Hiromi Tanaka, 54, plays the piano during an interview with Reuters at her house where she lives with her widowed mother in Tokyo. Photo: Issei Kato/Reuters
national

Life's illusions catching up with Japan's middle-aged 'parasite singles'

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by linda sieg and ami miyazaki

Their youth long gone, members of Japan's generation of "parasite singles" face a precarious future, wondering how to survive once the parents many depended on for years pass away.

Some 4.5 million Japanese aged between 35 and 54 were living with their parents in 2016, according to a researcher at the Statistical Research and Training Institute on a demographic phenomena that emerged two decades ago, when youthful singles made headlines for mooching off parents to lead carefree lives.

Now, without pensions or savings of their own, these middle-aged stay-at-homes threaten to place an extra burden on a social welfare system that is already creaking under pressure from Japan's aging population and shrinking workforce.

Hiromi Tanaka once sang backup for pop groups, and epitomised the optimism of youth.

"I got used to living in an unstable situation and figured somehow it would work out," Tanaka told Reuters as she sat at the piano in a small parlour of an old house connected to her elderly mother's next door.

Now aged 54, Tanaka relies on income from giving private singing lessons to a dwindling number of students, and her mother's pension to make ends meet. She has no pension plan of her own, and has used up most of her savings.

"My father died last year so pension income was halved,” she said. "If things go on like this, my mother and I will fall together."

Tanaka is one of the growing ranks of "life-time singles," whose numbers hit a record in 2015, according to data released this month that showed that among 50-year-olds, one-in-four men and one-in-seven women were unmarried.

"During the 'bubble economy' until the mid-1990s, the 20-somethings were happily amusing themselves. They thought by the time they were in their 30s, they'd be married," said Masahiro Yamada, a Chuo University sociologist who coined the term "parasite singles" in 1997.

"But one-third never married and are now around age 50," Yamada told Reuters in an interview.

FRAGILE FUTURE

The trend is not only a factor behind Japan's low birth rate and shrinking population. It also puts an extra damper on consumption since new household formation is a key driver of private spending.

And since about 20 percent of the middle-aged stay-at-home singles rely on parents for support, they also threaten to weigh on social safety nets."Once they use up inherited assets and savings, when nothing is left, they will go on the dole," Yamada said.

The rise in those shunning marriage, experts say, is due not only to more diverse life-styles but to an increase in low-paying, unstable jobs. Part-timers, temps or contract workers now account for nearly 40 percent of the workforce compared to about 20 percent in the 1980s.

Although recent tightness in Japan's labour market has meant a slight fall in the number of singles living off parents, the overall trend probably won't change, said Katsuhiko Fujimori, an economist at Mizuho Information and Research Institute.

"That's because of the increase in irregular workers and the fact that more and more people cannot marry for economic reasons, even if they want to," he said.

Some middle-aged singles living with parents once had steady jobs but slipped off the career track due to illness or corporate restructuring as companies cut costs to compete.

"Once you fall off the regular employment ladder, it's tough," said Hirotoshi Moriyama, a member of a non-profit organisation that tries to help middle-aged people find jobs.

karube.jpg
Akihiro Karube, 53, who lives with his widowed 84-year-old dad, speaks during an interview at his public housing in Hino, Tokyo. Photo: Toru Hanai/Reuters

LEFT BEHIND

Akihiro Karube, 53, worked in the advertising business after graduation and by his 30s was earning a hefty salary. He moved back with his parents after a short-lived marriage but paid his own rent until, aged 43, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and had to quit.

Efforts to find work as a qualified home helper for the elderly have failed and he says he now relies on his father's pension and a disability pension of his own.

"I just wish I had a stable income, that's the main thing," said Karube, who lives with his widowed 84-year-old dad in public housing in a Tokyo suburb.

The future looks especially bleak for an extreme sub-set of people who not only live at home with their parents but also seldom venture out, living out their days in hermit-like seclusion. Known in Japan as "hikikomori", and once stereotyped as mostly young men, these stay-at-homes are also ageing.

Fuminobu Ohashi was one himself, but now he works with a support group that last year began holding workshops for parents worried about their offsprings' future.

