goo Research, in cooperation with the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Ltd, performed an internet-based survey in Decemeber of 2005 amongst 1,076 people regarding their views on NEETs and Freeters. At the same time, 218 companies also answered a similar set of questions, and the answers have been gathered together for presentation in this report, although the text does not make it clear whereabout the company answers have been included. Unfortunately, neither the sex nor the age breakdown of the survey is available, as that might have provided extra clues to interpreting the results.
First, I had better translate a couple of terms. NEET, or Not in Education, Employment or Training, was first coined in the UK to refer to teenagers, mainly, who left school with neither a job not ongoing education lined up. In Japan, it refers to a much wider population; there is no age limit, and as for employment, NEETs may do casual or very short-term labour (in fact, there are a number of heavily-advertised web sites that advertise these pocket-money jobs) and may very well have completed a university degree, but due to various factors have not decided to commit themselves to a job. I am not sure from where exactly they get money to support themselves, but it is most likely from their parents.
Freeters, on the other hand, is a purely Japanese word, formed by taking the English word “freelance”, or perhaps just “free”, and the German word “arbeiter”, meaning part-time, or at least not a full employee, æ£ç¤¾å“¡, seishain. Many of the part-time jobs are in the service industry, so a freeter may flit from flipping burgers in McDonalds for three months, to doing the late night shift at the local convenience for another two months, to two weeks not working at anything at all.
The essential difference is perhaps that a NEET spends more time not working whereas a Freeter works just enough to fund his own time off. Along with the overall decrease in young people, with NEETs and Freeters not contributing much in the way of taxes, the ability of the government to pay pensions in the future is further threatened by the casualisation (is that a word?) of the workforce.