Work for Free? Part-Time Job? What is a Freeter anyways?




What is a Freeter? Does Freeter work for free? Is it different from Neet?

This post explains what Freeter is like in Japan.


What is a Freeter?

Some young Japanese are Neets, while others are Freeter. A Japanese term “Freeter” is used to describe individuals age 15-34 who work part-time. It is different from Neets because Freeter have jobs. In addition, Freeters exclude students and housewives.


According to Japanese government, a Freeter:

・works part-time and doesn’t have a full-time jobs.

・are looking for part-time jobs rather than full-time.


How did it Start?

In late 1980s,  great number of employees were in demand by a lot of convenience stores and construction sites. Japanese economy was growing. Due to Price Bubble (rapid acceleration on economic activity including stock and real estate), part-time employees received sufficient amount of money to live on their own.


During this period of time, the number of Freeters increased dramatically. In 1992, however, Price Bubble collapsed and salary for part-time employees changed.

The wage became less and many Freeters had to change their lifestyles.




What are 3 Effects of Freeters?




1. Difficult to start a Career

It’s not a problem to work as a Freeter for a short period of time, but the longer you work as a Freeter, the harder to find a full-time job.


Some big companies prefer to hire new graduates from university. Others would wonder why you have worked as a Freeter for a while.


Manager A
You didn’t try to find a full-time job? Or, no companies hired you…? Being a Freeter for 5 years is kind of long… I better not to hire you


There are, of course, some companies that don’t care about your previous Freeter experience. Some, however, have a negative image on Freeter and it makes difficult for you to start a new career as a full-time employee.


They might look at a resume and think:


Manager B
This guy didn’t have any full-time job for 3 years… I guess he was lazy and didn’t want to work. I bet he will quit within a couple of years… I’m not going to hire him then



2. Difficult to start a Family

As mentioned above, the salary of Freeters was adequate to support themselves before 1992. After 1992, however, the wage decreased and it became difficult to pay everything by themselves.


For instance, the average annual salary for 20s is above 4 million yen and if they have a full-time job.

Freeters, however, earn less than 2 million yen annually. How can one support family with 2 million yen? It’s impossible.

Consequently, Freeters need to get a full-time job. Yet as mentioned above, some have a really difficult time getting a full-time job due to stereotype and negative image on Freeters.


3. Lack of Insurance and Benefits

Freeters also experience lack of insurance and benefits. Companies usually don’t pay any benefits for Freeters because they are part-time employees.

Freeters cannot afford to pay retirement pension so there is no pension guaranteed when they retire.

They usually have no insurance so if something happens, they need to pay from their pocket.



Some people argue the number of Freeters is increasing every year. I think one of the biggest problems is that countless companies hire part-time employees to pay less salaries and benefits.

Unless those companies change their system, it’s extremely difficult for Freeters to get a full-time job.



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