"The problem is what they will do after their parents pass away," Ohashi said. "It is a quietly ticking time-bomb."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

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50 Comments
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why leave the nest when you can mooch off mom and dad for ever!!!!! :-/

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

The aussie translator strikes again!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Frankly, I don't like the term "parasite". I think it is too demeaning, because each situation is different and we need to be aware of that. It is not like these people are doing anything criminal. Of course, I don't agree with their lifestyle choice and wish that they would live outside of their parent's houses but in a lot of cases it does work out. They take care of their parents when they become too old to. I know quite a few married business men who are divided between work during the week and going and spending endless hours on the weekends at retirement homes or at their own parent's homes taking care of them parents, much to the detriment of their relationship with their own families, so there are some good points to it.

@worldfriendship - gogogo's picture is just fine. You can't really see anything at all and there is nothing offensive about it. It is actually in good taste. Why even mention it? So irritating when people have to go minding each other's business and have to try to get things taken away.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

@Cupid Stunt -

The tap was turned off,
Now, THAT I have heard before. I wonder if JT will do a story about that. I spit my coffee and had to clean the table when I read that. Thanks for the laugh at 7:50 in the morning.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Cupid stunt, thanks for sharing.

I've seen this happening my whole life. Guys come here, feeling like they are all the rage cause finally someone listens when they speak. They marry the first girl they see (even though they dont speak the same language). After they get married they realize theres no relationship. Cracks me up everytime.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

The Akihiro dude, at least he tried but got sick so I would think that some safety net of disability would be there for him. Also, with the increasing aging population there would be a market for home health care, provided those who are being seen don't treat the workers like dirt as often times is the case.

For Hiromi, she played herself all wrong and this is the end result. She lived the highlife and probably had a great time, but alas time has a way of catching up.

Another aspect to this story should be the ones who had to take care of an parent or relative and didn't have the time to have a life of their own. I have seen that a few times where a child is fully devoted and they never took the time for themselves to form any relationship and soon wind up alone. There must be a way for these people to find each other for lonley singles, but if they do, what will they use to pay for the dates?

15 ( +15 / -0 )

This survey/research smacks of a underlining social political agenda. People life choices are not driven to fall back on living with Mum and Dad. There are emotional factors at play. There is no distinction presented here between managed and planned independence, the rather nasty and offensive sneering insinuation behind the term, middle-aged 'parasite singles', home carers, and a wealth of single though no fault of their own shy away for the close contact of relationships. The finger point focus is vile, and directed at 'parasite singles'

I feel very sad and sympathise totally with Akihiro Karube, 53, his disability has left him a broken man.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

"That's because of the increase in irregular workers and the fact that more and more people cannot marry for economic reasons, even if they want to," he said.

Only in Japan does this mean they "cannot" marry. B/C of the obscene costs of weddings and the ridiculous expectations on the part of many young couples. The old "I won't marry someone making less than 5 million yen/year" etc. Weddings are unnecessary and life is cheaper with a partner, married or otherwise.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The bubble generation was brainwashed to think they should study study study and get into a good company, then the reality washed over that company jobs no longer existed. In some way I feel sorry for them. I had to work from elementary school mowing lawns, and whatnot. Unless I was really sick I can't imagine not paying my own way. The woman particularly says "my mother and I will fall together" which is sickening as the mother should be entitled to use her own pension with some security and not share it with a good for nothing who is still able to work...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Guys come here, feeling like they are all the rage cause finally someone listens when they speak. They marry the first girl they see (even though they dont speak the same language). After they get married they realize theres no relationship. Cracks me up everytime. firstly while stereotype all gaijin like this, what does it say about the J girls they marry!? secondly the realization that "there is no relationship" I see this with Japanese couples far more, and they speak the same language. LOL

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I've seen this happening my whole life. Guys come here, feeling like they are all the rage cause finally someone listens when they speak. They marry the first girl they see (even though they dont speak the same language). After they get married they realize theres no relationship.

This isn't really a Japanese thing, it's just seems that way because you notice it more due to the inter-cultural marriage. People marry the wrong person all the time in the west as well simply because the person shows an interest.

In my own experience, I can only think of two Japanese-western couples that has gotten divorced, and I know many, many more that have been going well over a decade.

Does anyone have any links to actual divorce rates among international marriages in Japan?

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Guys come here, feeling like they are all the rage cause finally someone listens when they speak. They marry the first girl they see (even though they dont speak the same language). After they get married they realize theres no relationship. Cracks me up everytime. I don't know about that. I came here in the ARMY, so it was kind of a no choice. I met a very nice girl. . . I will leave it at that. However, I really hate that stereotype though. It is just not true. There are those cases, but they are not as common as believed. Maybe JT should do a story on that as well. I think for the most part many guys who come here, fall in love and get married and the same would happen if they were back in their own countries.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Guys come here, feeling like they are all the rage cause finally someone listens when they speak. They marry the first girl they see (even though they dont speak the same language). After they get married they realize theres no relationship. Cracks me up everytime.

