Japan's youths favor working in hometowns Survey shows reversal of trend


TOKYO -- In a growing reversal of a recent trend, college students say they hope to return to their hometowns to work after graduation, according to a recent survey.

"There has been a rise in the number of students returning home for employment after attending universities in big cities -- which had been a step to better jobs and a better life for people now in their 40s and 50s -- because of changing attitudes of both the younger generation and of Japanese firms," said Masahiko Fujita, a spokesman with the private job placement information publisher Mainichi Communications Inc. The Tokyo-based firm conducted the survey in April and May.

About 60 percent of the students responding to the survey said they want to work in their hometowns.

Japanese students, most of them in their 20s, have realized that the hustle of city life is not worth enduring the hectic pace, crowds, numerous hours spent commuting and the high rent in the big cities, Mr. Fujita said.

They are finding that it is nearly impossible for new graduates from top universities to buy homes in Tokyo, even after working many years with a major company, he said.

"Perhaps the attitude of the young generation opting for a more leisurely lifestyle is the biggest factor in the new trend, although there are other reasons: like the young generation with fewer siblings than before wanting to be near their parents to take care of them in their old age," Mr. Fujita said.

He said large companies are also affecting the students' choices by relocating their research divisions and important offices away from overcrowded Tokyo, moves that local governments are promoting.

"The aims of both students and corporations have met," he said.

For the survey the firm sent questionnaires to about 260,000 students attending universities away from home in metropolitan areas like Tokyo and Osaka. About 6,700 valid replies we returned.

When asked, "Do you want to get employment in your hometown?" 59 percent replied yes.

Those giving the reply increased by 4 percentage points from a similar survey conducted last year by the same company.

Thirty-seven percent of the students surveyed this year said "working in one's hometown is meaningful," while another 37 percent said they wanted "to be near [their] parents."

Fifteen percent said that they "could lead a leisurely life" by working in their hometown.

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