Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.
Anonymous student post
I have clearly no idea about my plans for the future, but I think I want to be a public official. There are three reasons.
First, the welfare system is more advanced than in other jobs. According to Allison, “Stuck at a low pay level, irregular workers are often unprotected at the workplace as well; easily replaced and fired, their rights are minimal at best” (p. 32). Workers are relatively compensated, have various holidays such as a childcare leave, nursing care leave and so on. In particular, for women, if they leave their work, it is easier to come back to their workplace.
Second, a public official is a stable job. After the bubble economy burst in the early 1990s, Japan experienced a serious stagnation. Many people were laid off by companies, and many young people couldn’t find jobs. This circumstances continues even until now. On the other hand, once you work as a public official, you are basically able to work until you are sixty years old. During those roughly forty years, public officials can get a constant salary. In addition, Allison says “Those in a position to have what once constituted the social contract of postwar Japan—hard work today tied to marriage, home, and progressive prosperity for children tomorrow—tend to be limited to those with regular employment” (p. 33). As she says, whether you work as a regular worker or irregular worker is greatly related to your future.
Third, the existence of my mother affects my idea. My mother is a public school teacher, so she is a public official. When I was young, I was taken to her workplace. I saw her as a teacher for the first time. She was cool. As I think she is independent of the society, I respect her. In the future, I want to be like her.
In spite of her good status, she seemed not to be satisfied with her current situation, because she is very busy. She has to not only work but also do housework. She has two social roles. One is a teacher to teach English, and another is a mother to cook meal and do the laundry and so on. She always says “Although both of us (my father and my mother) work, why do only I have to do housework?” My family case shows that women still struggle with the life-work balance, because the traditional concept that men should work, and women should do housework remains current society.
In conclusion, although there is a problem, I want to be energetic in society. As I think a public officer is a job to do so, I want to be a public officer.
Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.