The quotes dont seem to be working right, or is it just me? LOLI don't know about that. I came here in the ARMY, so it was kind of a no choice. I met a very nice girl. . . I will leave it at that. However, I really hate that stereotype though. It is just not true. There are those cases, but they are not as common as believed. Maybe JT should do a story on that as well. I think for the most part many guys who come here, fall in love and get married and the same would happen if they were back in their own countries.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Also, I might ad, it does seem to be a common thing in Japan for couples to have children, and then go their separate ways in the marriage. The sex life and romance seems to be non-existent after the desired number of children are produced. I know many couples that sleep in completely separate bedrooms, something of which would be considered grounds for divorce in the USA, have no romance in their marriage anymore and live platonic lifestyles with their marital partners, and it really makes me wonder why.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Surprisingly badly written article by Thomson Reuters - makes me wonder if big chunks haven't been edited out.

It starts with a huge stat - "4.5 million Japanese aged between 35 and 54 were living with their parents in 2016" and then continues on "Now, without pensions or savings of their own, these middle-aged stay-at-homes threaten to place an extra burden ..."

Does that original stat include both people who work and those who don't? Or are they asking us to believe that everyone who lives with parents is a "parasite"? That original stat doesn't even specify that the 4.5 million living with parents are single.

Throughout, the article conflates not marrying with not working. Not every singleton is a parasite.

And people who don't work, don't qualify for "dole" after their parents die. "dole" is employment insurance.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I know many couples that sleep in completely separate bedrooms, something of which would be considered grounds for divorce in the USA

It's actually pretty common in USA (and Canada):

Nearly one in four couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds, according to a 2015 survey by the National Sleep Foundation. A 2013 study from Toronto's Ryerson University puts that number at 30-40 percent.

Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/should-i-sleep-in-a-separate-bed_us_572278e5e4b01a5ebde51c14

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I always imagined "parasite singles" to be people working as seishain on decent money but who don't leave the nest so they could be fed, have their clothes washed, and spend their entire salary on themselves on branded goods, expensive overseas holidays taken during calendar holidays, flash cars, etc. etc. They are people with the means to get married and raise a family, but who choose not to for reasons that others perceive to be "self-centeredness". I doubt anyone in irregular work like a p/t backing singer could really afford to live alone and pay rent and bills. You cannot assume such person is a parasite entirely by choice. My imagined parasite single will have shakai hoken and should have savings, so they wouldn't have the pension or money worries mentioned in the article.

I always loved living in Japan, but since I've had kids, I've been finding the drudge of PTA, our neighbourhood association, and my kids' sports clubs really annoying. Once you get sucked into Japanese society proper, you see how it works. Many Japanese people leave home to get married, and get married to have kids, and if they know (better than I did) what level of drudge and obligation the Japanese model of child-raising involves, I can fully understand people not going all out to find a marriage partner and instead just taking solace in their hobbies.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

@strangerland - Thanks. I have heard that before. But I do think that number is greatly larger here.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I am not sure why they even compare the first and second cases, the girl is a freeter basically ,and instead of complaining how about finding a low pay baito and work to help out while there is still a pension., she is nothing to cry about honestly. Second case, is a disability and harsh one. I truly feel for him and hopefully gov. can somehow assist him .

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I don,t see it a burden. I assume most do the right thing and work. I notice that they did not provide any real number of these people who don,t work. Only the people age group that live with their Parents. So how many of those who don,t work ? I feel the government are looking for excuses to not help the real poor. If the system is "cracking" simply tax the elite top ten % and call it, "It is about time I pay the proper Tax" Tax.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Why on earth is Karube being called a parasite? The man has parkinson's. Tanaka on the other hand IS a parasite. I can't help but wonder who is more of a burden with parasites. Men or women? I think women because many were raised to thin all they had to do was get married to be secure for the rest of their life. Men here aren't raised to believe marriage is finacial security.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

As taj said the article is a MESS, title is parasite singles(see Kohakuebisu's post for proper definition of said parasites) but then goes off topic all over the place LOL!

That said their number are/will cause ANOTHER huge stress on social systems in Japan.

