Ibasho making as an Ibasho

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.

Anonymous student post

In the future, I would like to work to improve human relationships. It pains me to see relationships that are not going well. Whether the relationships be strained or simply non-existent on the personal level, national level, or global level, I would like to do what I can do to help them improve. There are many ways of going about this. I strongly believe that a certain openness is required between people and nations for truly positive relationships to take place. This is why I would like to spread the message about different issues. Some examples of the things I would like to spread the message about are the U.S.-Japan relationship issues including the issues in Okinawa, the sex-trade occurring abroad and in Japan, and the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that is made worse when people fail to understand what has happened to the person affected by it.

However, I believe that people are afraid of the truth in some of these issues if not all of them. Therefore I feel that doing this sort of work will certainly make me a precarious worker for certain if not worse than that. There is not be a big business for “whistleblowers” when the economy was booming, much less in this stagnate economy. However, despite the lack of market, this is a highly needed work so even if it in only my side job I think this sort of work will be a very important part of my future.

I strongly believe that this sort of service to one’s community outside of the work place as mentioned above can not only benefit the community, but also benefit the one who serves. This is because people can bond over a common goal. This provides an ibasho. One of my many ibashos is the student organization I work with to try to make a positive difference in this world. We work together to put on community festivals for the purpose of community-building and hold awareness meetings for jisatsu (suicide), hikikomori (life in seclusion from other), or futoko (chronic absence from school), among other activities. In the case of my student organization, there are 7 of us from 6 different universities throughout the Kansai area. We have all different goals and interests outside of the group from photo journalist to lifesaver to flight attendant. However, working towards our goal to provide ibasho we have also created a vital ibasho.

Advertisements

Precarious life for Japanese women at work

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.

Anonymous student post

This time I would like to think about how is the current precariousness of life in Japan affecting my plans.

After graduate from Ritsumeikan University I would like to get a job. To get a job, I have to do job hunting but there is a “ikizurasa” for woman. It is said that women have much difficulty when they do job hunting because many of the companies think that women tend to retire after they get married, or have children. The companies don’t want to hire people who clearly quit job because no matter how supervise women, it will be absolutely nothing. But there are many women who will not get married or have children. So I think there is a unfairness between men and women, and it will be a “ikizurasa” for Japanese women.

Even if I write this way, I think I will quit job when I have children, and it is related to “ikizurasa” because I believe there is “ikizurasa” not only in the society but also in the company. There is a system that men/women can take a childcare holiday for several weeks whenever the employees want. I think that it is a good system for everyone who got children because you can take care of them, not to abolish or leave them in grandparents care. However, if you take childcare holiday, you will fall behind to the same period. I don’t think that falling behind to the peers is a bad thing, but most of the companies regards the employee as lacking of the ability. But there is a bad aspect to take a childcare holiday.  After I take the holidays, it will be difficult to get back to the job because I would not know how was the company going on during I take the holidays. I think this means that l will lose my “ibasho” in the company. I regard “ibasho” as the place where I can get comfort both physically and mentally. I have a image that companies change very fast so even if the employees take holidays for a while, it will be difficult to catch up the work, and surrender will be changed.

After I raise up my children, I want to open a small English private cramming school in my house. These days, we have variety of jobs nothing to do with gender. I think this is a improvement of “ikizurasa”.

Above all, these are my life plan and thinking. I want to find my “ibasho”.

Precarious State Casting Shadow on My Future Vision

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 Momoka Murayama

First, I would like to make my goals and aims for the near future clear. As a university student, I strongly wish to gain the capability to think critically and logically through various experiences and being able to analyze one object deeply and globally from the various angles are the capabilities I aspire to acquire. Having those ability, I strongly wish to work as a career women in the future. I am interested in working with workers from different countries who have different thoughts and cultural background. I believe that working in this kind of environment would allow me to grow and to widen my views. Since I was a high school student, I have been interested in interpretation and translation. Although it is still vague, I wish to become a bridge to connect Japan with the rest of the world making the most use of English skills I will have acquired by then in this globalized age.

However, when I imagine my future I always become anxious because several social problems in Japan cross my mind. Here, I would like to focus on the gender issue. I see this as a sever issue and for me it is problematic since my future plans and goals may be affected by this issue. As a woman, I strongly wish to get married and have children someday. However, it is difficult to dispel my misgivings that I might lose a job after child-rearing and have no place to return. In spite of high level of education in Japan, employment rate of women is low compared to that of western countries and I feel that the Japanese government and society are not using potential power of women effectively. This is one of the Japanese precarious aspects. As Allison (2013) have mentioned in the book, the number of working women has increased over time, however, many of them have no choice but to leave their workplace when they get married and have a baby, and in addition, they are mostly irregularly employed.

This book talks about “ibasho” and we have discussed this in class as well. “Ibasho” to me is where I feel comfortable and it is where you could feel that you are not alone. I suppose most of the people find “ibasho” when they are with their friends and family members. However, in my opinion, it is also important to have “ibasho” at your workplace. On the other hand, companies should provide “ibasho” to workers. Workplace should be somewhere that makes you motivated and feel that you want to contribute to where belong to. It should be a place where workers can return anytime. In that sense, Japan needs progression and creating “ibasho” in society under stronger social relationship may be the key to get out of present precarious state.

