Outstanding Japanese student participation may not be what it seems.

The Organizing Committee of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics struggled in the initial stages to find suitable volunteers, an effort that luckily managed to rapidly gain pace among foreigners.

It is now well past the 21 December deadline for volunteer applications, and despite negative sentiments by some Japanese netizens about how helpers were being exploited with long work hours and little remuneration, a grand total of 186,101 applications have been filed.

▼ Which far exceeded the required 80,000 positions.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the overwhelming response,” said Toshiro Muto, secretary general of the Organizing Committee.

Analyses have revealed that 63 percent of volunteers were women, and foreign nationals made up 37 percent of the overall force. The highest proportion of helpers came from the 20s age bracket at 29 percent, but a closer examination shows that the highest number of volunteers from the Japanese side was in the teens bracket at 25 percent.

While student volunteers brimming with excitement to assist the Olympics may sound nice, a tweet from a Japanese student revealed that something else was going on in schools.

“We were all ordered to fill up volunteer application forms.
This is the dark side of metropolitan high schools.”

Japanese netizens were impressed with the numbers, though some were upset that students in their teens made up the bulk of the Japanese volunteers:

“That’s because some of the schools were forced to participate.”
“25 percent in their teens? Did the schools pressure students to do so?”
“I really respect those who decided to help out.”
“This doesn’t make any sense.”
“That isn’t recruitment at all.”

Although the volunteer shortage has been alleviated, it is disconcerting to know that the offset may have been caused by some schools “strongly recommending” volunteering to Japanese students. At least they will get paid, even if it is only 125 yen an hour.

Source: Kyodo via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso