Feature

Japan: The next generation has it tough

The new adults—those who turned 20 last year—grew up in a declining Japan.

EditorialYomiuri Shimbun

This year’s Coming of Age Day is bittersweet, said the Tokyo Yomiuri Shimbun. The new adults—those who turned 20 last year—grew up in a declining Japan. The two decades of their lives are known as “the lost decades,” which began with the bursting of Japan’s bubble economy. Our country’s fortunes have waned, and China has overtaken us as the world’s second-largest economy. With the employment situation “still grim,” the nation’s 20-somethings say they are looking for job stability, not stimulation. Yet according to polls, this group is also the happiest generation in Japan today. Sociologists think that’s because the youth have “little expectation that things will get better tomorrow, so they focus on spending joyful times with their peers here and now.” Let’s hope they can harness that ability to see the positive amid the gloom to “come up with flexible ideas unbound by conventional thinking.” Japan will not grow its way out of its doldrums by relying on large manufacturing firms—it needs to adapt to the new global reality of e-commerce and Web-based marketing. Our newest adults, who grew up with laptops and cellphones, will have to lead the way and “take up the role of reinvigorating their companies and society.”

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