The truth about Japanese future hopes

Dave McCaughan
McCann WorldGroup Asia Pacific

Japan is a place where a lot of time is spent reflecting on the past. I have lived here for nearly 10 years, and nearly every piece of research I have seen, all the reports on the state of economy, all the books and articles on Japanese society seem to compare Japan with the "lost decades" and the "bubble years" or the glorious days of the 60s and 70s when Japan was amazing the world. The future is always something to worry about, because it won't be as good as the past.

Future dreams of Japanese children

I was really interested recently when a colleague of mine was telling me about something in the newsletter from her son's elementary school where the 6th grade kids graduating in 2013 reported their future dreams.

What struck me was that those ambitions seemed quite specific and, as you might expect, just a little romantic or exaggerated. After all, I think many children dream of doing something quite interesting. In a sign of a more equal world and a general trend we have been tracking where girls are increasingly feeling Japan is more "free" in terms of their possibilities, the girls were happy to pick out futures that, in the not too distant past, might have been considered "more masculine." Here are some of the examples:

  • A policeperson who protects the future of Japan (girl)
  • A doctor of engineering who pursues reality (boy)
  • A prime minister who develops the future of Japan (boy)
  • A leading hitter of a professional baseball player (boy)
  • Get a gold medal in Olympic swimming championship (boy)
  • A surgeon who saves patients (girl)
  • A carpenter who builds lots of secure houses (girl)
  • A pharmacist who develops a variety of medicine (girl)
  • A cabin attendant of ANA (girl)