On Monday’s Coming-of-Age Day, 1.22 million people joined the ranks of adults. They should be wished good luck on their new journey. They are advised to go through their lives with the keen realization that they are adults now.
These new adults, born in 1999, are a generation who have lived a life of convenience since childhood, due to the spread of such things as cellphones and smartphones.
According to an opinion survey conducted by the Cabinet Office last year, more than 80% of respondents aged 18 to 29 said they feel fulfilled with their present lives.
The economy continues to gradually recover, and corporate employment remains stable. It is safe to say that this economic situation is reflected in the respondents’ feeling of satisfaction with the status quo.
According to an international survey taken by the Cabinet Office on people aged 13 to 29, however, only 60% of those polled in Japan said they are hopeful about their future. This figure is considerably low compared with young people in the United States and Britain, about 90 percent of whom answered likewise.
Many young Japanese people seem to feel vaguely insecure about the durability of the social security system, including pension benefits, and about such matters as how to cope with both work and child-rearing.
The results of one survey show that the percentage of people aged 18 to 24 who know the basics of the pension system — that is, that they will be able to receive pension benefits in accordance with the amount of premiums they have paid and the terms of their payment — is extremely low compared with the percentage among other generations. Their lack of this basic knowledge seems to have made them feel apprehensive in this respect.
It is advisable for them, first of all, to acquire the knowledge necessary for their lives, such as that regarding taxes and social security.
When young people become adults, they have an obligation to pay pension premiums. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry needs to convey easy-to-understand information about various systems.
It is also useful to know the actual circumstances surrounding child-rearing. A Tokyo-based company called “manma,” of which Hinae Niori, 25, is president, conducts activities aimed at having university students and young working adults visit two-income families.
These students have conveyed to Niori their impressions of these activities, saying they had thought it was difficult to raise children while also working, but that they saw it was possible to live a fulfilling life by demonstrating ingenuity in doing these tasks.
Hopefully this experience will alleviate their anxiety about the future and prompt them to take new steps.
It is also hoped that society will support young people who take on challenges. The Akita prefectural government has launched a project to extend assistance for young people, for instance, to cover part of their costs in setting up businesses. Makoto Yashima, 30, of Senboku in the prefecture has applied for the project and is planning to open a sauna facility where customers can enjoy nature. Yashima’s aim is to promote regional reinvigoration.
Akira Yoshino, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year, has appealed to younger generations, saying, “It won’t hurt you to fail and take on challenges.” With this message as encouragement, why not take on a challenge?