In Japan, 29.8 percent of 15-year-olds agreed with the statement “I feel lonely,” placing Japan at the top of the list of 24 countries. Next highest was Iceland at 10.3 percent. The Netherlands had the lowest figure, at 2.9 percent.

Furthermore, the percentage of respondents who agreed with the statement “I feel awkward,” reached 18.1 percent in Japan, again placing the country at the top of the list. The corresponding figure in the Netherlands was 6.9 percent. In the 40 categories overall, the Netherlands came out in top position in terms of children’s happiness.

The Netherlands emphasizes individual education that features both independent and joint learning. In elementary school classrooms, it is reportedly common to see students divided into groups of about five, each working through different topics. There is no single textbook for everyone; the children are given appropriate teaching materials matching their proficiency.

“Instead of reform that places a disproportionate emphasis on academic ability, I want them to aim for the comprehensive development of students as humans,” she said in her lecture. “I don’t think that Dutch education is the best, but I think the results of the survey on children’s happiness at least show the importance of lending an ear to each and every child.”

Source: Addressing the loneliness of children in materially affluent Japan (Mainichi)

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8 thoughts on “Children Loneliness in Japan

  1. I think the larger issue is the plateau upon which Japanese society places relationships. Watching television here would make one believe that everyone is in a relationship. This isn’t very strange compared to other countries, but the idea of confessions seems to be the damaging factor. I know that there are some students in my schools who feel outcast, but almost every students has friends. The Netherlands seems to be far, far more open about relationships than Japan and that may contribute more to this issue than education. That said, education reform does need to happen – so perhaps some good will come of it. It is important that Japan customize education for students much more than now, but I highly doubt that would make students feel any less lonely. It may make them feel less awkward though…

    Also, 15 years old is when students are preparing for their high school entrance exams or have just entered high school. In Japan, students leave just about all of their friends when they graduate from Jr High School. They all go off to different high schools and are forced to make entirely new friends. That is likely a very large contributing factor in their loneliness.

    1. Thank you for mentioning this.

      I didn’t quite get what you were saying about “idea of confessions”. Could you elaborate please?

      It seems that students are under pressure at 15.

  2. Yes, at 15 they are either franticly studying for high school entrance exams or just starting a new school with few/no friends.

    In Japan, as I am sure you have seen in anime, confessions are a big deal. One does not simply ask a member of the opposite sex to a movie and have it be implied as a date upon which a relationship can be built. If one wants to be in a relationship, they generally have to flat out tell the person that they like about their feelings and if that person accepts they will date. It adds a lot of pressure to an already difficult issue for many people.

    1. I see. One of the problems I see with this is that it seems the society has a strong influence on the way certain procedures should be conducted. Moreover, TV adds more influence how things should go. Many of these influences are negative and promote unrealistic and maladaptive behaviors. One of examples is the belief that after 25 you pretty much has no chance. The Akiba stabber shared this view…

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