What does Freeter mean?

Freeter is a Japanese expression for people with low skill and requirement jobs, often working part time labors to pay for their bills.

“Freeters” are known for not pursuing careers instantly after finishing education, rather choosing to make ends meet by working part time jobs for a low salary.


What's the origin of Freeter?

English and German languages were widely spoken in Japanese university circles, even before the eruption of World War 2 and because of this “arubaito” was a common loan word among students for part time jobs.

The first time the term “freeter” or “freeta” had been used was in 1987.

The term is a portmanteau of the English word “free” or “freelancer” and the German word “arbeiter” which means worker.

Spread & Usage

How did Freeter spread?

The number of “freeters” had been steadily increasing in Japan since 1982, when the estimated number of them was merely half a million.

This number had been estimated to be over four million in 2001.

There are several reasons one might choose to become a “freeter” instead of commencing the pursue of a career at a major company.

Several of the “freeters” are called “moratorium types” who are known for not wanting to participate in the rat race of the Japanese work environment.

Then again, there are the “dream pursuing types” who are trying to realize their desired goals, that is often incompatible with the norms.

The most common kind of “freeter” however is the “no alternative type”; they were unable to find a proper job after finishing education.

External resources

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