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.
by Natsuki Shinmei
In this blog post, I would like to write about what I felt and thought through reading Allison’s book, and show what I hope for my future.
In Japanese society, we have a lot of inequality. Employment conditions are different between men and women. Different names are given to workers depending on their situation; sarari-man, furi-ta, NEET, kasha ningen, and so on. The working style has changed from life-long jobs and a family-based model to a more flexible and unstable model. Because of fast-aging Japanese society, younger generations are not sure how much welfare pension insurance they will be able to receive.
Despite the fact that we are flowing in a precarious and unequal age, one thing which is equally given to everyone is “time”. Whether you are rich or poor, you have 24 hours each day. However, as I go on reading, I thought even “time” is eaten by someone in this society. For example, company men (kaisha ningen), who work too much and devote their personal time like evening, weekends, and leisure time to their company, seem to live their time less. In addition, according to Asahi newspaper (2014, April 28), Japanese female high school students spend 6.4 hours on average using a smart phone each day (this number is three times as much as that of seven years ago). They are facing its small screen for one-fourth of a day. I feel it is becoming true what happened in “Momo,” written by Michael Ende; the grey gentlemen steals the time of humans.
When I think about myself, I can say that I am living my time. I am studying what I want to, and I have friends and family, whom I feel comfortable being with. Therefore, I feel it can be said that having your time is often related to being at ibasho. Abe (2011) says that ibasho is a lifeline (inochi-zuna) to maintain people’s lives, and people who you trust in are there. When you imagine your ibasho, you should come up with several places or spaces. You may imagine your family, school, working place, your room or favorite café. Abe (2011) indicates this shows that you have various kinds of “you”, and “you” differ depending on ibasho. He also says that you are consisted of multifaceted “you” and supported by ibasho, maintaining your life in relationship with other people.
In conclusion, I want to make person-to-person relationships with people I have met and I will meet, and cherish my ibasho as a space I can be myself. Though precarious facts are shown in Allison’s book and some of them may happen to me,
ibasho would be my lifeline to survive this age.
Abe. M. (2011). Ibasho no shakaigaku [Sociology of Ibasho]. Japan. Nihon Keizai shinbun press.
Allison. A. (2013) Precarious Japan. Duke University Press.
Tenohira no sumaho [Smart phone on the palm] (2014.April 28). Asahi newspaper.
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