Editor’s note: Students have been reading Anne Allison‘s Precarious Japan and are commenting how recent economic and social challenges in Japan are impacting their plans for their futures.
by Mai Nakagawa
There are precarious situations related to my life and future plans which I don’t want to give up. I’d like to point out two issues which Japanese citizens (including me) are inevitably obsessed with, but which are obviously caused by distinct characteristics of the Japanese people. Firstly, the current education system, which is completely set up to destroy the creative capacity and the intelligence of students. For instance, university students started to think about “shukatsu” (job hunting) in early period. Therefore, what they are studying in the university is only what is useful and necessary for “shukatsu”, not what they are interested in. There is inclination that student to hate studying and to focus on partying or on a part-time job. When someone asked them “why are you studying at university?”, they might say “Because it’s necessary for getting job to get degree, great marks and a school diploma”. Students finally cannot find the interesting points and the real meaning of studying, even the connection between the future job and what they are now studying.
Also, there is an insecure job system, which makes human (family) relationship worse. For my example, my mother, who has 4 children (including me) and works for a kindergarten, couldn’t go back home until the evening. When my brother and I were in elementary school, we had to wait at school or my relative’s house until our mother finished her job. Her income gives her just a little bit of extra spending money. Our mother have started to work for us, and shows us that she is a powerful women. However, without any children support from her workplace, it’s difficult for her to take a break to look after us when we get sick. Her choice made a hard situation for us because it took from us a lot of time we could have spent with our mother.
Then, I’d like to move onto my future plans. After graduation, I have two options, one is a postgraduate course and another is what we call “shushoku” (getting a job). Honestly, continuing my studies in university is the best choice for me. Nevertheless, without an adequate income, it’s difficult for me to pay for such expensive school tuition. Also, there is a tacit understanding that “shukatsusei” should be “shinsotsu” (who graduated from school in 4 years to 6 years, whose age is approximately 22 to 24). It’s inevitable to me to consider job hunting (“shushoku-katsudo”) everytime and also to lay out a tight schedule of study.
There is one more struggle when I get a job, to choose to be either a good mother (wife) or a good worker. Unlike my mother, I don’t want to leave my children alone and let them spend lonely time. However, it’s my dream to work at the place where I can use my experience and what I learned at university. It would be great if I could engage in both in the future. However, nowadays, in Japan, it’s still serious matter for me (as a university student, and also as a woman) to figure out what to do in the future.