Japan Today



Neo-NEETS: Living on other people’s money


“Daishi-san,” 25, got fired from a part-time job four months ago. “That’s it,” he decided; “I’ll never work again.” He does okay, though. Ask him his profession and he has a ready answer: “I’m a new-generation NEET.”

NEET stands for “not in education, employment or training.” Put bluntly, it means doing nothing. Idled youth was an offshoot of the “hiring ice age” that characterized the two-decade-long recession that set in in the mid-1990s. Companies simply weren’t hiring. Young people graduated from college into a work world that had no place for them. Low-paying, dead-end part-time jobs were the best many could do – with consequences still with us as that generation advances, bitter, unfulfilled and poor, into middle- and old-age. Those who took the part-time jobs for lack of anything better were called “freeters.” Those who refused to stoop to that all too often became NEETs – living, for the most part, off their parents.

NEETs were a major social issue through the 2000s. Then the economy recovered somewhat, and media attention shifted elsewhere. Now, says Spa! (Jan 14-21), here come the neo-NEETs.

Descended from their predecessors, they nonetheless differ from them. Daishi is not living off his parents. He’s self-supporting. How does he do it? He lives – and is by no means alone in doing so, if Spa! has its finger accurately on the pulse – on “other people’s money.”

It’s an art. Daishi’s mastered it. His followers on Twitter number some 700. That’s not impressive, by social media standards, but considering the obligation he imposes on them, it’s remarkable, even astonishing. The obligation is that they support him.

Why would they? Partly, maybe, it’s the respect that boldness naturally inspires. Someone self-confident to that degree may well be worth knowing. “I myself could never do it,” you might think; “why not encourage someone who can?”

It’s not only that, though. His vow never to work again actually meant never to be regularly employed. Odd jobs are another matter. He’s a self-described “rent-a-NEET.” He’ll do for you what needs doing, whatever you want, the pay to be left up to you. He’s weeded gardens, been a photo model and a voice actor; he cleans share houses in lieu of rent. Want to go drinking but not alone? He’ll drink with you – in straight bars or gay, as you prefer. Sometimes it’s a question of, “I’ll give you three hours of my time, whatever you want me to do in return for whatever you give me.” The computer he uses for tweeting and blogging was procured that way.

Mr “Pro-ogorareya,” 21, has chosen a similar path. The name he uses means pro as in professional, plus the  verb “to be treated.” Treat me to a living, is his invitation in effect, and he, too, gets by, it seems, more than adequately. Instead of odd jobs, he puts out an email magazine that draws paying subscribers. His subject, of course, is his life on “other people’s money.” His followers treat him to meals, drinks. They ask him, “This is how you live?” He replies, “Sure.” He must be a very good conversationalist.

He sounds like one. Spa! asks him how he explains his success. He says, “People who have money have lots of it. Tastes have diversified. The means to satisfy them proliferate – to such an extent that the mere possession of things no longer gives the pleasure it used to. One alternative is to support interesting lifestyles” – like his.

That may be fine at 25 and 21, but is there a future in it? We’ll just have to wait and see.

© Japan Today

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In other words, he’s a loser.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

That’s it,” he decided; “I’ll never work again.”

...but from the description in the article, he does. Only not in a specific job, but for whatever people pay him. Which can be pretty sh1tty sometimes, I assume.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

So still living off mummy and daddy then....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Do they take him shopping for toilet paper, dishwashing soap etc. Sounds like being owned for certain pleasures.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

On the plus side, it seems neither of the two blokes mentioned have targeted vulnerable and lonely women with wealth to support them. Perhaps it's a matter of time. But managing so far with simplified needs, day to day jobs and a zine sounds as if they are not complete parasites. To each his own.

However, I'm less magnanimous toward those who simply mooch off their parents without contributing anything to house and yard work, preparing meals or other tasks that are part of maintaining a household.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

while some people don,t want to understand it and just call these people “losers”, my opinion is that there,s some logic to it. i,m referring to the fact that people are getting sick of being slaves of society. everybody says “this is supposed to be like this”. well, maybe not. and then there,s people working more than 90% of their time... that begs the question, are we really living life...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I'd like to see him try to do this when he's middle aged.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'm not sure why some of you are calling these guys losers. They seem to be doing just fine, they aren't asking for handouts, they're asking for payment in exchange for services. I see zero problems with what they are doing. It actually doesn't sound like that bad of a life.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The Neo-NEETS described here are likely not as blithe as this article suggests. This reminds me of La Vie De La Boheme, which I have seen in the Beats, the Hippies and, of course, the so-called starving artists, painters, sculptors and poets. There is this exuberance to be found in the young. By middle-age, if they haven't found something that makes money for them they are miserable. I mean nasty miserable. I mean self-pitying miserable. And these are people who had visions of some kind. Which the Neo-NEETS don't have. I can see their future already. Down and outs cages money on the street.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

By middle-age, if they haven't found something that makes money for them they are miserable.

Tragic if you really believe that's the only way to be happy....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'd like to believe that one can live on one's good looks and charm. Unfortunately, you need cash to stay alive. Either you marry into money or get it yourself. Look at this article: It's about how these Neo-Neets get their money: "Living on other people’s money." If only these people were artists then they would have some redeemable purpose in life. At least they would have something to give to society. (I happen to know the "starving artist" scene as I was a part of it in my youth). As it is, these so-called Neo-Neets are like university students who sleep in class or text or talk or plagiarize or all of the above and then whine to the administrators when they don't pass.

But that aside, the Neo-Neets are more sinned against than sinning. Japan's great depression, which began in 1989 and ended just recently (more or less) has created generational despair. Also these young kids have ever heard have been stories of failure and desperation. Somehow you cannot completely blame them.

Paul Goodman wrote a book called "Growing Up Absurd" around 1960. This was about alienated youth in a time of prosperity. The Neo-Neets are growing up absurd in a time slow economic recovery overshadowed the memory of the burst bubble.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Basically parasites, but I have some sympathy with jeancolmar's view above.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tragic if you really believe that's the only way to be happy..

Completely agree, there are a lot of conservative folks here, financial and social stability are no guarantee for happiness.

Sure it's the safe way, but also the best way to get old fast.

Not everybody needs a house and a car, holidays abroad, a dependant wife or large wad of bucks in the bank.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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