Seems Japan just cant win, but its not like this topic & many others havnet been in plain sight for decades now

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What is conveniently left out is mention of how the job market shuns the over fifty making it difficult for them to find a decent paying job. The society as a whole is very harsh to the fifty somethings.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

why leave the nest when you can mooch off mom and dad for ever!!!!! :-/

Yes, that's my fear as a foreigner working in Japan. I might, at some point in the future, be paying through taxes, maintenance for 'older folks' that are actually younger than me.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

drlucifer there are tons of paying jobs ( adequately paid or low grade job ) for over 50th, it is always about the will to work . Sitting at home and complaining about not having students after daddy passed away is just morally disgusting in any working age, more so when you are 50.

And yes, she is a parasite because once mom is gone and no pension, she will be a burden on people that work and pay taxes.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Nothing wrong with sleeping in separate bedrooms especially when working hours are different. It does not have to affect sex life at all.

When eventually the parent with a pension dies, does the son/daughter have to sell the house completely before being to go on welfare? Anyone know?

The lady playing the piano can get a job just like the other 40% that cannot get so called fulltime real jobs.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

What is conveniently left out is mention of how the job market shuns the over fifty making it difficult for them to find a decent paying job. The society as a whole is very harsh to the fifty somethings.

Um, it doesn't seem like princess Tanaka ever looked into getting a FT "real" job. Blaming the job market for her current issue is a joke. People like Karube and others who had FT work but were either downsized or had to leave due to illness should never be called parasites.

Japan needs to rethink it's health care and pension system payment plans. The idea that people can "opt out" is one reason why it is in the situation it is - and why so many lazy, entitled parasites will be needing welfare payments to survive in the future. Many EVERYONE pay. Be it the student working PT, the "hobby job" mommy, the contract worker and the rich fat cats. EVERYONE needs to pay in. Take a look at the Canadian system and then look at Japan's. Insanity to have people go to city hall to sign up to pay for something that everyone is supposed to be paying into. Japan is going to be a huge mess in 20-30 years when all these parents have died and their 60 year old "children" have no means to support themselves and the system is already a mess due to the low birth rate.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

wtfjapan, sandiegoluv, strangerland

Sorry I didnt mean to generalize all people. This is just something I figured I'd seen so many times, its hard to ignore. Like literally over 10 times I am in bars or my home and talking to a friend who wants advice or an ear. He tells me she was awesome when dating then they got married, and she doesnt let him have any cash or a credit card, no sex or shared bed after a kid, and he has no say in the family, or no say compared to her, her mom and her dad.

I suppose after I hear about these exact issues, the sex, the money, and the cutoff from family decisions, I wonder whats going on.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Mr Karube isn't anything but a person who got dealt some bad cards. He is not a "parasite". Those who could fit into the box so labeled, well, they better really wake up and sort out a road ahead before they end up homeless or worse. These people's parent shave a few questions to answer as well. Where the thing that you should give your loved ones: A future.

@Those bitter souls: It's an urban myth about Japanese and Western couples, one spread by those who have failed at keeping their marriage/relationship together. Of course some fail, as found in all demographics but I and those around me, married, children and together.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@ - thepersoniamnow

My point was the generalization that the guys come here are kind of losers who could not make it with women in back in their own countries but did well here.

But I greatly agree with your last post.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Well, the 2nd guy had a normal life until he had a divorce and then got Parkinson's. I would hardly call him a parasite for having the nerve to be disabled..

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@Msdelicious - If it is because of work, I can understand, but in reality most of the time with Japanese it is a lifestyle choice. I am not here to judge. I am just saying.

@strangerland - I wonder how many of those couples in the USA and Canada are about to or are getting a divorce. There has to be a large number. It is just not as acceptable back in North America as here.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@MsDelicious - Yes, you do have to sell the house before you can collect any welfare at all.

`ListenTheTruth

@Those bitter souls: It's an urban myth about Japanese and Western couples, one spread by those who have failed at keeping their marriage/relationship together. Of course some fail, as found in all demographics but I and those around me, married, children and together.

Hmmmm. Well, I am not a bitter soul and I doubt that most people on here are. People are talking from their own experiences. I think calling those people "Bitter Souls" is just wrong and rude.