Reference

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

To deal with the precariousness

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.

Anonymous student post

As Anne Allison described in her book Precarious Japan (2013), contemporary Japan is unstable and filled with anxiety. I have felt the precariousness of Japan and I have been struggling to decide a certain future plan to survive in the precarious social condition since I was a high school student. Though I have not reached any concrete future plan yet, I have found the way to help myself. It is having many qualification and much specialized knowledge.

Today’s labor system in Japan is changing rapidly. After the collapse of economic bubble, the employment situation is becoming more flexible and more unstable. According to Allison (2013), one-third of labor forces were registered as irregular workers in 2012. Besides, the former protection for workers of “Japan inc.” such as a permanent employment system and a seniority-based wage system almost broke down and a new strict evaluating system started to be introduced in many companies (Allison, 2013). Considering this situation, Japanese companies may come to require people who can be immediately effective like the company in the western countries, and all workers will be exposed to a harder competition in the near future. In my opinion, to survive in this hard competition and to get close to stability, I must have expert knowledge or be qualified as a specialist. Certain techniques are also helps for improving career.

So I want to have some qualification or learn specialized knowledge in the near future and get a specialist job. Now I am interested in some kind of qualification. However, these are much different from what I am majoring in. Moreover, I do not have enough time to study for the qualifying examination now. When I really try to obtain the qualification, I may study in two schools or enter a professional school after graduating from Ritsumeikan university. However, it costs much money and time. So it increases the burden of my family because I cannot spend so much time to earn money now. Therefore I still hesitate to take action and keep this idea to myself.

In the contemporary precarious society, there are few absolute things. For example, it is thought that public employees is stable. However, because of aging society, tax revenue will decrease more and it may influence the stability of public employees. Therefore I think it is better to having means to earn money as much as possible.

Dreaming of my future

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 Kim Chang Hwan

My future dream is to have a job in Japan, as a member of airline company. This is one of my reasons for studying in Japan. My first flight was from Korea to Japan on ANA, one of the Japanese airline companies. The experience I could get at that time was wonderful. Nice service, comfortable seats, and the most wonderful thing was flight itself. Enabling people to go abroad, linking a person with flight… that gave me my dream.

For my future, from next year, when I’m a third-year student, you will find me at the career center or at seminars about airline companies. It seems that the most important thing is making a foothold after graduation and getting a job as my wish.

I also thought about marriage. One of my Japanese friends told me about the “kagami-mochi” theory after we listened about the Christmas cake theory. As we learned in class, the requirement of Christmas cake drops after December 26. That can compare to woman’s marriage age, meaning that after 26, it is hard for a woman to get married. Similarly, a man can be compared with Kagami-mochi. Basically, Japanese people buy Kagami-mochi in January 1. This can calculate as December 32. Yes. As you sensed out of point, this means man’s marriage age is 32.

After I heard about this theory, I thought I needed a systematic plan about marriage before I reach the age of 32 reach because I only have 7 years left. My vision of my wishing for a job is quite positive. In Precarious Japan, Anne Allison has a negative vision about Japan. According to Allison, of course it was before the bubble shock in 1990, people were nervous with their own property and became materialistic. And after the bubble shock, the economic system crashed and a lot of people lost their job. Stable jobs  disappeared and the new word “Furita” appeared.

In my opinion, as I mentioned above, airline companies seem stable and one of the great chances for business. The economic shock is now just an old times story. Nowadays, Japan’s economy is high level around the world. For this moment, doing business abroad seems very important. And materialism, actually I don’t think it is bad. With a vision of business, people want to fulfil their desire with materials. However, when they are somewhat satisfied, they want something else, leisure. And that can be travelling. I think airline company is one of the good business which can fill consumer’s demand as I listed above. That is why I think my future job’s vision is positive.

Avoiding Precarity

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 Shun Aoki

There are several things that I hope to achieve in the future, which are actually still quite vague. First, putting it simply, I hope to become someone who is internationally active. Perhaps, I could achieve this by working for a foreign multinational company. I have one major reason as to why this is a realistic and appealing future for me. It is that I want to have a working environment where “typical Japanese values of working” is non-existent. This is the reason why foreign multinational company is the most preferable alternative, and not Japanese company. As Allison (2013) illustrates, in contemporary Japan, labor is continual and tends to merge with one’s life (p. 16). However, I hope to clearly draw a line between work and personal life. Through the experience of living in Belgium for 5 years, I found that the average working class in Belgium are able to separate their jobs and personal lives, which is a trend I hardly see in Japanese society. For instance, their priority is spending a time with their family, and hierarchical relationship at their workplace rarely affects their personal lives. To put it differently, I am attracted to the Western values when it comes to working environment.

It is not that I want to run away from the precarity in Japan and I am aware that my generation has to face the current situation and live through the hard time. However, forecasting its future from present situation frightens me. For example, the LDP is now trying to pass a labor legislation that will abolish working limit and obligation for the companies to provide their workers days off (Kanetani 2014). Such a policymaking is believed to increase the number of overwork deaths and it could worsen the precarity issue. This is another reason why I would like to work in an international environment.

