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New adults, draw on your courage and open the door to a new world

The Yomiuri Shimbun A total of 1.23 million new adults embarked on a fresh stage in life on Monday, which was Coming-of-Age Day. Many have surely turned their thoughts to what they will be able to do as adults, while maintaining a sense of gratitude to those who have supported them.

It was in 1997 when these new adults were born. In that year, banks and securities companies went bankrupt one after another, with, for instance, Yamaichi Securities Co. shutting down at its own initiative. The use of cell phones spread rapidly. It was also around that time when the people, as many as one in every 10 in this country, began using the internet.

The internet has now become an indispensable part of social infrastructure. Social networking services (SNS), such as LINE, have taken root as communication tools among young people.

SNS is undoubtedly a handy and convenient tool. While it is a matter of fact that there are risks hidden in the use of such a tool, such as the possibility of it being misused for crimes, its potential is greater and more diverse than such risks. If it is made use of wisely and tactfully, there will be a new world open for the users.

Not only for communicating among friends and peers, SNS should also be utilized to interact with people of different positions and generations.

Masako Yamamoto, 24, from Tokyo, has been engaged over the past two years in the activity of lending long-sleeved kimono — often worn at coming-of-age ceremonies — free of charge to women who were brought up at children’s nursing facilities. Yamamoto herself lived till the age of 18 at a children’s home. Although she started living on her own after she graduated from high school, she faced hard circumstances, giving up on attending a coming-of-age ceremony.

Shining examples

She became very unhappy over this, but later was able to have a photograph taken of herself dressed in a long-sleeved kimono, thanks to her senior’s support. She recalled heartily that she was saved by the one who thought kindly of her.

She launched her present project in the hope of “having many people experience the joy of wearing a long-sleeved kimono.” While sharing her own early life experience via SNS and her website, she called for offers of long-sleeved kimono from well-wishers. Her flexible way of thinking has opened a precious door.

At present, there are more than 80 cooperators in her project. She holds a gathering for photographs regularly. Hearing the voices of joy from among the participants, she gets a real feeling of her own worth, she says.

Gomi Hayakawa, a 22-year-old senior at Tama Art University, established an apparel maker three years ago.

The tights she had been producing on her own since her high school days came to be much talked about on SNS. Utilizing SNS, she expanded personal contacts, and developed her business into a company that employs 10 people, with an annual turnover of tens of millions of yen. In spite of inconsiderate slanders she received, she continued confronting difficulties undauntedly.

Hayakawa feels that “I can still grow up, by being linked together with people and society.” She has even been engaged in job-hunting activities, as ordinary students do, with a belief that “there is no need for me to hastily decide on my own future.”

No one gets anywhere by shrinking back, afraid of making mistakes. The important thing is, first of all, to take the first step forward.

The forward-looking stance of youth will bring about vigor in society.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 9, 2018)Speech



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