I personally know many couples that have that very problem here in Japan. It is not an urban myth at all. A lot of couples have less intimacy after having children here. As for Japanese and Western couples failing to keep their marriage/relationships together, there are quite a few of those, not a myth at all and it is too be expected. It is not one cultural or country's fault. Cultural differences and logistics play a huge role in Japanese and western couples calling it quits at a much higher rate than Japanese only couples. Just because of those two things, you have to expect that there are going to be huge problems, and there are.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Sorry I didnt mean to generalize all people. This is just something I figured I'd seen so many times, its hard to ignore. Like literally over 10 times I am in bars or my home and talking to a friend who wants advice or an ear. He tells me she was awesome when dating then they got married, and she doesnt let him have any cash or a credit card, no sex or shared bed after a kid, and he has no say in the family, or no say compared to her, her mom and her dad.

What you're saying here is a little different than what you said in your original post. The issues you bring up here are pretty specific to Japan, and yeah, it happens a fair bit it seems.

But your original post just mentioned getting married to a girl that pays them attention, and finding out afterwards that the person wasn't right. That happens everywhere.

I wonder how many of those couples in the USA and Canada are about to or are getting a divorce. There has to be a large number. It is just not as acceptable back in North America as here.

I don't know about that - I originally thought it was a Japanese thing as well, but then I talked to a number of friends back home who sleep separately because of different sleeping habits, and for a couple of those, they told me this ten years ago and are still married.

I sleep in a separate futon from my wife, but not a separate room. I sleep later, and she steals the blankets, so we found it was easier just to have separate futons.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Strangerland - Yeah, the wives DO steal the blankets a lot, don't they? Just kidding. I think I steal them more than she does. My daughter is worse though. She wraps them around her legs like a pro-wrestler does an opponents head.

Hmmmmm, interesting point about sleeping in separately back there. The only couples I ever heard about doing that were on their way to divorce court. It seemed like the final straw for most. Did age have anything to do with it the acceptance of those sleeping arrangements? I would assume that older couples back home would feel better about that then younger or middle aged. Were the men snorers who shock the walls? Of course having different work times can play a huge role in that. Anyway, thanks for telling me that.

@thepersoniamnow - He tells me she was awesome when dating then they got married, and she doesnt let him have any cash or a credit card, no sex or shared bed after a kid, and he has no say in the family, or no say compared to her, her mom and her dad.

Something that I have been told more times than I care to remember.

@Listentothetruth - As for Akihiro Karube. I gotta agree with you there. But I will take it one step further. He should not even be in this story. He is not a parasite who refuses to get a job. Um, he was diagnosed with Parkison's.

In fact, I really would not call either one of them parasites. Parasites should refer to those who refuse to work.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

strangerland

Yeah I am not the clearest writer for sure. I havent thought about how Japan specific it may be but obviously yes, me equating the general foreigner fresh off the boat and hooks up right away wasn't a good example and was condescending sounding! as that happens all over. But the turn of events and the circumstances seem to happen exactly the same and to so many people, that I do think theres something to it. A lot of these guys are also now divorced, pay alimony, and have a lot of bitterness towards what they feel was a loaded situation that they got wronged in.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Man it is tough writing anything on this website now. Capslock on their own and bugs all over.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This article is misusing the expression "parasite singles", I guess because its still a trendy word. fwiw, one of the foreign journos, I think it was Justin at the Guardian, interviewed the lady who came up with the "herbivore men" expression and she said that the expression had been distorted way beyond the original meaning she came up with based on her research.

As for the people in the story, Japan doesn't do diversity, so if you do not fit into the "wife husband 1.x kids" family model, you'll be exposed to whatever cracks there are in the system. Any employment culture where jobs are advertised as "under 35" is also fundamentally flawed. Someone who leaves college and tries different things for 10 years should not be on the scrapheap.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

She: I wont marry anyone who earn less than 5 million / year, and i wont work because the guy is going to be my gold pot. Has some study, but, not a single experience with work.

He: I won't work my butt off just to marry a girl who'll use my money and give me 30.000 as allowance. Lives a life of mediocrity.

Them: I will bet everything on my career! Everything will be better when i make tons of cash.

Then: 20-40 years later on the same company working 80-100 hours a week, still, not promoted to the status you want to achieve in order to marry.

Or: You overwork yourself to almost death, and then, you get sick and fired when you miss a couple days of work.

So many other cases out there, so many harsh truths, yet, nothing "new" as "news".

