Despite the country’s strong economy, young people surveyed in Japan worry about their future standard of living.
Japan is clustered with other high income countries in the top third of Index countries. Young people in Japan enjoy good wellbeing overall, but the country ranks 26th in the health domain.
At 6th, Japan also ranks in the top third of Index countries in the economic opportunity domain. A high GDP per capita (US$47,150) drives this rank. Youth unemployment (7 percent), youth not in education, employment or training (NEETs, 4 percent), youth entrepreneurial activity (4 percent), and youth borrowing (1 percent) are all low. These figures indicate that young people may be going into the formal sector rather than exploring entrepreneurship.
Japan ranks in the bottom third of Index countries in the health domain. Young people’s tobacco use is high (23 percent), and 67 percent of Japanese youth surveyed feel their lives are too stressful. The rate of youth self-harm fatalities—25 deaths per 100,000 youth in 2015, up from 18 per 100,000 in 1990—is significantly higher than the Index average (16 per 100,000).
Results for gender equality are mixed for Japan. The country has a very low rate of female adolescent marriage (1 percent), and 82 percent of youth surveyed feel women should have all the same rights as men. However, 38 percent of young women fear walking alone at night, and Japan ranks 21st among Index countries for the civil liberties domain.
The Global Millennial Viewpoints Survey
Responses from young people surveyed in Japan clearly illustrate the pattern observed among Index countries of an inverse correlation between strong quantitative performance and weak youth perceptions. For safety and security, Japan ranks 1st for three of five indicators: internal peace, youth road fatalities, and youth interpersonal violence. However, Japan is 26th for youth perceptions of safety; 35 percent of youth surveyed say they fear violence, harassment, or bullying at school or work.
This correlation is evident again when comparing Japan’s wealth and young people’s expectations for their future standard of living. Japan ranks 6th for economic opportunity, but 29th for the indicator related to young people’s economic expectations. Only 16 percent of youth surveyed feel their future standard of living will be better than that of their parents. It is possible that when the base standard of living is relatively high, youth do not expect to exceed it.
Only 24 percent of Japan’s youth surveyed feel the government cares about their wants and needs; this figure is 8 points below the Index average of 32 percent. This feeling contributes to Japan’s placement in the lower third of countries for the citizen participation domain.