Young Adults on Coming-of-Age Day Urged to Look Ahead without Flinching

How should people look ahead and move forward in an era of uncertainty? It is hoped that young people who are coming of age give thought to this question as adults.

Today is Coming-of-Age Day and 1.24 million young adults start a fresh chapter in their lives. Because a state of emergency has been declared for Tokyo and the prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa as infections with the novel coronavirus spread, many local governments have been forced to cancel coming-of-age ceremonies.

Some young adults cannot renew old friendships while wearing festive attire, as they are unable to return to their hometowns. In the current challenging situation, they are unlikely to feel cheerful. However, the infection situation is serious. Younger generations must also be having a hard time, but now is the time to endure.

Would it be possible to wait until infections subside and then create occasions to share the joy? Local governments are urged to use their ingenuity in this situation.

As people aged around 20 have been familiar with smartphones since they were small, they are active in sharing information on social media. They are also said to be highly interested in environmental and social issues.

It is hoped that young adults will think about how they can be involved in society and play a role as they gain more experience in the future.

In the village of Kuma, Kumamoto Prefecture, which was plagued by heavy rain that hit the Kyushu region last summer, the coming-of-age ceremony originally scheduled for Jan. 4 has been postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Misaki Kamahata, an employee of the Kuma village office who was supposed to make a speech as a representative of young adults, said that while visiting areas affected by the disaster in the past six months, she had continued to ask herself what she could do now.

As her home was also damaged by the disaster, Kamahata almost faltered. However, she said the encouragement from her superiors in the village office and people around the country lifted her spirits and made her think, “I want to help with reconstruction efforts.”

There are people who are working hard for others amid the pandemic. In particular, the attitude of medical workers dealing with patients may provide food for thought about how to live.

Akari Kishi, a 28-year-old nurse who provided care to patients infected with the virus during the year-end and New Year holiday period at a facility in Osaka, said, “There is a sense of responsibility that can be gained only when we go out into the field.”

When Kishi was starting out in her nursing career, she worried about her lack of expertise and felt a lot of pressure. Despite that, she continued to work in the sector. “I became aware that I’m a medical practitioner,” she recalled.

The Sapporo city government, which has canceled a coming-of-age day ceremony, received a message of encouragement for young adults from a person with a high risk of contracting the virus due to weak lung function.

“There are lives and bodies that can be protected because of your endurance in the face of unusual hardships at school and at home,” the person wrote, expressing gratitude for their self-restraint.

People live supported by each other. It is hoped that today will be a day when people can realize that.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Jan. 11, 2021.