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  5. Youth Policy and Participation in Japan from the Perspective of Sweden’s Experience: Current Status and Issues

2010 Vol.3
Youth Policy and Participation in Japan from the Perspective of Sweden’s Experience: Current Status and Issues

2010/07/01

With the current declining population, Japan will see its population aging at a pace that no other country has experienced. In such a circumstance, Japan’s traditional socioeconomic system, which has been based on the assumption that population will increase and the economy grow, is beginning to crack. For example, the environment surrounding the youth has become increasingly severe, with an accumulation of fiscal deficits which can burden the next generation, intergenerational gaps in the provision of and contribution to social security, and employment and working conditions that are particularly difficult for young workers.
At the same time, the political influence of the young has weakened. This article provides an overview of the social, economic, and political issues surrounding Japan’s youth, explains the trend in the EU’s youth policies, and then examines the case of Sweden which adopts a progressive approach to youth participation. Sweden’s youth participation policy can be mainly characterized as follows: (1) there is a robust system promoting youth policies; (2) mechanisms for people to experience democracy are set up in various aspects of society; (3) society has a system to reflect young people’s voice; and (4) the labor market is highly fluid, leading to diverse life courses.
In order to advance youth participation in Japan, it will be important to (1) establish a system promoting youth policy and participation, (2) reserve a certain number of seats for children and youths in local and national government councils (a quota system), and (3) create a place in government where youths engaging in NPO activities and other young people can play an important role.

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