Nihon Seisansei Honbu, a research center that specializes in productivity, has carried out a survey since 1991 among recent college graduates who have entered the work force. They hand out the questionnaires twice a year, once in the spring just as new grads are starting work in their shiny new suits, and a second time six months later after the same shakaijin (members of society, which is what you are called once you actually enter the work force) have had a chance to see what the working life is all about.
In 2006 the survey started including a statement that went something like “I don’t need more money than others my age as long as I am making enough to live on.” Last spring, only 36.2 percent of those surveyed gave an affirmative response to this statement, but six months later the percentage rose to 41.7 percent, the highest it’s ever been. Granted, negative responses were higher, 52.9 percent, but Asahi Shimbun, for one, analyzed these results as meaning that the longer these people were on the job, the more they realized how precarious their situation was. Being employed wasn’t a guarantee.