Dimished expectations in Japan
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 1 12:10:37 MST 2002
NY Times, April 1, 2002
Young People Feel a Chill in Japan's Hiring Season
By JAMES BROOKE
TOKYO, March 30 With Japan's economic engine stuck in neutral for over a
decade, the recession's invisible victims are young people starting out in
a radically changed job market.
Newspaper headlines lament downsizings when world famous companies gingerly
lay off 50-year-old workers with generous severance packages. But the news
media pays little attention to the reduced trickle of young workers going
in the front door. Hiring freezes are freezing out a generation.
"Young people are paying the price for the recession," said Haruo Shimada,
an economics professor who is also a social policy adviser to the government.
At Akirudai High School, a school for children of blue-collar families, 25
miles and a world away from the elegant boutiques of the Ginza, parents of
students had barely taken down the hopeful red-and-white graduation banners
the other day when their children sounded notes of pessimism.
"I looked for jobs, but I stopped after a month because I could not find
the job that I wanted," Tomoaki Isogai said, pausing from signing the
yearbooks of other young men who said they had no steady jobs in sight.
Blue chip companies like Nissan Motor are closing factories in this suburb,
where other workers commute into the city by train.
Mr. Isogai's pessimism was echoed by veteran officials at his high school,
a beige brick and concrete structure built a quarter century ago to handle
a tide of Japanese baby boomers.
Two decades ago, about 90 percent of Akirudai graduates who wanted to work
went straight into good-paying, stable, full-time jobs. This month, about
half of the work-bound graduates drifted into part-time, temporary jobs
with no benefits. Starting monthly salaries have fallen to $1,000 today,
from $1,200 six years ago, said Tamiichi Okuyama, the school's guidance
"I think, How can they make a living with this kind of salary? and I feel
sorry for them," said Mr. Okuyama, in a teachers' meeting room decorated
with trophies from past sports triumphs.
"Compared with their parents," he said, "I cannot say that this
generation's future is brighter. First of all, their incomes will not reach
the level of their parents."
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