What a Hit Netflix Hajimete no Otsukai (Old Enough) The Real Reveal of Taking Risks in Japan
Japanese parents yearn for the safety of their children. If anything, the country can afford to stay out there a little more.
Japan was somewhat surprised to find that a family favorite series TV show, known here as Hajimete no Otsukai (My First Errand), had suddenly achieved international fame on Netflix under the name of Hajimete no Otsukai (My First Errand). call Old Enough.
The show, which features preschoolers doing chores on their own, has sparked worldwide debate over parenting standards. An article in the UK called the reality TV show “bizarre”, quoting a child psychologist who described it as “exploitative and dangerous”. NPR feels compelled to warn parents not to let their children compete with kids in the program lest they break local laws.
The Japanese are annoyed that the heavily scripted show, which has aired here for three decades, is considered “dangerous”. After all, this is a country where children often take the train alone to get to primary school, crammed among rush hour wage earners.
But it would be wrong to conclude that the Japanese have a higher risk-taking capacity than the Western helicopter parents. Foreigners and Japanese draw different lessons from Old Enough. The show isn’t really about kids innovating their ways in the face of tough challenges. It’s more about being active members of society – through the maxim of hard hits. If anything, Old Enough – which first aired in 1991 – reflects some long-established social norms that are only now beginning to change.
Make career expectations. According to a recent survey, the top choice that parents and grandparents want for their children and grandchildren is a job in the national civil service. Two? Local civil service. The country’s largest company, Toyota Motor Corp., came in third.
Not that civil service jobs are particularly attractive. They are hard to find and only pay slightly above the national average. National broadcaster NHK says 30% of civil servants in their 20s work 80 hours or more a month, a level of tolerance that contributes to Japan’s deaths from overwork.
So why is that work so loved by parents? Answer: stability and security. They are the job of a lifetime for those who can stick with its rigors.
In Japan, people stay at their jobs for a very long time instead of venturing back into the labor market. In the US, workers are more transient: 23% have been in their job for less than a year, according to a survey. In Japan, that number is 8%. Those with more than 20 years of service make up 22% of the workforce in Japan and only 10% in the US. Reluctance to change jobs has been one of the main reasons wages have fallen over the past three decades.
College graduates are also less willing to be self-employed. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration has warned of a lack of startups in the country, pointing out that the largest group of listed companies in Japan was formed in the decade after World War II, including including Sony Group Corp and Honda Motor Co.
A similar lack of risk is evident elsewhere: Much less money is invested in riskier assets such as corporate equity and mutual funds than is normal in other countries. Other countries. Companies are often afraid to commit to spending a lot on innovation, allowing foreign competitors to enter and take control of industries like electric vehicles. The risk-taking attitude is also seen in the post-pandemic approach to letting tourists return, a cautious process that has been widely supported by the public but has angered the business community. angry.
However, there are some promising developments. Kishida is right to note the lack of startups, but the nation’s venture capital scene is growing. Funding raised by Japanese VCs is expected to reach a record close to $7.7 billion, less than $1 billion less than a decade ago. While still relatively rare, many young students today are more likely to join or start a startup than a generation ago.
And while sticking to one job is still ideal, the conversion rate among 40- and 50-year-olds has skyrocketed in 2021 to five times what it was in 2013. Competition is increasing for employees. Assets are likely to spur this trend, especially if companies take advantage of the weak yen to return production to Japan.
While parents may want their children to become civil servants, few young people aspire to have a lifelong job. According to a government survey, the number of people who said they wanted to stay in a job fell 8 percentage points in 2018 from five years earlier. Only 4.4% said they would keep doing it even if it was difficult, the second-lowest percentage of the seven major countries surveyed.
As for the list of top career destinations for the nation’s descendants? After the bureaucracy and Toyota, the most popular choices are Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. although they often pay more for talented workers and have outstanding benefits.
The Japanese should revisit Old Enough and learn different lessons. Yes, the show about tough love allows the kids to stand on their own two feet. But that strength must lead to navigating risk, escaping fatigue, and innovating to make life more worth living. Now that the world is watching, Japan should keep that in mind.