see the origins of the term in the expression "free time"8.

It is believed that the word "freeters" was first coined in 1987 by one of the magazines specializing in information about the labor market. Initially, it did not have a negative connotation and meant young people who were studying a certain profession, but at the same time worked part-time somewhere. Parents supported such aspirations, especially girls who wanted to master the so-called "glamorous" professions (fashion models, flight attendants). Parents rarely objected when their children gave up their regular jobs and became "freeters", even if they saw that their children had almost no prospects of realizing their plans. In 2000, the Organization for the Study of Labor Problems conducted studies that showed that less than 30% of "freeters" achieved their goal. On the other hand, due to various circumstances, this category of young people had the most unreliable employees. They often changed their jobs, or even left them altogether, so the negative attitude towards them from employers grew.


The composition of the "freeters" also changed. A new wave of them spilled out into the labor market in the" era of change " of the 1990s. These were young men and women who, after graduating from educational institutions, simply could not get a permanent job, although they were actively looking for it. These were no longer the classic" freeters " of the first wave. Representatives of the new wave were forced to accept odd jobs without an employment contract. It is these temporary and temporary workers of young ages who now make up the bulk of"freeters". In the older age categories, the share of full-time employees is significantly higher, which is natural, because they entered the labor market in an era of stability with its principle of lifelong employment.

All attempts of "freeters" to get a solid, permanent position, as a rule, end in failure. Satori Kameshima, an employee of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Security, notes that many "freeters" fell into this category right from the school bench. Even in high school, they worked part-time, for example, in trade and food. After graduating from high school, they continued to work at the old place, because they were never able to get a permanent job in the field where there is an opportunity to get a specialty 9. Most of them understand that this situation does not bode well for them in the future.

A 2001 survey of Tokyo "freeters" between the ages of 18 and 29 found that only 4% of them would like to continue this lifestyle for the next 3 years10. It is precisely because many Japanese boys and girls do not feel confident in their employment that they prefer to stay under their parents ' roof. In an editorial, Nikkei Weekly notes with concern that Japanese children are losing their desire for independence and independence and prefer to live with their parents. The education of 80% of Japanese students at the beginning of this century was paid for by their parents. This is twice as much as in most developed countries. "Pampered in their parents' cocoon of a comfortable, carefree life, they can't find the simplest motivation to find a job, " the newspaper writes.

Many employers note that "freeters", having a choice, prefer not high-paid, but hard work, but the simplest, albeit low-paid. The authors of an editorial in the Nikkei Weekly newspaper believe that this has led to the emergence of a new type of personality in the country and to the reform of the traditional employment structure in Japan.11

"Fritters" is more of a common term. In official documents and statistical reference books, they are called temporary employees. Unlike those who are accepted as permanent workers, employers are not associated with "freeters" in any way.-

page 12

dialects and contracts. The employer may, at its sole discretion, dismiss such a temporary employee at any time. In addition, "freeters" are a convenient source of cheap unskilled labor. Compared to regular workers and employees, they receive significantly less for their work, since they are usually paid by the hour. Depending on the needs of production, their working hours can always be reduced. At the same time, they are only trusted with rough work. For many other indicators, they are also not protected. Why hire a socially protected permanent worker or an employee who needs to pay a number of benefits and insurance, notes Reiyo Kosugi, a senior researcher at the Institute of Labor, when you can hire a temporary worker 12. This is used by owners of chains of shops, eateries and other service establishments, where "fritters"often find work.

The gap between the earnings of "freeters" and permanent workers is growing from year to year. In an editorial, the Japan Times regards this as a factor that threatens social stability in the country. According to the newspaper's calculations, if you take the earnings of permanent employees as 100, then in 1998 it was 68.4 for" freeters", and in 2002 it was already 64.9. In 2003, this figure rose to 65.7, but this is due to a reduction in the salary of permanent employees, and not a change in the trend. As the newspaper notes, in fact, this gap is even larger if we take into account that permanent employees receive bonuses twice a year, rather large bonuses, as well as a number of social benefits, for example, they are compensated for travel expenses to work13.

Therefore, it is not surprising that in the context of economic stagnation, especially as long as in Japan in the 1990s, the demand for temporary workers has grown and continues to persist. Also, the fact that young people have the most problems with employment does not require much explanation. Research shows that up to 30% of employers believe that "freeters" are unreliable and irresponsible in their duties. In addition, employers prefer to hire people who already have work experience, rather than young people who do not have the life experience of yesterday's schoolchildren. Even for the simplest positions in the trade, they refuse to accept people without work experience. For this reason, the unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group in 2000 was 9.4% - the highest among all age groups and twice as high as the national average.


The growing share of temporary workers among self-employed workers to some extent complicates the employment of "parasitic loners", who have recently fallen to the lowest level in the total mass of the able-bodied, in the so-called NEET (abbreviation for the first letters of the English expression "does not study, does not work and does not receive a specialty" - not in education, employment or training). Most often, these are young people who remain unemployed for so long that they lose motivation to find a job. For most people, handouts from their parents are enough for pocket expenses. Some people live like this for years after graduating from high school, college, or even college.

