National Youth Development Policy
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1. Purpose for Formulating the Policy
The period of youth is an invaluable part of a person's life, accounting for one-third of one's life span on average. It is a time when the foundations of people's personalities are formed-a time for laying down our roots, extending our trunks and branches, and unfolding our leaves as individuals. It is also an important preparation period for becoming an adult: the quality of this preparation period affects not only one's happiness in youth, but indeed one's happiness throughout life, including whether or not a person can blossom and bear fruit as an individual. Consequently, support from the family and society is indispensable for one's development during this period, though the degree and content of the support required differ according to the age of the individual. At the same time, youth,1 who will be the next generation's leaders, are precious to society in that they constitute its present and offer hope for its future. Accordingly, society, which influences youth in various ways, has been giving special care to them that it does not give to adults, in order to support their sound development.
Today, Japanese society has become more information-oriented, globalized, and consumption-oriented under rapid changes in the demographic structure caused by the lower birth rate and aging population. This also has had a strong impact on the environment surrounding youth, such as their homes, schools, work places, communities, and places for information and consumption. Families have become smaller and unstable with fewer brothers and sisters, more divorced/remarried couples, and a rising percentage of unmarried people. Also, labor has become more diverse and mobile with increases in non full-time employment and labor turnover. Meanwhile, the spread of the Internet, while weakening relationships with the immediately surrounding people, has opened up a new horizon for communication. Such changes in society have had favorable impacts, such as an increase in the number of young people who engage in volunteer activities, contribute positively to international society, and start new businesses. At the same time, however, these changes have caused an escalation in various problems including delinquency, school non-attendance, social withdrawal, and child abuse, presenting a serious new problem-delayed attainment of social independence among young people.
In order to achieve the sound development of youth, who will live in and form the Japanese society in the 21st century, while detecting these changes in society and addressing the various issues that represent today's social situation, measures need to be appropriately implemented based on their actual conditions, by also paying attention to respect and protection of the human rights of youth as indicated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC). Therefore, this National Youth Development Policy has been formulated for the purpose of clearly indicating the Japanese Government's basic principles and the direction of the mid- to long-term measures regarding the development of youth, as well as effectively promoting comprehensive measures that cover wide-ranging fields including health care, welfare, education, labor, and delinquency.
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