1.62 million single jobless Japanese socially ‘isolated’: study

by Robert Moorehead

From The Japan Times:

A total of 1.62 million single unemployed people between the ages of 20 and 59 were “isolated” in Japanese society in 2011, according to a new study released Sunday.

The study defined as “isolated” those who fell within the age parameters and were not employed, receiving education or married, and who were alone or only in contact with family members on two consecutive days of the year.

(This bears repeating: All it takes to be officially “isolated” is being single and either unemployed or not in school, and staying home for two consecutive days.)

Based on surveys conducted by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry every five years, the study estimated that some 2.56 million single people in the 20-59 age bracket were not working or studying in 2011. Of those, 1.62 million were judged to be “isolated” from society, a 45 percent spike from the 1.12 million seen in 2006.

The study, led by University of Tokyo professor Yuji Genda, was commissioned by the education ministry-affiliated Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

“‘Isolated’ people tend to lose the will to find a job, and they are highly likely to end up in a financial bind,” Genda said.

He pointed to the urgent need for the central and local governments to assist such people by sending counselors to visit their homes and by introducing other measures to curb the rising social security costs engendered.

Meanwhile, a government white paper has shown that the total number of people aged 15 to 34 who were not in employment, education or training in 2012 stood at 630,000.

Experts have warned that the growing number of older single people without work is an emerging issue that especially needs to be addressed by the government.

(I’m not denying that social isolation can be a serious problem. The Japanese economy provides few opportunities for those who, for whatever reason, are not on the traditional employment paths. But you would think that the truly isolated spend more than just two days in a row at home.)

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