Japanese Youths Found Least Optimistic About Future of Their Country: 6-Nation Survey [2022/04/15]
Percentage of respondents replying that their country’s future would “get better.”
The Nippon Foundation conducted an “Awareness Survey of Society and Country” from January 26 to February 8, 2022, covering 1,000 people aged between 17 and 19 in each of six countries: China, India, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The online poll followed a similar survey the foundation conducted in nine countries in late 2019. As in the previous survey, the latest poll showed that in virtually all areas, young people in Japan ranked last behind their peers in the five other countries in terms of their expectations for the future of their country.
Asked whether they believe their country will “get better” in the future, only a little more than one in 10 in Japan (13.9%) responded “yes,” falling way behind those in China (95.7%), India (83.1%), the United Kingdom (39.1%), the United States (36.1%) and South Korea (33.8%).
Regarding whether they think the competitiveness of their country will be stronger in 10 years, a mere 10.9% answered in the affirmative, compared with those in China (89.7%), India (65.6%), South Korea (37.7%), the United Kingdom (34.3%) and the United States (27.4%).
The survey also asked the respondents whether they expect their country will be able to exert leadership in international society. Only one in five in Japan (22.8%) responded “yes,” again lagging far behind China (86.0%), India (79.7%), the United States (61.5%), the United Kingdom (56.2%) and South Korea (53.3%).
The poll was conducted about two months before Japan lowered the legal age of adulthood from 20 to 18, effective on April 1. It had been set at 20 for more than 140 years.
On the question of whether they considered themselves to be adults, about one in four in Japan (27.3%) said “yes,” as compared to those in the United Kingdom (85.9%), the United States (85.7%), India (83.7%), China (71.0%) and South Korea (46.7%).
Queried whether they thought themselves to be responsible members of society, about half of Japanese (48.4%) said they did, still well below young people in India (82.8%), the United Kingdom (79.9%), China (77.1%), the United States (77.1%) and South Korea (65.7%).
About whether they believed their actions could change their country and society, roughly one fourth of Japanese (26.9%) responded affirmatively, compared with India (78.9%), China (70.9%), South Korea (61.5%), the United States (58.5%) and the United Kingdom (50.6%).
Concerning changes in attitude toward social participation since the novel coronavirus pandemic, the results indicated a greater desire to play a role in society compared with pre-pandemic days. Roughly one in five Japanese respondents (18.7%) said they wanted to do something useful for their country and society, although this was far less than the one in two Chinese (53.9%) and one in two Indians (51.1%), with the figures for the other countries somewhere in between−32.2% for the United States, 28.2% for South Korea and 24.2% for the United Kingdom.
Overall, the latest survey found again that young people in Japan expressed more anxiety and a sense of helplessness about the future to a degree not seen in their counterparts in the other countries.
I sincerely hope that the results of the poll will encourage the government and schools in Japan to press ahead with political, social and educational reforms with a view to helping young adults and people approaching adulthood find ways to foster optimism about the future.
Percentage of respondents replying “yes” to statements related to awareness of social participation.
Percentage of respondents replying “yes” to statements regarding their awareness of political participation.