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Published by: JPIC | Hardcover |
ISBN 978-4-916055-83-5
294 pages | 220mm (h) x 148mm (w) | March 2017

Society

The Happy Youth of a Desperate Country

The Disconnect between Japan’s Malaise and Its Millennials

Noritoshi Furuichi

Translated by Raj Mahtani

Books

About the Book

Young people living today in Japan, a socially polarized society, have been reported as unhappy. According to surveys, however, 80 percent of them are currently “satisfied” with life. By drawing attention to this contradiction, The Happy Youth of a Desperate Country, by sociologist Noritoshi Furuichi, has revolutionized the discourse on youth theory.

 

Opening with an exploration of a meta-youth theory, which takes us on a whirlwind tour through the history of the public debate on young people underway since the Meiji period, the author reveals, with sober clarity, how the rhetoric on young people, or the so-called “youth theories,” have been essentially opportunistic: a means of soul-searching for adults, and even a marketing strategy, among other things.

 

The book goes on to investigate numerous arguments, including those claiming that today’s young people are introverts and buying fewer consumer goods. The portrait that arises as a result is that of a generation content with life in the here and now, but doubtful about the future—a future in which the steady impoverishment of the fruits of the “economic miracle” realized by their parents’ generation appears inevitable, exacerbated by a declining birthrate, the aging of society, and other issues such as the rise of NEETs (those not in education, employment or training) and the low-class elderly, an age group that also comprises the drifting homeless.

 

A sweeping reference work drawing from a wealth of statistics and perspectives, The Happy Youth of a Desperate Country is also sprinkled with up-close interviews and anecdotal accounts of the author as participant observer in various scenes, including a gathering of young people living it up in Shibuya on the night of the FIFA World Cup. In addition, in an exclusive interview with the popular actor Takeru Satō, the author delves into the mindset of young people living in Japan today, a time when, as the author puts it, the ability to play the Wii with one’s lover and friends exemplifies a decent lifestyle.

 

This English-language edition is based on a reissue of the book that contains approximately two hundred additional footnotes. It is the definitive work for anyone seeking to acquire a wide-ranging grasp of Japan and its young people from a defining voice of their generation.

About the Author

Born in 1985 in Tokyo, Noritoshi Furuichi is a sociologist and a senior researcher at the Keio Research Institute at Shonan Fujisawa Campus. A prolific author and TV celebrity, member of a committee of experts at governmental conferences, and a recipient of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science’s Ikushi Prize, he drew wide attention with the publication of Zetsubō no kuni no kōfuku na wakamono-tachi [The Happy Youth of a Desperate Country] (Kodansha, 2011), a work published in his mid-twenties. He continues to be in the limelight as a “young” scholar of Japan’s youth society.

Published by: JPIC | Hardcover |
ISBN 978-4-916055-83-5
294 pages | 220mm (h) x 148mm (w) pages | March 2017