Japanese Youths Face Up to Coronavirus Pandemic [2020/05/22]
The Nippon Foundation conducted the 25th installment of an Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds for three days from April 21 to look into how Japanese youths feel about the novel coronavirus pandemic and its impact on society.
The online survey, covering 1,000 Japanese aged between 17 and 19, showed that while three in four respondents (75.6%) think Japanese people are taking the government’s stay-at-home requests lightly, a vast majority of them (87.4%) reduced person-to-person contact by more than half themselves, with one in three refraining from going out at all.
On how Japan should change in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, 58.1% of Japanese youths said that each person should take responsibility for their own safety, more than twice the number (27.8%) who think the government should be authorized to work out strong measures. Regarding school closures and the cancellation of entrance and graduation ceremonies, 91% said there were no other choices.
The poll results illustrated clearly Japanese youths’ resolve to face up to the outbreak of the deadly disease. It is possible, though, that they were affected by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement on April 16, just days before the survey, that he was extending the state of emergency from seven prefectures to the entire country to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The poll also showed that two in three young Japanese (67.0%) expected there will be a change in society in such areas as the economy (74.2%), healthcare services (64.8%), employment (56.3%) and politics (46.1%), with multiple answers allowed.
But when asked what needs to be changed, politics easily came out on top with 45.6%, followed by healthcare services (17.2%), the economy (13.9%), employment (11.5%), education (7.0%), and the international community (4.8%). This indicates how harshly Japanese youths view what they see as the turmoil gripping the nation’s politics.
It is noteworthy that youths called for responsible behavior and solidarity on the part of society as a whole in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, as indicated by some of their comments: “I want to aim at a society where each of us acts with a sense of responsibility.” “There are always pros and cons. It solves nothing to argue. We want to overcome this crisis with the whole nation united and cooperating.” “Each of us should act responsibly, doing away with the notion that it has nothing to do with me.”
Regarding what will happen after the coronavirus crisis is over, 69.1% of them said they had no idea when it will end. Other worries expressed are they may get infected with the disease (59.7%), school closures might impact their future education, entrance exams and employment (55.9%), the nation’s medical system might be on the verge of collapse (42.4%) and they might transmit the disease to others if they catch the virus (41.9%).
I believe that their responses give a glimpse of their deep anxiety about the COVID-19 outbreak, with no vaccine or proven drug treatments yet developed.
The Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds was the 25th in the series launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, covering 17- to 19-year-olds in Japan. The survey is designed to track the attitudes and awareness of young Japanese regarding politics, society, work, families, friends, and other issues.