NEETs in Japan: What Does It Mean?

  • Although Japanese are considered to be very hard working people, there is still a fracture of people that don’t want to work. The definition of NEET was created to define the generation from 15 to 34 years old that do not wish to work. How did this happen and what does the government do to solve this problem?

    Definition of NEET

    NEET – short for ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ and is used to describe people who are lazy/do not want to work. It was first mentioned in Japan in 2004 by social psychologists and quickly spread out with the release of the books written about NEETs by the pioneers in this aspect, such as Genda or Maganuma.

    This word originated from England and then spread to Japan and a few other asian countries. In Japan, there are 3 types of jobless people: ‘jobless’ for people who are looking for a job but haven’t found one, ‘freeter’ (a combination of ‘free’ in English and ‘Arbeiter’ in German) for those who are working part-time or are freelancers, and finally ‘NEET’ for those who refuse to work.

    In 1993, there were about 400,000 NEETs. But in 2008, the number increased to 640,000, which is equal to 2.3% of the population of Japan. The number of people aged 25 to 29 also increased significantly, now being 60% of all the NEETs.

    Why are there any NEETs?

    One of the main reasons for NEET to become a thing was the economic stagnation during the 1990s. This led to higher unemployment rate among youth (around 2.13 million)
    Moreover, some changes in the work field made it hard for newly graduated students to adjust to their jobs.

    Another reason is that the younger generations have a very different views on work. They won’t accept jobs that are unsuitable or not ideal for them. They don’t find working as “salaryman” a good career path anymore. Moreover, Japanese rarely express themselves openly or ask for other people’s help, and that is why many choose to lead a different life, and some choose to become NEET.

    The Government’s Solution

    In order to prevent more people from becoming NEET, since 2004, Japan’s Government designed a program called ‘Job education’ to be taught in schools so that the students can understand more about working after graduation, and they will have more positive attitude about their future jobs. It is made to make them understand that a stable job is an ideal dream, not becoming a NEET or a “freeter”.

    The Government also creates relationships between universities and workplaces so that the students can go on internships to gain more experience. A ‘Youth camp’ was also founded in order to help all the NEETs gain better social skills so that they can find jobs.