Freeter/ Furita: Part-Time Workers in Japan
Japanese high school and college graduates between the ages of 15 to 34 are increasingly choosing short-term, part-time jobs instead of fixed, long-term careers. These people are called freeter or furita, a Japanese word that first came into use in 1987. Furita is a combination of the English word “free” with the German word arbeiter meaning “worker.” The new word, freeter, loosely meaning “free-timer”, is applied mainly to young Japanese people and is a separate category from those who go back to work part-time (paato) after marriage or retirement.
Part of the reason for the rise of the furita is the desire that the younger generation has for more free; time than would not be available if they worked fulltime at a single company. Other reasons for the freeter lifestyle may be dissatisfaction with the mainstream salaryman career path, or a desire to experience different types of work.
The majority of freeter fall into three main groups: the “moratorium type,” who are only waiting before starting a career; the “dream pursuit type,” who need the free time to work on their real goals, such as becoming a musician or writer; and the “no alternative type” who have no other work options after graduation because they lack the skill, opportunities, or motivation to secure a proper career job.
Many freeter hope to start a proper career later in life, but for the time being work at low-paying, low-skilled jobs at convenience stores, supermarkets, and fast-food restaurants, which offer no insurance or benefits.