The future is fluid and invisible

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 Kota Yanigadani

The future is not fixed, it is fluid and invisible, but still we can have a plan on our future and even try to realize the future. My future is after working at some professional workplace about security or conflict resolution, working, as a world citizen, to reduce violence in the world, correct injustice, and thus end poverty in the world. Therefore, in this post, connections between my future plans and Anne Allison’s vision of Japan are mentioned.

First of all, the current precarious condition in Japan does not have a big influence on my plan superficially. According to Allison, the mainly aging population, people in solitude in  gray zones, lower positions for women, and the typical company employment system are precarious conditions in Japan. On the aging population and seniors, I do not think the truth is so serious because technology is progressing rapidly. Robot industry can solve work forces in the future, and robot can be the catalyst for people and seniors. From this point, I do not think these are related to helping people suffering from poverty and violence. Also, the typical company employment does not have an influence on my future, because as today’s plan, I do not plan to work as a company man.

Second, my ibasho is actually my family and university. University is ba for me to prove myself, and I always feel comforted by being at home. However, what makes my identity is not my nationality. Recently, I have felt as if I am a cosmopolitan, which means I have strong global, world citizenship. To put it simply, while my ibasho is my family and ba is my university, my identity is not Japanese, but world citizen.

Finally, still I have more habits as Japanese compared to other nationalities, and Allison’s view on Japan is really common to me. The most similar vision is that Japan has a strong vertical relation among people. For example, when we meet people being older than us, we usually use keigo, which is polite communication tool in Japan, and we use more polite keigo when we talk with boss in our workplace. When I met president of our company at my workplace, actually I had the most polite posture and used clear keigo.

In addition to this, there is common system in Japanese company called nenkojoretsu, which Allison mentioned. This system is the longer you work in a company, the higher position and salary you can have. However, recently due to this system, a lot of people, especially young people have been fired and some bosses are really incapable, since they do not have much experience of competing for survival in their companies. I believe the system of vertical society and nenkoujoretsu have given rise to one kind of precarious condition in Japan today.

In conclusion, a unique style of society in Japan actually has an impact on my future plan, even though that seems this impact is not a big deal. Family is my ibasho, which should be common to many people. Given the company, because it is too typical to be a company man, working as a salary man is not first-choice for me as I said. Basically, I do not want to end my life too normally, which is to work in a company, to have a family, to see grandson, to end life happily. Instead of this, I always think I would like to make some change, or do some big things, which led to my quite big future plan. In that sense, some condition of Japan like Allison said might have a big impact on my future plan.

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I have no concrete plans for my future

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 don’t have any concrete future plans now. But 15 years ago, I had many dreams. For example, cake shops, bakery, and teachers. I don’t have a definite dream now. But I have many things I want to do. I want to go abroad and live there, to be rich woman, and to be mother. More than anything, I want to be happy. I like people smiling, especially my friends, my family, and people around me. Their smiling and laughing make me happy, too. I want to be a person who can make people happy, however, this is not a concrete dream.

However, I do not think that I am the only person who cannot find a concrete dream. This applies to many young people. I think many young people in Japan do not have some expectations because they, like me, aren’t able to see the future of Japan. Moreover, recently, Japanese society became like mechanized. Life in Japan seems to be already cast for Japanese families. Mothers should make foods, clean rooms, and do housework. Fathers ought to go to big cities to work, make money, and support their family. And their children should study, and their future, they will ought to work or do housework to support their family. Children tend to have  “one aim” that “they should choose”. Young people are likely to think that this “one aim” is the safest of all to live in Japan. I think these castings  deprive Japanese people of the opportunity to have a dream, too. This system will make people to bother to think about everything, and for example, increase hikikomori more and more.

Then, how we find our dreams? How we have any aims? I think that we should change the mechanized system in Japan. To change this system, Japanese young people’s ambitions to study not for their family or their safety, but for their desire what they want to do should be supported. University students in Japan seem to think that this course of study is not course they really want to study. This problem often happens because many of them only “studied to enter a college that is clever or famous”. If these people have “their own aim”, these problems will decrease and Japanese society and economy will grow. In conclusion, we should change Japanese plans (this is not official, but reality) that all children must study hard, and all children must go to college to work in the future.

I don’t have any concrete future plans now. But maybe I can find my original dream because I was able to awaken that goal. I want to enjoy to find dream, and want to have many dreams like in my childhood.

I cannot imagine my future

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 Shiori Nabeshima

After I became a university student, the time of thinking about my future is increasing. I pondered about the life after graduating school. Although I considered my future when I was in high school, that future meant my life at university.

From when I was a child, the most disliked and hardest question has been about my future or dreams. I cannot imagine my future, therefore I still do not have a dream. Even though I am spurred to think and make a plan for my future, because the time for job hunting is conning closer, two years after from now. My future expectation is obtaining some secure job, marrying someone and having a family. It is not concrete, though I cannot describe my future anymore. One specific hope that I expect for my future is having the same level of life that I have enjoyed so far. Although I expect only one thing, I feel that it is very hard to achieve this goal. When I was younger, in middle or high school, I thought this expectation was normal. But I realized that the life I hoped to have  is not a normal life in Japan anymore. This expectation is greedy and I will need to struggle to gain a better future.

Besides, if I cannot have a lifelong job, I will feel guilty for my parents. My abstract plan for future is also to attain for my parents. So having a ‘normal’ life is one of my responsibility or contribution for my parents which I personally feel. Also family is one of my ibasho, so I do not want to lose it by straining my parents that I fail my future and collapsing my family. This situation of collapsing family is one of the famous problems in recent Japan.

Even Japanese society has various problems and bleak future as the author stated, I have to struggle to live in this society. Therefore I still do not leave my hope for the future.

In the future, I hope I have a secure job (not a temp or contact job) or to be married with someone and having a family in which everybody is satisfied the situation. And then my future child(ren) has a sufficient life such as having enough education. Also I hope Japanese circumstance will not be exacerbated more and the society becomes more tolerant.

Future dreams

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 make plans for the future. Now, I am 19 years old. I will go abroad to study English for one year. I want to acquire ability for English. I will graduate from Ritsumeikan University smoothly at the age of 22. At the same time, I will begin to work for some company. Presently, I want to be a buyer. I like interior, fashion clothes, miscellaneous goods. Making use of my English skill, I would visit foreign countries, and buy up wonderful products. Moreover, I want to design original clothes, and sell them. I make clothes that I want to wear. I want many people to wear the clothes that I designed.

Apart from that, I like to announce things. So, I think that announcement person in department store is also suiting me. At the age of 24, I am going to get married. But I will not quit my job. I keep on working even I have babies. In my 20’s, I want two children. One is boy, the other is girl. I make a loan, and build detached house. I like both of western-style and traditional Japanese style. However, I don’t like the house which built in half-foreign style across between Japanese and foreign. So, I unify either western-style or traditional Japanese style. I will have a big dog, and white cat with blue eyes. Although It is very optimistic future plans, It is my dream.

By the way, “kodokushi” (dying alone) is now a serious issue in Japan. However, in the future, when I become a senior citizen, will “kodokushi” still be a serious problem? Presently, the senior generation in Japan is the generation that supported postwar Japan. They tend to think vertical connections are important. On the other hand, our generation tends to think side relations are important. So now, there is generation gap between senior generation to our generation. I think the tendency of our generation is more popular now. Present senior generation can’t fill the gap. As a result, they are lonely in present society. When our generation become senior, how the tendency is going? I wonder. It is unimaginable for me, but I don’t want to be lonely at that time. I am going to make strong relationship with people around me, like friends, elder people, my family and so on.

Imagining my future

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 Yume Furumura

When I imagine my future, I have two images. First, I have a job and I can be myself. Second, I have my happy family, good friends, and nice neighbors.

I have not decided specifically what sort of business I would pursue yet, but I have some ideas. In Japan, women tend to be discriminated against in the society. Therefore, in case that I decide to work for a company, I will try to find a company that considers women’s life cycles. For example, it is better that has an environment in which taking childcare leave is easy. Then, I’m considering another plan these days. In my university life, I found some things I was interested in. That is to encounter people, to teach something, to do for other people. Moreover, I love traveling and like children. These are why I think that to be a Japanese teacher in foreign country suits me well. However, even though I could obtain the license, I can’t be always a Japanese teacher. Even if I could be, the income would be unstable. I may need a second job or lose jobs, and it would be difficult for me now. I need to learn any skills, have a lot of experiences, and get some qualification for a rainy day.

I need someone who I can talk to about anything in order to live. The place I can spend a time with my parents or valuable friends is my “ibasho” now. Once, I used to think that I would like to live alone and establish myself. However, it was very lonely. After leaving my hometown, I understood that it was hard for me to live alone. I was helped by the friends and neighbors I made in a new environment. In my future, I don’t want to live alone and die alone. Therefore, I want to marry a nice man and have children. According to Anne Allison (2013), by becoming a sarariman or education mama, the child tends to be “hikikomori”, and the home has failed to produce a productive child. When I raise my children, I’m going to let them do what they really want to do. In my case, I have never been told “Study more” by my parents, so I want to be like them too. In addition, even though I will work raising children, I’m going to spend enough time with them. Finally, I’m worrying about my parents from now on, because I may not be able to stay with them. If I could, I want to live with my parents after my marriage, otherwise I will get them to live in a region they have good neighbors. Allison (2013) states that in Tokyo alone, ten people die from “lonely death” (kodokushi) every day. Including me, when someone in my family die, I hope that they pass away in their “ibasho”.

These are my future plans and my expectations for my future.

Reference

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