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Unfair nickname that. Culturally the Japanese tend to stick close to home or visit daily anyway; dropping off the kids to grandma, eating supper all together,etc. I have to respond though to what i see as unfair-yet i admit amusing- comments about losers or failing relationships. Is this view based on some kind of theory that good-looking, charming individuals prosper in society, and sub-standard people have to emigrate to other sub par people? So stupid! The Japanese cannot see that we are losers. They do not perceive or sense from a distance. It is just that super gorgeous girls will never ever need to venture a glance at a white guy (sorry) because she has been busy fighting off guys her whole life. They get gawked at all day long from across the street and have simply become immune. They are not ignoring you (unless they are suddenly taking up their cellphone to the ear, which means you frighten her...) They have real lives, and if by some miracle she were to sit down and chat with YOU (enter here desperately lonely to tears English native westerner...i mean WASP of course), she might just grow to like you ( a lot of them, deep down inside, don't feel they are actually the bombshell that they are! That funny looking guy you see walking is just a reflection of your mind ( 'do i really look THAT silly'?) You don't know him.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Parasit's a bit rough and im sure theres a few out there . This sort of thing seems to be going on all over the western world also and could be the result of economic times with less stable employment The word is changing. Believe me im not sticking up for people on the bludge but every ones story different. Im sure there are many oldies out there glad to have their older kids around for support instead of relying on gov assistance.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why does being married make or more or less acceptable to live with your parents. With so many older people needing care society should be pleased they have someone at home to look after them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Was growing older a surprise? Did you think the gravy train would run forever? You have only yourselves to blame, but I'll have to help pay for your laziness.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Young people not leaving home is increasingly common in the West, but it's being driven by super expensive real estate and zero-hour contracts in the Anglo countries and massive youth unemployment in Southern Europe.

In Japan, true parasite singles are adults who can afford to leave home, but don't, don't pay any board or bills, possibly don't even pay for their own car or keitai, and don't help with housework. It's like having a big kid in your house who costs money and doesn't lift a finger. I don't know how many real ones exist, but some do for certain. People who help with bills, housework, looking after elderly, etc. are not viewed as parasites.

Given the staid gender relations and family model in Japan, I have every sympathy for people not getting married. However, living at home as wage earner and not contributing, even in kind, is infantile.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another important factor to think about is that the older parents often "enable" their parasite kids. In a lot of cases, usually the mother doesn't WANT the child/children to leave home after they graduate from school and get a job.

If the kids leave, then the couple will be left alone with just each other for company. Given that in many cases, marriages in Japan are based around the kids and not the romantic couples relationship, this is terrifying for a lot of folks. It's better to keep the kids at home where they can still be taken care of. Plus, it gives stay at home moms a reason for living. They can't imagine simply enjoying life with their husbands, having time together, being a couple and so on.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's not "life's illusions" that are catching up with these people, but harsh reality. What are they going to do when their parents die and the money runs out? A life in a cardboard box by the river beckons.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My 42-y/o Japanese brother-in-law lives at home. He is the oldest son so it could be interpreted as cultural in that he's supposed to be taking care of the aging parents. However, when my 67-y/o mother-in-law is outside shoveling snow while he's cozy in his room playing video games, that theory blows apart. If you wanna be 42 and live at home, that's fine I guess, but you better do every single chore around the house you can get your hands on.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not only is criticizing Karube weird, but I'm not sure what the "parasites" being single has to do with anything. I mean, it's not like getting married would somehow magically fix their economic difficulties, other than making rent slightly more affordable.

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It a fact that the Japan single pension is below the povety line for a single to support themselves in rented Tokyo suburb aparto . This example is very missing leading. Would the mother by herself be able to support. NO. The mother is able to stay in the aparto because of the extra income the daughter bring in. How is that a PARASITE. These two women Journo must of have lived privilege life, if they can not see the fact under their nose. The daughter and Mother should never been use as a example. Their arterial would have more bearing and truth if they left their example out. It is very good article of poor Journalism.

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I am old school, instead of parasites these persons were and are still called bums. I have relatives in Japan, Okinawa and the United States and it seems to be more of a trend with excessive use of computers , cell phones , other games and the mores common use of recreational drugs. Of course in Japan and Okinawa most workers are made to retire at 55 years of age to reduce retirement benefits, however with a partial retirement and a part time job the money is usually enough. Myself age 70 I worked for a military retirement and as soon as I could I looked for another job. Of course most companies do not wist new hires in mid to late forties, but I made a go of it. I visit Okinawa and normally spend thousands in presents/food to help out the brother/sister-in-laws. This something that will be hard to change esp in Okinawa whereas the family unity is everything and the kids/adults will never get kicked out. Also financially once all the WWII widows die ,the family will have that 25,000 a month disappear.

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