Positive and negative impacts of jiko sekinin

by Masanori Takino

Jiko sekinin, in other words, “self-responsibility” is one of the most complicated and arguable terms. In Japanese society, jiko sekinin can be seen as common sense. Many people think that jiko sekinin is natural and correct. However, jiko sekinin is a form of pressure for some people, therefore there should be some negative opinions. This paper will show the both, positive and negative impact of jiko sekinin

Jiko sekinin can flourish abilities. Jiko sekinin can enhance the responsibility for what the people do or will do. Simply imagine a Japanese workplace. A worker will have two feelings, depending on the situation. The first situation is that when workers could do the work well. If workers succeed in their work, the boss might praise them. It would make the workers motivated for the work and feel more responsibility for their work. The second situation is that when workers would make mistakes or fail. Of course, worker are human beings, they do not always perform well. They will be scolded by their boss, and would feel that they have to accomplish their work properly. There might be a sense of self-responsibility for the workers to the work at which they failed. Those two situations of the workplace give a chance to grow a sense of self-responsibility, jiko sekinin.

Jiko sekinin sometimes can break people’s lives. Too much responsibility can make people feel stress. We Japanese people are really proud, or have a feeling of obligation. If we fail to do something, we might be disappointed in ourselves. When a person is a charge of some important tasks, they will get a sense of mission and a self-responsibility for the works. This feeling sometimes can be the pressure for some people. Moreover, too much pressure might lead to hikikomori for some people because they lose their confidence in themselves or escape from the fact that they failed to do something. Therefore, jiko sekinin occasionally affect badly for people.

It is really difficult to argue about jiko sekinin. The self-responsibility, of course, can enrich people’s lives. However, sometimes there are negative effects for some people. We cannot make clear decision for whether or not jiko sekinin is significant for our lives. It is depending on what the individual people think, and feel. However, in Japanese society, or if you will be employed in the future, jiko sekinin is necessary, because you always must have the responsibility for what you do.

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The struggles of the working poor

Anonymous student post

Do you know the term “working poor”?

“The working poor” refers to part-time workers whose incomes fall below a given poverty line.  However, the Japanese government does not set a poverty line. Therefore, many people define “the working poor” as people who, even if work full-time as if they were the permanent employees, they earn less wages and it is difficult for them to maintain the life of the lowest limit.  These days, the number of the working poor is increasing in Japan. The labor problems must be serious, and Japanese people have to solve that immediately. In this article, I will describe the struggles of living in Japan if I am earning the minimum wage.

Then, what kind of difficulties do I find if I am earning the minimum wage?  I suppose that I am a non-regular employee and live by myself in an apartment.

Probably, I do not have enough money to live comfortably if I earn the minimum wage. So I have to make both ends meet. First, I will cut down on living expenses. The prices of uncooked foods in Japan―for example, vegetables and fruits―are more expensive than those in other countries. Therefore I will not be able to buy so many these foods and to start to buy the ready-to-eat foods, confectioneries, instant foods and so on. These foods are not so good for our health. Second, I will live in a low-rent apartment. The apartment whose rent is the lowest does not have a bath and a toilet in the room. People live in the apartment have to use the bath and the toilet together, so people may care about how long they can use it, when they can do and so on.

Thus, life on minimum wage is very hard. Furthermore, if people who live on minimum wage are discharged, they cannot earn the wage. And people cannot everyday find their daily employment. When day laborers cannot pay the rent and are evicted from their apartments, they will have to look for a place to sleep every night. In fact, people who, essentially homeless, take up temporary residence in internet cafes or manga kissa (Allison, 2013, p.46). Some people have been troubled with poverty even though they work very hard.

Then, what should the Japanese government do to solve the labor problem?

The Japanese government should make the companies to be complete the employment system that the companies should reemploy the non-regular employees who work very hard or raise their salary.  If so, the company can motivate all employees, I think.

The labor and the poverty problems are very serious. So, we should think about and grapple with these problems immediately. And we should not regard these problems as other people’s affairs.


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

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Jiko Sekinin: cold-blooded responsibility

by Marina Furuichi

First of all, I need to think of the meaning of “jiko sekinin”. In a Japanese dictionary, there are two meanings: to have responsibility for one’s own behavior and to have responsibility for only own fault. We often use this word in various situations, in accordance with the situation.

Now, I think there are some pros and cons of “jiko sekinin”. First, I’m going to state pros of “jiko sekinin”. I think that people aren’t allowed to pass things back to someone when people use the word. In other words, we must make up our mind to have responsibility for our own behavior. In Precarious Japan, Anne Allison says:

Related to this, others see in hikikomori a rejection of the dictum to be independent (jiritsu)-becoming stronger in today’s atmosphere of jiko sekinin (individual responsibility).

In this context, I think that having consciousness that we must have responsibility for our own behavior leads us to be independent. This is good point. On the other hand, there are some cons. One is the case in which people who should be responsible for others uses the word “jiko sekinin” to avoid one’s own responsibility. Another bad point is this: people who have power use the word as an excuse to ridicule some people who are weak.

Now, I think that “jiko sekinin” is used to justify “muen shakai” (society in which individuals are isolated and have weak personal links between each other). There is a following reason. Recently, I often see some people those who insist that they are unrelated to other who fail or are in trouble using the word “jiko sekinin”. I feel that they are very cold-blooded persons. Japan has precarious environment such as “muen shakai” because there are such people. Anne Allison says:

Basically, these are: aligning with (and protecting) big business, privatizing more and more of (what once were) government services under the banner of “individual responsibility” (jiko sekinin) and investing too little in social programs, including welfare (for, but not only, the newly flexible labor force with low wages).

Today, there are some people who don’t get enough wages to live sufficiently in Japan. Most of them work at part-time jobs or are non-regular workers. They have a lot of problems. However, the Japanese government doesn’t save such people because they think it is “jiko sekinin”. I think that we never simply say that everything is “jiko sekinin”. We should not say that because it is possible that we may abandon some people those who have problem they can’t solve by their own ability before we realize it.


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

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