Another goal is to have a family and let them have the same quality of life as I currently do, thanks to my father. What is important is that, in my life, I’ve always had a choice and never been coerced to choose certain path, which I believe is only possible due to a stable source of income. In other words, I do not want my future kids to be in a situation where having a precarious job is the only option. I believe that in the future, family will always be my ibasho, as it always has been. Ibasho, in my opinion, is a place that one can always “save” and go back to regardless of time. My friends from high school, or even from elementary school, have always been my ibasho where I can feel like a worthy individual. I believe it can be meaningful to place importance on keeping in touch with old friends and having “tsunagari”, because these would provide an individual more ibasho (Allison 2013, p. 20). I feel that it would be wonderful if I was able to have my workplace as my ibasyo where I have a good human relationship and am able to show my ability to the fullest. This way, working will not be something too stressful.

In conclusion, my future is still unclear and my plan is mostly based on the idea of “how to avoid precarity.” For this reason, in a next few years, I hope to find myself a clear future goal, so that I will be able to work on my own initiative to achieve that goal. To be honest, I am quite optimistic about my future career. And preferably, I would like not to become a part of the precarious society, but become a leading force to solve this issue.

References

Allison, A. (2013). Precarious Japan. (pp. 16-20). Duke University Press.

Kanetani, T. (2014). What is ’no overtime money’ system? Retrieved from https://kotobank.jp/word/「残業代ゼロ」制度-189789

My future plans and expectations

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 Sana Matsuda

As for my future plan of working, I am thinking of becoming a public servant so that I can work stably. As Allison says, employment situation of Japanese society has been flexible and liquid (Allison 2013). Furthermore, economic situation has continued to be unstable as well. Consequently, I feel it is necessary for me to become one kind of public servant in order to secure my life in this precarious society. More specifically, I would like to be a faculty member of the national university if possible, aiming to improve the Japanese situation as much as possible that the rate of professional women is pretty low (Allison 2013). However, since I will have to repay my scholarships soon after the graduation while struggling to earn living expenses, whether I can go to graduate school, which is necessary for the career, is insecure. Therefore, I am also thinking of another choice to get other jobs such as customs officer or local government employee (public servant, in any case).

At this moment, I can find ibasho within my friends and classes of the university, and my family. However, when I think of my becoming “shakaijin” and working, I feel a little bit anxious that whether I will be able to find it at the workplace as well. Since ibasho is something deeply related to relationships, it will be crucial to build good relationships with others working there. In addition, I would like to make ibasho for my prospective children like what I have felt comfortable within my family.

Speaking of family, I desire to get marry and make a home at latest by 25~26 because I think this would be ideal for having some children safely. In fact, I would like to have about three children so that my future family will be lively, and will also contribute to heightening a birthrate in Japan even just a little. Moreover, I am planning to live in housing for two generations which accommodates my future family and my mother (also parents of my prospective partners if they want) to prevent her from falling kodokushi.

Finally, Allison’s vision that I have felt familiar to my own experience most is the feature of muen shakai. I can find one of the features within my neighborhood. Although I make it a rule to greet the neighbors, I think it is not sufficient because there are rare interchanges among neighbors. Therefore, I would like to think a great deal of not only my career but people around me including my mother, future family, or neighbors.

Reference

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

Balancing plans for work, travel, and family

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 Arisa Kato

My future plan starts from now. My dream is to take a job at a travel agency because I love traveling and encountering foreign cultures. Therefore, I’ve been studying for a certification of travel consultant. It is one of national qualifications in Japan and this requirement would help me to get regular job in the tourist industry. I don’t want to be haken (contract worker) while I’m single because I desire to make my work place my ibasho. So I need something strong to win the job hunting. In addition to study for the qualification, I will go Spain and Mexico to study Spanish while I’m a university student. Not only studying the language, I’d like to learn culture and tourism of Spain and Latin America.

After I get a job successfully, I will work as a tour conductor. I will guide travelers in Japan and all over the world. Even more, I have been thinking of making a plan that participants can experience daily lives in the countries. So I’m also interested in organizing tours.

In my plan, I will get married around thirty. It is because I want at least two children. If I could, I will have three. I wish the first is a girl. This is because girls tend to take care their younger brothers and I hope for going shopping and a café with my daughter someday like me and my mother. While the children are little, I might take a rest from or quit my job to bring my sons and daughters. I think family must be the most comfortable ibasho for children and mothers have responsibility for making pleasant ibasho for their families. Therefore I’ll be concentrate on housework and mothering.

After children grow up, maybe when they go on to junior high school, I want to return to working. If there is a chance, perhaps I may return to a travel agency. However, it can be useful to be a haken. Although it is irregular working and insecure, part time jobs usually allow workers to choose the time when they work. So I can adjust a schedule to suit other private events and appointments. From this point, irregular work is good for people who have plans in their private lives.

After I get older, I’d like to live in countryside. If I may be allowed to wish so much, I desire to live abroad. Anyway, I would like to find good partner who apprehend me well because there are so many things I want to do.

Enhanced by Zemanta