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.

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Civil service for a secure 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 Michiyo Umezato

My future plan is to be a national civil servant after I graduate from the university. I have three reasons. First, I never lose my job: national servants do not have “ristora”. As Anne Allison discussed in her book, contemporary Japan is very precarious, so the most important thing on working is stability, I think. When I was a child, I wanted to have a more unstable occupation: pro golfer, pastry chef, and so on. However, as I got older, I thought I should get more stable job. Second, it is easier for women to take a maternity leave and reinstate after it. Of course, women’s reinstatement is getting usual in general company but, it is still about 20 percent. “Matahara” is very serious problem too. Third, all of my family (father, mother and two sisters) are national civil servants. So, I can know many various things about job easily.

In order to take a maternity leave, I have to marry with someone and bear a baby. I feel this is one of the most difficult events in my life. As I mentioned above, stability is very important. So, I am going to marry a man of a national civil servant like my parents and want two children.

After I retire the job, I want to immigrate to the place which is very tranquil: New Zealand, Hawaii, New Caledonia and so on. This is because if Japan does not change a lot, this country would be still unkind to elderly people. Maybe I will not live so long. I want to die around seventy.

Next, I think “ibasho” is the place I can relax and speak my mind. Especially we Japanese put a high value on “honne to tatemae”. So, to speak our minds means we trust you. When we are with people we trust: family, best friends and so on, we can relax. I feel “ba” and “ibasho” are mixed. For example, in the class room, if I sit down alone, there is “ba” but, if I sit down with my friend, there is “ibasho”. They are being inseparable. Also, these ideas relate to some Japanese social problems. People who cannot make “ibasho” in society become hikikomori or get kodokushi (dying alone). Also, I think these problems are caused by smartphone and internet. They bring us fictitious ibasho: friends or community on the internet. It is not real ibasho. This hallucination is cause of them. We should think about how to use them more.

My life plan in precarious Japan

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 Sayaka Maeda

I want to be a high school teacher after I graduate from the university. This is because I like children, and teachers are public workers. There are good points to be a public worker. First, the income is stable, and I can earn enough money to support my family. Second, public workers are seldom fired. In addition, there is little danger to go bankrupt like a company. These points are very important in choosing work in recent Japan. Allison said that now in Japan, the number of non-regular workers, such as dispatched workers or part-timer, is increasing, and one-third of all workers are non-regular. They work for low wages, and they are the first ones dismissed in bad times.

In addition, Japan has social problems such as NEET and hikikomori. People who are hikikomori become NEET (not employed, in education, or in training) because they do not work and, seldom go out. Many people who are hikikomori are young, and some people start being hikikomori when they are students. Bullying sometimes causes truancy, and it can cause hikikomori. Bullying sometimes causes even suicide, sadly. If I can become a teacher, I will make effort to obviate bullying, and I want to help the children come to school.

By the way, I want to marry, and give birth to a child in the future. I will need to take maternity leave. As public workers, teachers can take maternity leave for a year, but at many general companies, people take it for a shorter period. At some companies, a pregnant woman has no choice but to resign from her job. Now a father can also take it but, there are few people who do so. I think it is what’s wrong with Japan, and compared with other developed countries, Japanese social welfare is very underdeveloped. Women’s rehabilitation is also the same. There are many people who cannot return to their work and work as a part-time workers. I want to balance my work and parenting.

In conclusion, I feel anxious living in precarious Japan. Japan has a lot of social problems. I want to be a public worker, but I do not think this is the best way. I do so in search of stability and welfare, however one person may seek freedom rather than security. I think many people are restricted in their choice about the way to live because of Japanese society.

Gender equality and my ibasho

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 Marina Furuichi

I am going to state my future plans from two points of view and my ibasho.

First, I will mention my future plans from two points of view, marriage and work. I don’t only want to get married and have children, but also I want to work hard. After graduation, I will take a civil service examination, pass the examination and be a diplomat. By the time I turn 28, I will work with all my heart. When I am 28 years old, I will get married. These are my dreams. However, if I try to do so, I will face some difficulties. In fact, it is said that Japan doesn’t have good work environments for women. In this paper, Anne Allison says:

even during the boom period of the bubble economy, women were overly representative in the peripheral workforce as part-time workers (which they remain today with 70% of female workers employed in irregular jobs and with 80% of temp workers being female).

If this circumstance isn’t improved, the future of working woman will not be bright. In other words, it is not easy for me to achieve my dreams. Now, I think about the future of Japanese working environments. I expect that more working women will be able to live a full life by working sufficiently. Sylvia Ann Hewlett says:

As the looming demographic crisis threatens to reshape the economy as drastically as any natural disaster, better using its educated women would be an innovation that, according to a 2010 Goldman Sashs study, would add 8.2 million brains to the workforce and boost the economy by 15%. Japanese women are poised to make this happen and looking to employers to lead the charge.

I agree with this idea. I think it is inefficient that a well-qualified woman is passed over for a plum assignment. Therefore, I think that Japan should make more chances for working woman.

Second, I will state my ibasho. I think that ibasho is a little different from place. Ibasho is something we can rely on. In other words, ibasho is not so much physical place as mental place. My ibasho is the time to spend with my important people such as my family and friends. Therefore, in my future, it will be irreplaceable to have a time with my new family. To make my dreams come true, I will never divorce. I will clear a path for my own future.

References

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

TIME Japan’s Working-Woman Problem. http://ideas.time.com/2011/12/11/japans-working-woman-problem/