The Face of Japan’s Working Poor

by Yusuke Sugiyama

First, I researched the minimum wage in Japan and it is 764 yen, and surprisingly the minimum wage in Kyoto is actually 759 yen. When I find out the number, I was really surprised because I worked for 760 yen one hour when I was first year student. When I used to work for 760 yen one hour, I had been leading a little brutal life. I worked just once or twice a week and worked for three to four hours in a day because I had to do a lot of homework, so my income was about 10,000 to 25,000 yen one month. Fortunately since I rent an apartment from my uncle by free of rent money, I have my room and bed. Also my parent gives me 30,000 yen for cost of food every month, so I can use about 40.000 yen to 55,000 yen.

Compared with the people who live in net café, I had been leading a happy daily life, but I struggled against some pain. I used to eat instant ramen and fast food, and sometimes I suffered from hunger. Naturally, I cannot afford to go shopping and to make an excursion. However, I can maintain a decent standard of living because I have my house. If I had not had my house and friends, I would not have lived alone in Kyoto.

I think it is naturally for the people with temporary, part-time and short-time, which are called hiseiki, to stay such a place as net café and manga kissa. As Anne Allison said in Precarious Japan, those places are very convenient, and I thought that those places are ones where people enjoy reading a book and feel relaxed before I read the book; however, those places have serious problems.

One problem is that ordinary people have difficulty seeing net café nanmin in net café, so it is difficult to realize the problem. There are only the rooms which are individually divided by the wall, so they have few opportunities to interact with others. If I do not have much money, my house, my friends and my ibasho, I am sure not to live a life. However, there are a lot of people who are in similar situation in Japan.

I think that I can understand the danger of this style of working poor because I have experience to work for low wage. According to Allison, this is Japan’s new face of working poor. I also think we have to pay attention to this problem.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

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