The Yomiuri newspaper in one of its issues under the general heading "Society should pay serious attention to the NEET problem" cites several interviews with representatives of this category of young people. Typical of the NEET category, according to the newspaper, is a 30-year-old man. When he wakes up at 9: 30 in the morning, he slowly eats breakfast. He has no reason to hurry, since his main daily concern is to "somehow kill time". He has no friends. He leaves the house only when necessary, and most often goes to the nearest "kombini" - small round-the-clock shops selling sets of semi-finished products and basic necessities. They are very convenient and, having appeared 15 - 20 years ago, quickly gained popularity. Here you can have a snack, pay your bills, and order airline and train tickets online... They became a place for neighbors to communicate and even business meetings. However, the hero of the interview communicates only with sellers, and his conversations are dominated by subjunctive expressions: "I would like", "if only", etc. In a conversation with a newspaper reporter, he said:: "I just don't know what I really need, what I'd like to do." Then he asked in surprise: "What, is this such a big problem?" In its commentary, the newspaper writes that " if he himself is not concerned about this way of life, then society should be concerned about it."14

Indeed, most of the NEET representatives are no longer concerned about the fact that their relatives and friends condemn their behavior. Part of the reason they don't even think about working is that there is no need to worry about money, since their parents are still young and continue to work on lifelong employment contracts, receive decent wages, and kindly allocate small amounts to their children. According to the White Paper on the labor Market for

page 13

In total, at the end of 2003, there were about 520 thousand such people in the country under the age of 35, of which 200 thousand were in the age group of 15-24 years and about 320 thousand in the age group of 25-34 years. This is a very significant number for the labor market 15.

It should be noted that the authorities, especially local authorities, have begun to develop and implement special programs to involve NEET in public life. For example, the Nagoya City Administration has asked private organizations to set up counseling centers for both NEETs and their parents. This reflects a growing concern that the NEET problem is already affecting the social fabric of society.

In Tokyo, a public non-profit organization, the Internet Youth Support Center, has launched a training program for NEET. So far, this is a pilot project. The center is known for working under the auspices of the Ministry of Labor, helping young people excluded from school to socialize. Now the Center works with the NEET contingent aged 16-35 years. They are placed in the Center for 3 months and trained in a number of specialties. During the week, the whole life goes according to a strict schedule, because it is considered important to instill the habit of doing everything by the hour. They are allowed to go home only on Saturday and Sunday. Those who complete the training receive a certificate. There is a hope, say representatives of the Center, that this will help them find a job, and classes will be the first step for their normal socialization. The Ministry has already started organizing similar centers in other cities of the country16.


Experts are very concerned about the fact that" freeters " of the first wave, even growing up, continue to remain in this category, which creates a potential threat to the national economy. The UFJ Institute (United Finance of Japan), a think tank of the largest Japanese financial group of the same name, presented a report on the possible financial and social impact of the growing number of middle-aged "freeters". If in the 1990s the main age group among "freeters" was those who are in their early 20s, now the peak has moved to those who are under 30 and older.

If in 2001, the report says, there were 460 thousand "freeters" aged 35 and older, then according to the forecast, by 2011 their number will increase to 1.3 million people and in another ten years, in 2021, it will exceed 2 million people. Therefore, the goal is to reduce the number of "freeters" among young people by all measures. If this is not done, then by 2016 the wave of "freeters" will reach those who will be under 50 years old, and by 2020 some of them will reach retirement age.

The study shows that since the income of "freeters" is much lower than the income of permanent employees, tax revenues to local government coffers alone will be reduced by 240 billion yen. Revenues to the national treasury will also decrease, and actual losses will amount to 900 billion yen. Revenues to national insurance funds will be reduced by more than 1.0 trillion yen. Other negative consequences are also possible. For example, "freeters" of all ages are likely to avoid marriage, much less having children, adding to the problem of low birth rates. "In any case, in many ways, "the report says," the existence of older freeters will be a big problem for society. Urgent measures are needed to help the Freeters get out of their precarious status as soon as possible."17

Some of these measures have already been taken. To increase the mobility of labor resources, the country's leadership is making changes in legislation aimed at expanding the use of temporary workers. Until December 1999, the use of temporary workers was allowed only for 26 types of work and professions, such as clerk, secretary, translator and the like. Restrictions were gradually lifted, and now almost all professions and positions can accept temporary workers, with the exception of a number of professions in the fields of construction and port workers. 18 A number of companies responded to changes in the laws, including the famous Toyota Motor. It has announced its intention to hire 500 to 1,000 workers on temporary terms. According to a company spokesperson, "this measure will better address issues related to short-term changes in production plans." 19

Japan's economy is currently facing a number of challenges, including changes in the population structure. Both the Government and major private corporations are aware of the need for a fundamental overhaul of the employment system. Given the ongoing demographic changes, according to the 2005 White Paper on the Labor Market, serious adjustments should be made to the labor relations system right now. While it was only recently effective, today it needs a major modernization that would help ensure the viability of individual corporations and entire industries, increasing both employee motivation and professionalism. 20

Lebedeva I. L. 1 Istoki i khod ekonomicheskoi depressii [The origins and course of economic depression]. Ezhegodnik, Moscow, 2000, pp. 101-120; Lebedeva I. L. Nedokostye vremeni yaponskoy promyshlennosti [Difficult times of the Japanese industry]. Ezhegodnik, Moscow, 2004, pp. 75-90.

Masahiro Yamada. 2 Parasaito-Shinguru-no Jidai (The Age of Parasite Loners). Tokyo, Chikuma-Shobo, 2000.

Suzuki Toru. 3 Leaving the Parental Household in Contemporary Japan // Review of Population and Social Policy. 2001, N 10, p. 23 - 35.

4 Daily yomiuri, 14.04.2001.

5 Daily iomiuri, 21.04.2001.

6 Ibid.

7 Daily yomiuri, 28.04.2001.

8 Daily iomiuri, 20.09.2001.

9 Daily yomiuri, 20.12.2000.

10 Asahi Shimbun, 18.09.2002.

11 Nikkei Weekly, 5.03.2002.

12 Daily yomiuri, 20.12.2000.

13 Japan Times, 24.08.2004.

14 Daily yomiuri, 04.06.2005.

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid.

18 Nikkei Weekly, 26.06.2000.

19 Japan Times, 02.04.2004.

20 White Paper on the Labour Economy, p. 46 -


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