Young Unhopefuls

“People in Japan are stuck in the office for countless hours. Why do they do that? There must be a better way to live. Japanese companies are so rigid, making young people afraid to change jobs or be enterprising. So they end up working for the same company until retirement. That’s one reason there are few entrepreneurs. Then there’s also a stigma of failure. Game over if you fail. As a result, most people prefer job security. But that system (lifetime employment) is broken. It won’t last.

“It’s really sad for me to see young people without hope. It’s as if there’s nothing to look forward to. Combine that with a society as safe as Japan, where there’s no conflict, then you get people who have ostrich syndrome. Instead of facing problems, such as the shrinking population, ballooning national debt, and pension benefits they’ll never see, they’d rather bury their heads in the sand. Which is why I want to help. Why? I live here and I have a stake in Japan. I’ve been able to achieve my life goals because of the opportunities Japan has afforded me. I want to tell them it’s OK to take risks.

“If you’re waiting for the government to act then don’t hold your breath. Governments in general are slow. And Japan’s consensus decision-making makes it even slower. Right now the Japanese government is extending the retirement age so more qualified workers can work longer. But unless there’s a huge (and maybe unpopular) change in society, either in immigration or women in the workforce, then that’s just a band-aid solution. In manufacturing, everything has to be perfect before releasing a product. They don’t release a beta version. The product might be perfect by the time it’s released, but what if the market has already moved or shifted? The same thing with fixing society. That’s their mentality for everything. Maybe by the time they fix the population problem, there might be no one left in Japan.”

Mervin was born in Malaysia but grew up in New Zealand. He moved to Japan to fulfill a dream. He now helps Japanese businesses expand overseas through a company he founded: Language Art Consulting



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Finding diversity and inclusion. Breaking down barriers one post at a time. Stories and snapshots of foreigners making their way in Japan.

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