Jiko sekinin? Ringing an alarm about the country

by Minami Ichiji

“Jiko sekinin” (individual responsibility) is a word one hears a lot in Japanese society. Although, as Anne Allison (2013) points out, “Japan is at war caused by the deregulation and restructuring that have been acted as government policies”. According to Allison, “Yuasa (cofounder of the Reverse Poverty Network) sees poverty as a form of war.” Also, she says “it is a war that the state and society is waging by endangering and not fulfilling its commitment to the people-that of ensuring the right to a “healthy and culturally basic existence” that all citizens are entitled to under Article 25 of the constitution.”

After the end of the bubble economy, the Japanese government made much of a few corporations abandoning a large majority of workers. Allison explains as follows:

aligning with (and protecting) big business, privatizing more and more of (what once were) government services under the banner of “individual responsibility” (“jiko sekinin”), and investing too little in social programs, including welfare (for, but not only, the newly flexible labor force with low wages).

She criticizes severely. I am of the same mind that they must protect workers in more weak position from an impact of economic decline. Certainly, when “jiko sekinin” is used in punishing me for my wrong doing, we need to bring up the idea. But, that applies under serious mistake.

“Nevertheless these workers are accused of been lazy with few support,” from Akagi Tomohiro’s work, which Allison quotes (2013). The wrong policies are the main factor, so rather than some person who is driving forward might be punished “under the banner of “individual responsibility” (jiko sekinin)” (Allison 2013). Despite that, according to Allison (2013), Akagi says “lacking will and contributing to the lowering of the GDP” person is accused of.

In fact, the disparity between people succeeding in receiving full welfare and those who are denied or displaced is becoming bigger with continuous deregulation and restructuring. I agree with Allison’s thought that a situation that increasing number of youths engaging in irregular work is precarious as a crisis. They feel superfluous, they regard themselves as what could be replaced. Furitā or irregular work (hiseikikoyou) leads to but not only material poverty also an absence of affirming oneself. Allison states, “Japan was slipping into mud.” She rings an alarm about the country that is transforming into the land where an ordinary person could be the net café refugee.

If there were those who persist in raising the GDP, they should bring a measure that could gain confidence into effect. What the most important is supporting people to get a decent work and giving a full welfare, regardless of an employment pattern.


Allison, Anne. (2013). Precarious Japan. (pp.35,47,51-52) Durham, London : Duke University Press.

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7 thoughts on “Jiko sekinin? Ringing an alarm about the country

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