Japanese people not in employment or education have said “If you get a job, you lose!” but how do they feel once they actually join the workforce?

The existence of NEETs (people not in employment, education, or training) in Japan runs counter to traditional Japanese values of hard work and responsibility. But Japanese society also often maintains that families should take care of problems internally, and so if young men or women slip into NEET status, many of their parents feel a duty to support them for as long as necessary until they achieve financial independence.

Many perceive a connection between NEETs and otaku, and indeed some anime and manga glamorize the NEET lifestyle of sleeping until noon, spending almost all of your waking hours watching anime and playing video games, and enjoying the free food that Mom and Dad keep the refrigerator stocked with. There’s even a tongue-in-cheek motto among those fantasizing about becoming or remaining NEETs: “Hataraitara make,” or “If you get a job, you lose.”

But while some may dream of putting off the socioecnmoic responsibilities of adult life for as long as possible, what about recovering NEETs who have managed to land a job? Do they really feel like they’ve lost the game of life? To find out, Japanese employment consultant Leverages, and its sub-brand Hataractive, surveyed 462 freeters (members of the Japanese workforce employed in temporary, part-time positions) who used to be NEETs.

Of the freeters surveyed, 41.8 percent said they had been NEETs for some period of time, with that status being slightly more common among the men (44.5 percent) than women (39.3 percent). Most, 58.4 percent, had been NEETs for six months or less, with another 21.6 percent listing their NEET period as six to 12 months and the remaining 20 percent at more than a year.

Obviously, being a freeter doesn’t really pull in the big bucks. It usually involves working a variety of service sector jobs, which translates to night and weekend work, in restaurants and retail jobs. So after spending some time at one of the lower rungs of the Japanese economy, do the survey’s freeters wish they could go back to being cared-for-by-others NEETs?

Nope. When asked if they’d like to be a NEET again, the overwhelming majority, 83.8 percent, said no.

It’s a heartening statistic. NEETs are oftentimes considered to be lazy, lost causes with no desire to become productive members of society. But the survey’s ex-NEETs show that not only is it possible to break out of NEET status and find work, but also to be happy to leave your NEET days behind for a more independent and fulfilling life.

Source: Nico Nico News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso