The generation that doesn’t have dreams

by Misora Ohara

I was born after 1991, when the bubble economy burst. We called the bad situation of Japanese economy after the bubble burst “Heisei Fukyo (recession in Heisei).” In addition, sometimes people called children who were born under the Heisei Fukyo the generation that doesn’t have dreams. I was born in this very generation. Therefore, some adults who especially experienced the bubble economy may regard me as a student who doesn’t know dreams. However, I don’t think that we don’t have dreams. This is because I have a dream, and my friends also have their dreams.

In my opinion, the reason why adults call us the generation that doesn’t have dreams is not the fact that students actually don’t have dreams but the difference of the way of thinking about dreams. Adults who experienced the bubble economy think dreams as the situation that people can gain whatever they want, especially expensive material things, such as cars and houses. Also, they know how to get everything what they want and how happy they are after they got everything.

On the other hand, we tend to regard dreams as future plans or jobs. For our generation, dreams are for the future. This is because whenever we talked about dreams in school or family, we were always asked “What do you want to be in the future?” It means that dreams stand for what we want to do as jobs in the future, for us. In addition, the future plans and jobs are based on stability. This is because we only have the experience of recession in Japan. We don’t know how satisfied many Japanese were in the bubble economy. We only heard the story at that time from our parents or teachers.

Besides, after we were born, a kind of track was already established. It means that the course from birth to death was already decided. For example, many students tend to think that they should go to a good high school, enter an intelligent university and get good jobs of famous companies for the high salary. As a matter of fact, in my experience, I haven’t met any friends who want to be comedians or artists. It doesn’t mean that we don’t want to get those kinds of jobs. However, almost all of us easily think that it is impossible.

In conclusion, the reason why we are called the generation who don’t have dreams is the difference of views about dreams. Actually, we have dreams. However, the dreams are different from what adults indicate. This is because we hope the steadiness for the future.

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Imagining my future, with worries and hope

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 Chizuru Kobayashi

My future plan is to get married before I am 25 years old and have two babies. I hope they would be one boy and one girl. After my children enter kindergarten, I will get back to a job. I really have no idea what kind of job I will get in the future.

There is one thing that I want to do with my future family. That is travelling somewhere once a year with a whole family. On the other hand, there are a lot of things that I am worried about the future. If I fail to get a job, this can cause having not enough money to raise the children. Quite a lot of money is needed to get children to go to an university.

In my opinion, these worries are caused by instability of recent Japan. After the bubble economy, Japanese economy was so awful that a lot of people lost everything, such as their home, money, jobs and also future plans. Since then, it got too difficult for young people to get jobs. Actually, my brother is struggling to get his job.

I found that some of my friends go to a developing country to do volunteer or go abroad to study foreign language not because they want to achieve their ambitions, but for the interviews when they are job hunting.

It is ridiculous to spend money for job hunting. I believe that university is the last time that students can do what they want to do. After they get a job, there will be no time to what they want to do. If they want to do a part-time job, it is best to do the part-time job till they get enough of it. Maybe doing volunteer is more profitable than doing a part time job while they are university students. However, there is no need to do what they do not want to achieve.

In this stressful Japan, the place where people can feel really relax, called ibasho, is so important that is very needed. My ibasho is my shower room. The time when I am taking the bath is the most relaxing time for me. In conclusion, finding the way to solute instability of recent Japan is the most thing that young Japanese face.

Global affective labor and Japanese society

by Mizuki Watanabe

Anne Allison refers to “global affective labor” in her book Precarious Japan. In this blog post, I would like to write about “global affective labor” and Japanese society in Japan.

In the beginning, we will define “global affective labor”. According to Allison, it’s is defined as workers that sell “affection” to customers. For example, Cat Cafes, Maid Cafes, and so on and we can see those examples in her book. Also “global affective labor” has globalized. Therefore we can see laborers performing it in foreign countries. Moreover Allison mentions that people pay for affection from those services. And she thinks it is related to people thinking that relationships are tiresome (mendokusai) as well.

As we can see in Allison’s book, it is “easy” for customers to visit those kinds of shops because they do not have to be in trouble any more. If people visit Cat Cafes, they need not have own cats. Keeping pets is tiresome (mendokusai) because we have a responsibility to look after them as their parents. If they visit Maid Cafes or Host Clubs, they need not have a girlfriend or boyfriend. Going together with her or him is tiresome (mendokusai) because it is possible that we are in trouble such as a quarrel, a period of lassitude, unfaithfulness and talk about ending a relationship. Temporary relationships are comfortable for them. They can satisfy their demand when it’s convenient. Just by paying money, they can get an ideal world without making an effort.

