Abe Recovery Pits Graduate Jobs Against Senior Savings

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In the heart of Tokyo on a March afternoon, Akitsugu Yamamoto, clean-cut and clad in a dark business suit, is looking for a job at an employment agency whose name translates as New Grad Hello Work.

In a couple of days, Yamamoto, 27, will be leaving Waseda University, one of Japan’s top educational institutions, with a graduate degree in public management — and no job offers, Bloomberg Markets will report in its August issue.

More from the August issue of Bloomberg Markets:

He’s spent the past 2 1/2 years looking for work. He even stayed in school an extra year, hoping something would turn up. He filled out about 100 job applications. He dressed up for 40 or so interviews. Nothing came his way — not then and not now as he leaves New Grad Hello Work.

“It’s really grim,” Yamamoto says.

Yamamoto has known little but bleakness during Japan’s so-called lost decades, which began when a real estate and stock price bubble popped in the early 1990s and the Bank of Japanlifted short-term interest rates to 6 percent. For two decades, Japan’s economy stagnated even as interest rates fell virtually to zero.

It was already in bad shape when Yamamoto was growing up. Then came the beginning of the global financial crisis in 2008, followed in 2011 by the earthquake and tsunami and the resulting Fukushima nuclear accident.

“I got hit by the tough years,” he says.

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