By Anna Watanabe
Job hunting, or shuukatsu, is perhaps one of the most stressful experiences a Japanese university graduate will have to face, and it’s taking a huge toll on their mental health.
Yomiuri Shimbun reports that suicide rates of people in their late teens and early 20s have increased 250 per cent from 2007, because fewer graduates are finding full time work.
Beginning in the second half of their third year of study, students spend 18 months handing out resumes and taking interviews in the hope of obtaining a coveted position of lifetime employment in a reasonably-sized company.
But for many of these job hunters, it’s not uncommon to send over 100 resumes, only to be turned down 100 times.
According to the National Police Agency, in 2011, 150 people committed suicide due to not finding a job.
In a society that is still largely defined by who you work for and what you do, the stress of not finding a job is particularly bad. Over 80 per cent of people who committed suicide last year were male.
Last year’s Great Eastern Japan Earthquake has also had a huge impact on the jobless rates of Japan’s graduates.
Over 75 per cent of survivors from Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures are either unemployed or still searching for work, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun. This figure was particularly bad in Fukushima, where only 13 per cent of people have found jobs.
But people outside of Tohoku are also feeling the effects of the disaster.
Another report by the Yomiuri shows that the number of graduates willing to work in nuclear technology jobs has dropped.
Isshin Takenaka, a first-year graduate student at the University of Tokyo in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Management told the paper that instability in the nuclear sector made it too risky a career choice.
“I no longer want to join the nuclear power industry; I’ll search for a job in another field,” he said.
In an attempt to counter these frightening statistics, the Japanese government employment service centre, Hello Work, has announced it plans to set up branches at universities.
The Mainichi Daily reports that the move would allow Hello Work to work closely with the university’s job placement programs as well as smaller, lesser-known firms who are looking for new recruits.
The program would also help to promote work experience and internship programs at local businesses and nonprofit organizations.
The draft proposal of the Hello Work, University program is expected to be discussed in government, with the final proposal to be released in June.