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    Been running so fast / Right from the starting line

    The NHK special turned out to be nothing all that revelatory, though it had the small virtue of laying out some of the major issues succinctly.

    One of the new career models was represented by a woman in her 20s who lives in a small, spare apartment and gets by on temp jobs. Her point of view was that there isn’t stability in a standard job with a single employer anymore anyway, so if she’s going to live with the constant threat of disruption, she may as well be taking jobs that interest her while she’s doing it. A former hotshot Tokyo graphic artist who quit his job, decamped with his wife for Okinawa, and now spends a lot of time fishing and, IIRC, takes freelance jobs when needed was featured as an example of another trend. (Atsushi, who’s the same age, was gratified to see this guy pushed forward to exemplify trends in employment among young people.) There were a few high school students with scary post-Amuro-chan fake bakes, piercings, dyed ‘n fried hair, and black and white makeup who said that they didn’t see why they shouldn’t do what they liked with their lives.

    In the opposite corner, we had a bunch of middle-aged people. Some of them were sympathetic to the impulses of wild, free youth and figured the youngsters on parade would eventually settle down like those in generations before them. Others made the stock complaint that those who scale down their career ambitions are incapable of toughing it out through short-term hardship in order to reach a worthy long-term goal.

    Atsushi and I cut out to go to dinner midway through the program, so it’s possible that the five or six people who were serving as bland MCs did get around to asking interesting questions, but it certainly didn’t happen while we were watching. No one saw fit to connect the dots between the middle-aged businessmen and the woman who subsisted on temp jobs, for example, and ask whether traditional (bearing in mind that that word refers to organizations that were mostly founded after the war) companies are, now that they can’t offer lifetime employment, changing their work environments to make sure they stay attractive to young job seekers with other options. No one pointed out the entrepreneurs in the group and asked the disaffected high school students whether they’d thought about founding service-industry businesses that could satisfy their arty bent and attract talented peers of theirs with similar views of the relationship between work and play.

    Of course, there’s always the chance that these issues came up after Atsushi and I stopped watching. I doubt it, though. If they had, NHK would have found itself broadcasting an actual exchange of ideas, with awkward differences of opinion that went beyond those that viewers were already prepared to deal with. That’s not usually in the program.

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