Half of college juniors caring for family members worry about jobs

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
University students participate in a job seminar in Tokyo.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Nearly half of university juniors in Japan who have provided care for family members are concerned about taking jobs, a welfare ministry survey showed.

Many of such students worry whether they can work while helping family members.

The online survey, conducted in December last year and January this year, asked some 300,000 university juniors across the country to answer questions about young carers. Valid responses came from 9,679 people.

In the poll, 6.2% replied that they had family members to take care of and 4.0% said they did not now but they did in the past, with the number of students who have provided care for family members totaling 987.

Nearly half of these students expressed concern about taking jobs, while 54.9% said they had no particular worry about finding employment.

The survey showed that 13.9% said they worried whether they would be able to land jobs as regular workers, 13.4% said the areas they could commute to were limited, and 11.4% said they worried whether they would be able to work without taking extra leave.

In addition, 7.8% said they did not have time to think about finding employment and 7.0% said they could only work for certain times of day. Respondents were allowed to pick one or more answer options.

The proportion of students who spend seven hours or more on a weekday to take care of family members stood at 6.4%. Strain resulting from providing care for family members may be affecting students’ options for the future.

Seigo Miyazaki, head of the Young Carers Association, who was involved in the survey, said some students did not recognize their own situation because they had not started looking for jobs.

Miyazaki was a young carer himself. While in college, “I cared for my mother with an intractable disease night and day. I experienced a great deal of difficulty when I tried to find a job,” Miyazaki said.

He joined a medical equipment maker where employees can get transferred to positions around the country. He quit after three years, however, because people at the company did not understand his circumstances.

“Back then, people didn’t believe young people provide care for family members,” Miyazaki said. With public awareness about young carers improving, it is important for companies and universities to understand and recognize their situations, he said.