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How media discourages Japan’s youth from traveling abroad

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Foreign travelers visiting Japan often speak of how different the country is from any other country they have ever visited. “It is as if they live on another planet,” travelers might say, referring to idiosyncratic habits and mentalities they have not encountered elsewhere.

If outbound travel is any indication, the youth population of Japan seems to agree with these foreigners when it comes to such a feeling of Japanese exceptionalism.

Outbound travel data show that the number of Japanese in their 20s traveling abroad in 2017 is some 50 percent lower than the peak reached back in 1996, with no notable increase in recent years. An accompanying survey found that more than half of Japanese in their 20s have never been abroad, with many having no particular desire to go.

The situation is just as bad for Japanese youths studying abroad. After reaching a peak of some 80,000 in 2004, their number has dropped 36 percent in 10 years to less than 50,000, with no clear sign of a rebound.

As fewer Japanese youths head abroad, there has been some serious soul-searching in Japanese media as to why foreign travel has become so undesirable to so many. Expert analyses have pointed out issues ranging from the language barrier and lack of communications skills to stagnant wages for a busy and declining population.

But in their analyses, experts may have forgotten about a simpler,........

© The Japan Times