I can bring myself to accept her idea because I might be one of the global affective laborers in Japan. I can understand what is it easily. I have worked at Kyoto Kokusai Hotel as a bell girl. Bell girls and boys are educated to have good customer-service skills. For a fine example of it, we cannot show our real feelings directly especially negative feelings such as anger, displeasure, and so on. We have to smile all the time except settlement of complaints and when a complaint is lodged, we must not take a defiant attitude toward guests and have to say sorry to them continually. If a surly person comes, we fawn upon. If guests want to talk to us, we have to talk to give our sympathy to them. Those facts can be interpreted as that I sell “affection” to guests. Then, I guess that guests must be comfortable because they are deluded that they are respected, pleased, and not being denied by us.

Anyway, “global affective labor” does many services more than that I mentioned about my part-time job. For instance in Maid Cafes, staff members who wear maid costumes must massage customers’ shoulders or ears to make guests comfortable. Such services have become more common in Japan lately. There are many kinds of “affective services” as well. A lot of foreign media draw attention to it actually. Therefore in foreign countries such as Asian and European countries, those kinds of cafes are becoming widely known.

In addition to Alison’s opinion, we can say with fair certainty that those forms of affective labor were born from Japanese traditional spirit. It is “OMOTENASHI” spirit. The spirit deeply rooted in Japan from of old. Of cause we can be proud of this because this spirit has supported the Japanese economy and society for long time. I read many foreign articles and news that praise this. However, lately Japanese society has been absolutely unstable and many people feel uneasy about their relationships and so on. Then, too many services like Maid Cafes have grown in society to alleviate tired people’s minds. And people noticed that relating with this world is more comfortable and happier than the real relationships because it is easy and not tiresome. Ironically, by connecting this great Japanese “OMOTENASHI” spirit with recent people’s feeling that is uneasy one, those affective works have spread and people feel real world is tiresome (mendokusai).

As stated above, I strongly agree with her opinion.

Reference

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

Konseputo café, naze hisokani bumu? [Concept Cafes, why is it in boom? ] Yahoo JAPAN news Retrieved June 3, 2014 from http://zasshi.news.yahoo.co.jp/article?a=20140507-00010000-bjournal-bus_all

Path Forward

JaPan kaNto

JaPan kaNto (Photo credit: ~Alia~)

by Jea Jeongmin

Modern Japanese society faces lots of difficulties. The decline in marriage and birth rates causes an aging society, and the rise of “hikikomori” and suicide have been recent social problems. If this goes on, the number of unattended deaths will be increasing. Also, the rate of working-age population who will have to support the Japanese economy will decrease and we will not be able to afford the social welfare expense and sustention of finance.

In addition, all people in Japan should have equal rights, such as right to vote or to get employed. For example, foreign people in Japan do not have the right to vote in elections. Also, historically, there has been some social discrimination against permanent Korean residents in Japan in terms of getting a job or housing. When Japanese people found out the fact that Korean people apply for a job or house, they reject Korean people for no reason. Nowadays, however, the situation has been getting better compared to the past. However, this historical evidence remains in Japanese society and they feel that they have been discriminated by Japanese society.

As mentioned above, there are so many social issues in Japan that must be solved to make the future better. When it comes to who will be able to solve these serious issues and change the darker Japanese society, it would be the Japanese government. As for aging society, the reason why Japanese society turned into aging is because percentage of unmarried people is increasing and birth rate is decreasing. What the government has to do to solve this problem is establish a social security system like a system of childcare leave. Japanese government must realize the fact that Japanese economy will fall into a decline if the aging society progresses. In order to stop the recession in the future, Japanese government needs money to establish the social system so that Japanese government should increase the tax more as they are doing right now. Then, Japanese government uses money in an appropriate way, that is, establishing great social welfare system to rebuilt the Japanese economy.

In addition, in terms of having equal rights, foreign people should have the right to vote so that a number of immigration will be increasing in the future in Japan. Foreign workers will be necessary in Japan because young population will be decreasing. If foreign people realize the fact that Japan is acceptable country without having to naturalize, there will be possibility that more foreign people will come to Japan to work.

In conclusion, in order to get economy better from these present problems in Japan, Japanese government leads from the front and take some actions.

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