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Young Japanese seek security of government jobs

  • February 3, 2016
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unnamed (12)Ask Japanese college students about their career aspirations and you may be surprised to hear many of them say they would like to work for the government. The most popular “dream job” among young Japanese is civil servant, surpassing jobs at such corporate giants as Toyota, Mitsubishi-UFJ Bank, and Mitsui & Co., according to the results of a survey of college students cited by the weekly magazine AERA (11/16/2015).


The public sector used to have a negative image among job seekers because the work was said to be boring, the salary low, and the hours long. But since the burst of economic bubble in the early 1990s brought the “lost decades,” Japanese youths witnessed the massive layoffs and deep salary cuts at such prominent companies as Panasonic and Sony. They concluded that holding out for commercial-sector jobs would be too risky. In contrast, the administrative and civil service reforms over the past ten years aimed at eliminating bureaucratic red tape turned out not to be as draconian as the business restructuring implemented by corporate Japan. Thus, the magazine said, it is only natural for young Japanese to seek government positions because they offer job financial security, which are deemed essential for marrying and raising a family and purchasing a home and car.


The young civil servants featured in the article mentioned a number of the merits of government work, including shorter workingunnamed (17) hours, fewer restrictions on taking leave, steady wage hikes, and generous retirement packages. Qualified central government employees are able to enjoy paid sabbaticals for academic study abroad, while others are furnished with apartments in central Tokyo at inexpensive rents. In short, government jobs make “healthy” work-life balance possible. A female college senior who hopes to work at a Tokyo ward office said: “The government is an ideal workplace since taking maternity and childcare leave is relatively easy.” Furthermore, government employees are regarded as “trustworthy” and this allows them to enjoy good reputations especially in the countryside. In fact, government employees’ working conditions are so good that they are frequently referred to as “public servant paradise.” According to the weekly, some civil servants even think of themselves as “aristocrats” who belong to the “upper class.”


Although many young people appear to be attracted to the public sector primarily due to job security, some are more “altruistic” unnamed (13)in their aspirations. A spokesman of a preparatory school for university students wishing to take public servant exams attributed the popularity of government jobs to some young people’s eagerness to be involved in community service. This tendency has become more pronounced following the 3/11 triple disasters five years ago. “Impressed by all the people working tirelessly to help the victims at the time, many of today’s Japanese youths have chosen to do volunteer work,” said the official. “Since they enjoyed doing community work, they tend to avoid private-sector jobs because they are profit-driven.” One female student reportedly said: “I’m more interested in government work than pursuing commercial interests because I would like to serve the people.” According to Director Nishikawa of Meiji University School of Public Administration, more female students are eager to work for the government than before, and the Defense Ministry, the National Police Agency, and other law enforcement agencies are popular among those hoping to become public servants.


Consumer trend analyst Atsushi Miura explained that most young Japanese nowadays are anxious to ensure their own security in view of the rapid aging of society and prolonged economic doldrums, and that their primary concerns are childcare and elderly care. “As a result, the government’s responsibility in offering viable social welfare systems has become even greater,” he said. “More young people are lured to this type of public service because they may be disappointed with commercial enterprises, some of which are still marketing ‘unnecessary merchandise’ since Japan has become a saturated market in which the target customers already own the products being offered.” However, Miura expressed concern over contemporary youths’ rejection of the commercial sector that he claims holds the key to the country’s economic viability. The magazine underscored that university students should recognize that developing new technologies, manufacturing products, and coming up with unique services at private companies is just as rewarding and beneficial to the public as working for the government.

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