More Than Half of Working Japanese Youths Were Not Aware of COVID-19 Financial Aid Program [2021/11/22]
Has your interest in politics and social issues increased or decreased compared with before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic?
The novel coronavirus pandemic has greatly affected people from all walks of life in Japan, regardless of gender and age. Especially for young people, their school life has been dramatically altered by online classes, while the COVID-19-hit economy makes it harder to find jobs and plan for a career.
Against this background, The Nippon Foundation conducted a survey on the “Coronavirus and Social Participation” for six days from September 16, covering 1,000 Japanese aged between 17 and 19 across the country.
The online poll found that since the first coronavirus case was reported in Japan in January 2020, respondents reduced their indoor wining and dining with three people or more (69.1%), participated in fewer community activities and events (58.2%), and used public transportation less (53.4%).
Of all the respondents, those who were working when the poll was taken accounted for 32.5%, while 7.6% said they were not working then, but have worked at least once since January 2020.
Of those who were working at the time of the poll, about one in five (20.6%) said their income declined due to the pandemic, while more than 40% (41.9%) said they felt job openings had decreased.
COVID-19 has also made young Japanese more interested in politics and social issues. Compared to before the outbreak of the pandemic, they have an increased sense that (multiple answers accepted) politics and elections affect their life (33.9%), they have ideas and think about politics, elections and social issues (27.9%), talk with people around them about those issues (25.9%), and proactively obtain information on such issues (24.4%).
For me, what was unexpected in the findings was that of those who were working or who have worked during the pandemic, more than half (52.6%) were not aware that part-time workers were eligible for the government’s financial aid program for people whose income declined.
Surprisingly, only about one in ten (9.2%) of those who have worked during the pandemic had applied and received such aid from the government. The rest did not apply even though they met the criteria (7.5%), or because they did not meet the criteria (11.2%), or because they did not know what the criteria were (19.5%).
Initially, companies and store owners were supposed to apply to the government for financial aid for their employees whose income declined due to the pandemic. However, owners of many small and medium-sized companies and stores were reluctant to apply on behalf of their employees due mainly to what they see as cumbersome and complicated procedures.
This has prompted the government to allow individual workers to apply on their own. But it doesn’t make any sense if people are not aware that they are eligible.
Japan has made progress in mitigating the effects of the coronavirus so far. But there are still many uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and where things go from here, sometimes forcing policy-makers into confusion. I strongly hope the government will do all it can to keep people well informed on how its COVID-19 responses work, and how they help them and the nation’s economy.
How has the pandemic affected your job hunting and career?