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Easygoing Junior High School Students in Tokyo and Tired Junior High School Students in Seoul

Research Outline
Subject: Students in the 1st through 3rd years of junior high school in Japan (Tokyo and nearby prefectures) and in Seoul
Period: November 2002 ~ February 2003
Method: A questionnaire survey conducted at the subjects' junior high schools
Subject Population: 1,831 (807 Japanese students, 1,024 Korean students)

1. Introduction
The world of adults is mysterious to children. In particular, pubescent junior high school students and high school students worry about their future. My students at university honestly admit that they do not have any goals. They do not know what they should do in the future. In other words, it is difficult for children to imagine how to become "grownups" and start adult life in this society.

This article applied research from the "Monograph: The World of Junior High School Students, Vol. 75, Easygoing Junior High School Students in Tokyo and Tired Junior High School Students in Seoul" to a discussion of why the world of adults appears mysterious to children. Clarifying what children find mysterious about the world of adults may point the way and give them a sense of direction in life. In this article, society is used in a broad sense as the environment that children enter after they graduate from high school or university, and adults are considered to be people who do not attend high school or university. Those definitions will help to better clarify the anxiety and worries of children.

2. A sense of despair about the future
Children are said to be a faithful reflection of society. Japanese society today is often described as being plagued with a sense of inertia, which is associated with negative developments such as business stagnation and corporate downsizing. How is such a society in despair projected and presented to children? This survey examines the perspectives of junior high school students towards society.

Compared with the junior high school students in Seoul, junior high school students in Tokyo are more pessimistic about all items surveyed (Table 1). Junior high school students in Seoul are not necessarily optimistic about being able to achieve items that can be substantially measured or judged in terms of successful results, such as being admitted to the high school/university of choice, finding employment in the occupation of choice, and meeting the right boyfriend/girlfriend. However, more than half of the students in Seoul are optimistic about five items that concern aspirations in the distant future, including making a happy home, while junior high school students in Tokyo do not seem to feel positive about any these items.

3. Reluctance to become an adult
Do junior high school students in Tokyo, then, actually have a sense of despair? Human beings normally lose motivation when future prospects are not promising. These findings suggest that junior high school students in Tokyo harbor a sense of despair.

According to the statistics in Table 2 and 3, junior high school students in Tokyo appear to be more optimistic at first glance. However, Table 4 shows that even though junior high school students in Tokyo claim to enjoy life every day and do not feel too bad physically, they do not want to become adults. In other words, junior high school students in Tokyo seem to be concerned with having fun now and do not wish to think about the future. As mentioned above, although it is certainly hard to say that junior high school students in Tokyo have a bright view of the future, this does not necessarily mean they have a sense of despair. Nevertheless, we should not conclude that they are optimistic either. Rather, the findings seem related to avoiding the process of growing up.

On the other hand, it appears that junior high school students in Seoul think that being a child is tiring- they want to be adults as soon as possible- a result that is clearly shown in Table 3 and 4. For example, junior high school students in Seoul complain about not feeling physically well, including having anemia and stomachaches. More reported suffering from apathy than junior high school students in Tokyo. In sum, it appears that students in Tokyo are leading easygoing lives without stress, while students in Seoul appear to be tired.

4. Parents' presence
Now, what are the reasons for junior high school students in Seoul wanting to be adults as soon as possible? The role of family as a social unit in which daily life is conducted provides insight into this question. Specifically, I considered that parents and the extent to which they are perceived to be role models might have an influence on this tendency among junior high school students in Seoul (Table 5).

Sixty percent of junior high school students in Tokyo answered positively to the statement "I respect my parents." Opinions are, no doubt, divided on whether this percentage is high or low. However, in comparison, almost 90% of the junior high school students in Seoul replied that they respected their parents (Table 6). Parents play a far more influential role in the lives of junior high school students in Seoul than in the lives of students in Tokyo.

In particular, junior high school students in Seoul answered that they were not better than their fathers in any area or could never be able to surpass their fathers. They seem to evaluate their fathers highly, and they also trust them. It is not an exaggeration to say that children in Seoul emulate their parents.

5. Adults need more motivation
So far, we have seen that junior high school students in Seoul consider their parents to be role models, and work hard even though they feel tired. They also want to become adults as soon as possible. On the other hand, junior high school students in Tokyo enjoy each day without experiencing much stress. At the same time, they are not very motivated and do not respect their parents much.

Given that the family is a social unit that reproduces daily life and that the influence of the family is strong, perhaps we can find a way to allay the sense of despair in children in Tokyo. Parents might not be projecting themselves as "adults" to junior high school students in Tokyo. This could be related to the findings that junior high school students in Tokyo have the sense of despair. Nevertheless, adults should not be pessimistic, too.

Table 7 shows that about 80% of junior high school students in Tokyo replied "I agree" to the statement "If you work hard, you will be rewarded." Although this was a lower percentage than that of students in Seoul, it nevertheless indicates that many junior high school students in Tokyo have a healthy mindset despite having a sense of despair. In other words, junior high school students in Tokyo "understand, but do not know how to translate thought into action." Adults might also need to have the healthy mindset in order to give children future direction. What is important is how adults can stimulate these easygoing junior high school students and give them motivation.
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