What do Japanese kids want to be when they grow up? Businesspeople

By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

Staffing services company Adecco recently carried out a survey of children in seven Asian territories, asking them what sort of job they hope to have in the future. Much as you’d expect in any country, some of the respondents were kids who’re dreaming of becoming professional athletes or artists, but the results for Japan showed the nation’s kids to have a surprisingly pragmatic streak.

In Japan, Adecco polled 500 boys and 500 girls between the ages of 6 and 15. The top responses for the boys were:

9 (tie). Architect/contractor (2.8 percent) 9 (tie). Paramedic/firefighter (2.8 percent) 9 (tie). Engineer/programmer (2.8 percent) 7 (tie). Driver (bus, taxi, train, etc.) (4.2 percent) 7 (tie). Police officer/detective (4.2 percent)

  1. Scholar/researcher (3.4 percent) 4 (tie). Doctor (6.2 percent) 4 (tie). Professional baseball player (6.2 percent)
  2. Civil servant (6.6 percent)
  3. Professional soccer player (10 percent)
  4. Businessperson (10.2 percent)

Not only did businessperson ("kaishain" dethrone soccer player, which was last year’s boys’ champion, the buttoned-down aspiration also had a strong showing in the responses from girls, which were:

  1. Singer (2.4 percent)
  2. Manga creator (2.6 percent)
  3. Music/art instructor (2.8 percent)
  4. Fashion designer (3 percent)
  5. Nurse (4.6 percent)
  6. Civil servant (4.8 percent)
  7. Doctor (5.6 percent)
  8. Businessperson (5.8 percent)
  9. Educator (preschool-university) (6.4 percent)
  10. Confectioner (11 percent)

While confectioner was the top choice for the second year in a row, businessperson still made the top three. And when all of the votes from both boys and girls were put together, businessperson was the top overall choice.

Before you’re tempted to chalk the results up as being indicative of Asian culture in general, note that out of the seven Asian areas in which the survey was carried out (with sample sizes ranging from 150 to 1,500 respondents aged 7 to 14), only in Japan was businessperson one of the three most common results.

In Japan, some online commenters lamented the down-to-earth attitude being displayed by the country’s children. “Isn’t childhood a time to dream big?” wondered detractors, while others pointed out that “businessperson” is a vague term that doesn’t really indicate any specific profession.

In the defense of the many Japanese kids who said they aspire to become businesspeople, it’s fairly common for Japanese companies to transfer employees from one functional division to another in order to give them a broader perspective on the organization’s operations, and thus many won’t spend their entire career in a single department such as marketing or human resources. It’s also common for young children to imagine themselves working in a field they have some familiarity with. That may take the form of professions kids come into direct contact with, such as doctors or teachers, but many will also envision themselves doing the same sort of work their parents do, and in largely white-collar Japan, there’s a good chance Mom and Dad are "kaishain."

More than anything else, though, the strong showing by “businessperson” in the results for Japan is a reflection of the country’s societal and cultural values. Japanese culture stresses the importance of not causing problems for others, which for adults includes being monetarily self-sufficient. Japanese economic ambitions run more towards stability than luxurious wealth, and the former isn’t so far-fetched for white-collar workers. That may not be the most exciting goal, it has some definite advantages in helping to avoid the problems with personal debt that have plagued many other nations in recent years.

So while one could argue that Japan’s top choice in the survey is kind of disappointing coming from kids, it’s not such a bad pick for when they grow up an actually join the workforce.

Sources: Adecco via Naver Matome, My Navi News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Poll asks for the top 10 times Japanese men are disappointed in their adult daughters -- Hungry for love – 10 dishes Japanese men want their girlfriends to cook for them -- The fantastic feast of festival food in Japan

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I think a more accurate translation of "kaishain" would be "full time salaried employee." The term "business person" has the connotation of "entrepreneur." The "kaishain" and "komuin" (civil servant) results of the survey show that the Japanese males from an early age desire white collar middle class security. Anyone who aims to be an entrepreneur is a significantly different type of person who is just as likely to be wearing a black T-shirt and worn jeans.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The business world is now society's greatest enemy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Actually no surprises.

Just think though about my past seminar students, less than 20% could become what they wanted first time around. For instance teacher - so far just two out of 18 who got teacher's licences became teachers, and one of those opted for a juku chain having decided that was where real education occurs. The rest opted out on completion of practical teaching experience in schools.

This year though, two students who are 'not great', have had obvious learning problems long term, have struggled and have found jobs as special needs teachers back at home. I am proud of them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What? #1 for girls is a confectioner? You mean like a pastry chef? Why are the girls selling themselves short?

I hope they ditch those self-esteem issues. Takako Doi would be proud.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What? #1 for girls is a confectioner? You mean like a pastry chef? Why are the girls selling themselves short? I hope they ditch those self-esteem issues.

Why does wanting to make confectionery suggest that they are selling themselves short or have self esteem issues?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Nice dreams for future go-bots

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why does wanting to make confectionery suggest that they are selling themselves short

If they're going to open a few confectionery / pastry shops, then I see your point. But, I just don't see a high demand for confectioners justifying so many of them to pursue that avenue.

Japan needs more professional women in the corporate world, court rooms (lawyers / judges), hospitals (doctors / surgeons) etc. Not in the "kitchen" as if it were still 100 years ago.

or have self esteem issues?

Are you serious? How many western women do you know and how many japanese women do you know? There is an inferiority complex and a subservient attitude among japanese women. This is why they're more reserved and not as outgoing compared to their western female counterparts.

Especially after they have a kid!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

And what's wrong with that?

0 ( +0 / -0 )


This means that they totally dig what their fathers do like commuting for 4 hours a day, coming home really late and thus not bothering the kids about anything, taking those nice family vacations together for some bonding while in massive traffic jams with the whole country off at the same time.

Gotta respect a kid wanting to emulate his /her dad.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Don't ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, ask them what problems they want to solve.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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