Mr A, a 59-year-old employee at a trading firm, resides in Saitama Prefecture. He's the not-so-proud father of three sons, the eldest in his 30s and two others in their 20s. His three progeny neither hold jobs, nor do they have romantic interests. While their mom goes out each day to work at a hospital office, the three say home and pursue non-remunerative activities.
"My No. 2 son did find work delivering newspapers," he shrugs to Nikkan Gendai (May 16). "But he quit after one month."
Up to now, such slackers were identified as NEETs (an acronym meaning not in education, employment or training). But now, according to professor of labor economics Yuji Genda at the University of Tokyo, a new more specific term has been coined for them: SNEP (pronounced "suneppu") -- which is an acronym for solitary, non-employed person -- but which also has roots in the Japanese expression "oya no sune wo kajiru" (to gnaw on a parent's shins, i.e., to be dependent). The new term has caught on to describe unemployed people between the ages of 20 through 59 who are not in education; are single; and who have few relationships outside of their own family members.
A survey undertaken by Prof Genda in 2011 found that out of an estimated total of 2.56 million people in the country who are single, unemployed and who belong to the aforementioned age group, the SNEPs account for 1.62 million, or about 60%.
What sets the SNEPs apart from the NEETs is that they seldom attempt to seek employment, being content to lounge around the home.
"Between my job and my wife's income from part-time work, we have a take-home pay of about 400,000 yen per month," Mr A tells Nikkan Gendai. "As long as we keep working I guess that's alright, but in another six years, we'll be living on our pensions. After we die, I wonder how my sons will be able to live.
"Have I discussed the future with them? No, not at all," he sighs.
All three of Mr A's sons did reasonably well at their studies and appeared to be destined for "normal" careers as regular salarymen. But their physical conditions declined, and they increasingly found it difficult to get along with co-workers. Eventually they quit their jobs and refrained from seeking new work.
"I'll discuss things with them, asking 'Isn't there something you'd like to do?' but my sons don't have many personal contacts that could help them find work, and after they lost their jobs and even those contacts dried up, so all I can do now is just commiserate with them," says A.
So what's the solution for such indolent offspring?
"You shouldn't pamper a child who is physically healthy but unwilling to work," advises Kenichi Tokura, a consultant to a schizophrenia rehabilitation center in Naha, Okinawa. "For example, while it's not convenient, you might rent him an apartment near your house and let him live there by himself. Don't do anything to assist him. If he's hungry, then he can walk back home for a meal. Just making him do things like that is a start."
Some children turn violent toward their parents when ordered to "leave home" or "stand on your own two feet." In such cases, says Tokura, parents should not hesitate to report them to the police.
"You shouldn't be concerned with your public image," he advises. "When you look at cases in which children have turned violent toward parents, you'll see that pampering by parents was involved at some point. That's reason enough why parents have got to draw the line and put a stop to it."
When children grow up, they have to be booted out, concludes Nikkan Gendai. It's for their own good -- and the parents' good as well.© Japan Today