Planning a future with social ties

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.

Anonymous student post

I would like to tell you about my plan in the future. I have a small dream about work in the future, but it’s not clear now. I think I would like to get to work related to sports, because I love sports very much, especially baseball. Sports give me many collages and impressions. I can’t talk about my life without it. Additionally, I am a manager for a baseball club in my university, and this gives a sense of self-fulfillment. Therefore I support people who play sports as hard as they can, although I can’t express this in concrete terms. Also the Tokyo Olympic game will be held in 2020. It’s big news for Japan. I would like to take part in it in any way.

Next, I would like to have a good family. I would like to get married when I’m 26 years old, and to give birth to three babies. I would like to cope with both my work and housework very well. Japan has increased a nuclear family since postwar. It is linked to various problems in Japan. For instance, muenshakai, which causes kodokushi, hikikomori, and so on. My family lives with my grandmother, and my grandmother and my family help each other. I think it is my ideal. Also I will live with my parent or my husband’s parent in the future.

But I was sometimes anxious for Japan and future. As I read Precarious Japan, I remembered the past. When I was a junior high school student, I felt that I didn’t have an ibasho. It was very serious problem for me at that time. My best friend left the softball club I belonged to because she had a disagreement with our teammates. My role was to be an intermediary between her and the teammates. I heard from each of them about some abuses from my friend and teammates. It was so hard, also there was nothing I could do. Then I feel I don’t have ibasho. I was still a child mentally, so I didn’t understand how family is big and important for me. Even now I feel sometimes where my ibasho is. But I have friends with whom I can talk about my true feelings. They listen to my talk, also they were console a grieving me. The moment which I feel my ibasho is to be called by my name by anyone such as acquaintances. I think ibasho is unstable things especially for Japanese. Compare with foreigner, Japanese desire to make ibasho for themselves and dislike to be left alone. I think the reason why everyone have some anxiety for society.

In conclusion, I can’t expect my future and Japanese future, but that’s reason why I make plan and time. I don’t think I realize all of my plan, but I would like to do my best.

What are “Ikumen”?

by Kaho Nagao

Recently Japanese media such as TV and newspapers often mention the word “ikumen.” Ikumen means men who are taking care their children so much and spend more time than traditional Japanese father. Actually my father was non-Ikumen and we, my father and I, spent only 5 years together because of father’s job and my school life. He lived in the mountains and he came back home only once a month or once a week. I never felt sadness because it was natural for my family, and I could spend good time with my mother and friends. In addition I never envied friends who spent much time with their father. However, after he came back home, we did not know how to communicate with each other. Still it makes our relation little bit complicated. Therefore, when I heard the word Ikumen, I felt very uncomfortable. Are these good fathers real or are they just on the screen? This question is coming up my mind.

On the other hand, one of my professors in Ritsumeikan really helps his wife and is caring for his children. He often mentions about that in small talk before class starts. In addition, Takeshi Tsuruno, who is a TV star, is quite famous as Ikumen. He has four kids and he appears on some child caring programs. Moreover, he took child caring break for three month in 2010. When this news appeared, most people think that Japanese society is changing.

Of course, there are still many traditional Japanese fathers. According to News Post Seven, even though bosses think it is nonsense for men take child care breaks, and for them it seems selfish and spoils their wives. Moreover, they tend to question what man can do to babies.

For old generations, it has been difficult to change our minds toward child caring, but for young generations, it is not too late to change our minds. The reason why younger generations want to take care of their children is they may not get enough money as pension from government and seniority by length of service in company.

Before researching about this topic, I thought Ikumen was just Japanese men starting to have interests to take care of children and changing their minds, however, it is one of the reasons and they also have worry about their future. Needless to say, Japanese society is starting to change and Ikumen is a word, which shows the reality in Japan. Still this word and situation seems to be uncomfortable for some people. However, someday this word is going to be usual and it is really great to everyone who has children can enjoy child-caring.


