Japan's continuing crisis of adult care is claiming another victim: adult children who are forced to quit their jobs to take care of their parents. The Japanese government estimates that some 99,000 adults are kaigo hikikomori (介護引きこもり), or "caregiver shut-ins": faced with the stress of maintaining their careers and caring for parents who can no longer take care of themselves, they resign their positions to focus full time on nursing their mothers or fathers.
One woman interviewed by Asahi Shinbun, a former worker in the caregiver industry herself, recounts leaving her job in Tokyo to take care of her mother in Aomori Prefecture on the northern tip of the main island of Honshuu - a good 4 and a half hours away from Tokyo by bullet train. Says the woman:
For some reason, meeting up with people has become bothersome; I don't have the urge. I have no confidence I can return to work either. I haven't touched a computer in two years.
While some 24% of men and 32% of women are able to balance working full time with caring for a parent six days or more a week, some eventually buckle the pressure. Of those who do quit their jobs, a full 60% report not being able to find employment again.
With Japan's dwindling population, it hasn't been easy to fill open health care worker slots. Compounding the problem is that a large number of health care workers quit the profession due to the long hours and the stress. At the current rate, it's estimated Japan will face a shortage of over 300,000 health care workers by 2025.
The Abe goverment is aiming to tackle the problem through a program aimed at eliminating the human resource loss in nursing care positions by 2020, and it's hoping to use some of the money from a proposed sales tax increase to help pull it off. Some experts, however, argue that the government isn't doing enough, and that the only way to entice workers back into the field is through larger salaries.
(JP) Link: "I haven't touched a computer in two years": Worry Over Caregiver Shut-Ins
I'm the publisher of Unseen Japan. I hold an N1 Certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and am married to a wonderful woman from Tokyo.
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