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Saturday, March 29, 2008
Youngsters hold labor meeting ahead of G8
Ahead of the Group of Eight Labour and Employment Ministers' Meeting in May, youngsters from each G8 country exchanged opinions on labor-related issues at the Junior Labour Summit 2008 held Friday in the city of Niigata.
The 16 youngsters — two from each G8 nation — ranging from age 10 to 17 and currently living in Japan, discussed issues that included income gaps, the importance of academic backgrounds, working hours, and male and female roles.
While economic disparities exist in various regions, some participants voiced the opinion that support systems, including scholarships, could help offset income gaps.
Max Grewe, a 15-year-old German, said people with financial difficulties could receive higher education in his country because many schools are public.
"The gap between children from nonaffluent families and affluent families can be made significantly smaller with governmentally funded schools," he said.
Mizuki Yamamoto, 14, from Niigata Prefecture, said she thinks the scholarship system is not well-recognized in Japan and "wealthy families have an advantage because they can send children to prestigious private schools that require parents to pay expensive tuition" starting in elementary school.
Participants said growing up in a wealthy family does not necessarily guarantee success in life if people are not prepared to work hard.
When discussing working hours, most of the participants said it is important to balance work time and leisure time.
Some pointed out that there are more important things in life than money.
"Of course, everybody needs money, but you should work for life, not live for work," said Anna Fesyun, 16, a Russian representative.
On the social roles of males and females, a survey of dozens of male junior high school students in the audience indicated that most would want their wives to stay home and take care of their children.
According to a survey showed to the participants, Japanese men spend the least time, only 25 minutes per day, on child-rearing, while the corresponding figures came to 89 minutes in Canada and 87 minutes in the U.S.
Many representatives from other countries along with some female Japanese among the audience said women should work.
"From my point of view, I don't really see the difference between men and women. We both have the same brain and we are both equally intelligent," said one of France's representatives, Clarisse Tistchenko, 12. "If women don't get to work when they are older, what's the use of education?"
After the event, the participants said they enjoyed the discussion and found it a satisfactory experience to interact with people from different nations. They also said that it was interesting to hear different views from different countries, and at the same time discover the areas in which they share similar opinions.