News Post

How to change undocumented immigrants’ situation in the U.S.

by Reina Doi

There are many undocumented immigrants in the U.S who demand a better life. They travel beyond the border, sometimes with fake passports, so a situation that many children do not recognize that they are undocumented until they are needed to turn in paper in some case is often happened. According to this fact, U.S. government decided to the plan Dream Act that admire undocumented immigrants to legal immigrants. This project seems good, and good step to adopt immigrants. However I think it is not enough to care of undocumented immigrants. Therefore I would like to point out the thing that U.S. should rethink.

First, it seems problem that only child will have a chance to get legal state. Of course, children had no choice to go to the U.S., so they should be prior, but adult had no choice to immigrate U.S. as well, because they face to leave their home country to support their family. Therefore I felt so weird when I heard about Dream Act for the first time (It does not mean I disagree with the Dream Act). I just wondered why government would allow only children. There are a reason that adult should have legal state. First of all, adult who is working has more opportunity that paper is needed, so they need paper to get guarantee from the government. In addition, they are almost working, so there are lots of care is needed about health, so working undocumented immigrants should have a benefit of legal state.

Through these reason, I would like to add that working undocumented immigrants also admire as a legal immigrants. It is needless to say that immigrants have to pass some terms. For example, they have no record a crime, good carrier at a working place and seems contribute U.S. society. Thus, if government admire like this suggestion, the situation that undocumented immigrants face will be better to live.

In conclusion, I think Dream Act will be good sample as a supporting immigrants project if it would success. In addition, I think many countries follow this model.

In Japan, there are children who face to leave Japan because of they are undocumented like Noriko. However, I think Noriko was no choice whether she came to Japan or not. so it seems there are no claim for children. If Dream Act will work, and improve some point I suggest before that adult should have more chance to get legal state,too, then this model will success to contribute getting better life for immigrants. Therefore I expect U.S. find solution that immigrants live with no fair, and if that projects will realize, many countries would imitate Dream Act, include Japan as well.

What is the future for undocumented children?

by Rina Yoshikawa

According to a survey in 2012, there were around 70,000 of illegal overstayers in Japan. In 2008, it reported about 150,000 were found illegal, which was more than twice as much as recorded in 2012. It seems like the number of illegal overstayers has declined as the survey shows, and we are able to solve this issue in few years. However, these surveys are only numbers of people who were exposed as illegal. It can be estimated that there would be around 300,000 to 400,000 illegal immigrants in Japan.

In the late 2000s, one Filipino family got a lot of attention from all over Japan since they had stayed in Japan illegally. According to the law, they were to send back to the Philippines, but their young daughter named Noriko Calderon grew up and lived her whole life in Japan and could not speak any other language than Japanese. It was a huge controversy for this family that had migrated from the Philippines to get out of poverty and to make a living in Japan, and actually made their life in Japan for long, but overstayed illegally. Their child, Noriko, has been brought up in Japan since she was born and had done nothing wrong, so she only got an exceptional acceptance to stay in Japan while her school life and her parents were sent back to the Philippines.

Even though Noriko grabbed a huge chance to stay longer exceptionally, she is not the only one who stands on the edge of border of their life. There are still hundreds of children in a same situation. Some might have already been forced to be sent back home, or some others might be scared of getting caught by immigration authorities. Moreover, they are even afraid to go to hospital when they are sick. They do not have a right to live just like normal people if they are not documented even though they migrated to make their life better and happier. For those children, they never get any choices and they have to depend on just the way they are until they are caught as illegal. Once they are found as illegal, they have no other way than to see the reality of undocumented with no power.

For this issue, I think all the children should be protected to live their life no matter what situation their parents create. Parents’ ego cannot disturb the future for children. At least I think we need to give those children education and healthcare with some condition to grab a chance of success when they get older. It should not be fully acceptable to anybody that may danger the country. However, I do not want children lose their bright future due to their unfortunate situation. All those innocent children should be able to take a chance to challenge for themselves.


Facts and details: foreigners in Japan. (last seen on 2012-11-10)

法務省:本邦における不法残留者数の推移. (last seen on 2012-11-10)