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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Living with parents

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

In my future, I have some plans to live with my children and my parents at a house for a two-generation family.

I lived with my parents and grandparents in the same home for 18 years. Now, I live in Kyoto alone and I don’t know much about what does my family does recently. And my grandparents moved to a new house from the two-family house. My grandfather is suffering from cancer and he needs somebody’s help. But mainly my grandmother cares for him because they live in a different house from the house where my parents and brother live. So I hear from my mother some reports of my family’s latest news, it is often about grandparents, and she sometimes said such as “we hadn’t known it up to now.” I worry about the case of my old grandmother cares for my old grandfather when if something happens to them. To live with only old persons has some risks and hardships.

As I consider my future based on my experience, I want to live in a two-family house. In this house, when something happens for old persons or someone in family, the family member can support them easily. And from other points of a two-family house, the house has a good effect on children and parents. Because, in the case of both working for a living and they live at a one-family house, when they are working, their children have to go a children’s hall or stay alone at home. But if they live in a two-family house, then grandparents can care for the children. Actually, my mother and father working together, so I did not have much time to spend together. But I did not feel lonely because then I played and ate with my grandparents. They often cared for me and I liked those times. It was my ibasho.

The one of the causes of precariousness in Japan is people feeling lonely or feeling alienated from other people. I think that problems such as hikikomori and kodokushi are caused by feelings of helplessness or isolation. To live in a two-family home is very important point to decrease the rate of those problems in recent Japan. And the situation can make ibasho for someone.

My future plan is to live in a house for two-generation family. And I want to make ibasho for my family, as I was with my grandparents and I didn’t feel lonely.

Planning my future 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 Atsuko Omura

Nowadays, there are many problems in Japanese society―for example, karoshi, muenshakai, an aging society and so on. The number of old people will keep on increasing. It seems that many Japanese people feel misgivings about the future of Japanese society. However, young people as I have own hopeful dreams and future plans. In this article, I will introduce my future plan.

First of all, after I graduate from Ritsumeikan University, I am going to work in Japan. I have not decided the type of occupation, but I am interested in a travel agency. The reason is that I like traveling and would like to recommend customers the tour plans made by me. I am interested in being a local civil servant also because I would like to plan the projects to revitalize the local economy and society. On the contrary, I would like not to be a non-regular employee like a permanent part-timer. The reason is that a non-regular employee get low wages and do not have a high social position. I think that the high wages and high social position are important to live comfortably. Besides my parents worry about working as a non-regular employee and I will not be economically and mentally independent of my parents.

Second, I will talk about my future family plan. I am going to marry when I am in my late 20’s. And I want a girl and a boy. I would like to go shopping to buy clothes with my daughter and want to play with my son. I am going to retire from the company when I have a child. I felt lonely that my mother went out for part-time work and no one played with me when I was an elementary school student. I would like not to make my children feel lonely. So I do not work until the time my children at least begin junior high school, and will return my home when my children come home. After my children become independent, I would like to enjoy my old age with my husband and my friends. It is very important to associate on friendly terms with neighbors. There are two reasons. First, the frequent contact in my neighbors may prevent crimes―for instance, kodokushi, kidnapping, and so on. Second, communicating my neighbors improve the conditions of “muenshakai”. Therefore, I will treat relationships with my friends, my family and neighbors as an important matter. And my ibasho is in my family and friendship.

Nowadays, there are many problems in Japanese society. Japanese people should think the problems seriously and solve that to enjoy our life.

A “normal life” is no longer “normal”

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 Marie Kosaka

First of all, I would like to spend a normal life in the future. However, what is a normal life for us? Some decades ago, it was seen as a normal life to graduate from university, get a regular job, get married, have a baby and watch your child grow up. Now, such a “normal life” is no longer “normal” for today’s people. Though the percentage of students advancing to higher education in Japan is increasing, whether we get a permanent job is not guaranteed. In addition to this, Japanese tend to get married later in life. Because of this, a normal life which was thought the general standard becomes an age-old idea.

So, I thought about my future plan. Firstly, I think that graduating from university and getting a regular job is still important point for my future plan because they are essential factors to become independent. Without them, I can not even live without my family. My parents have worked so hard since I was born, so I would like to repay the favor of them by becoming independent. Even though it is certainly not easy to get a regular job, I hope to recover employment situation in Japan in the future.

Secondly, “kodokushi” (dying alone) is recently a very serious social issue in Japan because of the lack of connection with each other, especially marriage. People who don’t marry in their lifetime are increasing, and they will feel alone after they retire from their job. It leads to “muen shakai” (relationless society) and “kodokushi“. I think that marriage is the most important connection in society. If I marry someone, I will feel less lonely and keep the social connection. In order to keep the connection with society, I would like to marry a person who I can believe the most. While I hope for new connections, old connections such as my family, old friends, and my teacher are also significant. Even if I become independent, I want to meet my family with my new family sometimes a year, and seeing my old friends and talking about how I am doing are also important things.

Finally, I can’t expect where is my ibasho in the future. However, I should be in the place where I am satisfied with, and play a role as a member of society. Though Japan is a very precarious at present and its future can not be said bright, I can change a situation around me by myself.

Imagining my future in 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.

Anonymous student post

I have not decided my future occupation. I want to work in foreign countries or with using English. If I become a translator, I could use English skill. Besides, if I become diplomat, I may work all over the world. I am originally interested in English and the world situation. In this college, I read many English articles or documents and study international relations now.

Recently, it seems that globalization is advancing in the world. Some Japanese companies start to operate overseas. So I think that there are many chances of using English in the future. It needs highly competent people in workplace. I want to work in those global office and be a talented person.

In Japan, there are many problems in various fields now. One problem is ‘employment’. This is not easy to resolve. The number of irregular workers increases every year. The salary of those workers is lower than that of regular workers. In addition, they may suddenly be fired because of the depression or cutting down labor cost. So I think that this present working condition is unstable. I worried about obtaining employment in the future. The Japanese government should establish some policies rapidly. It needs to stabilize employment and increase mobility in the job market. On a different subject, there is the word ‘muenshakai’. It explains the relationless society. It also leads to many problems such as ‘kodokushi’ (lonely death), the destruction of family blood and thin human relation. However, I am blessed with family or friends so I do not feel isolation. Then I think that it is important to communicate with other people. If anything serious happens, the important thing is the human ties.

In the future, if I get married or have a child, I would like to continue working. I manage to handle both a career and raising a child. However, it is difficult for woman to work after giving birth. It seems that the number of a child on the waiting list for admission to a kindergarten increase. It needs to make complete nursery or childcare leave. The Japanese government needs to improve women’s working condition.

At last, I want to have a wider field of vision and to grow in knowledge. Now, I study hard in this college. In addition, I want to improve my English skill. So I have concrete dream and imagine my future clearly.

Balancing my goals with reality and hard choices

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

After I graduate from the university, I’d like to study at national university to get a master’s degree. (I don’t know what category I choose.) It’s still up in the air as of now.

What is indispensable for going on to a school and then continue to study is money. I watched a TV program named “part-time jobs are threatening student’s lives”. Students have no choice but to work to make money for their everyday life, because the money that their parents send is decreasing year by year. According to Allison (2013), “one-third of all workers today are only irregularly employed. Holding jobs that are part-time, temporary, or contact labor, irregular workers lack job security, benefits, or decent wages.” I’ve felt that Japanese lifelong employment has collapsed, as she states. That also makes students poor. I imagine I may contribute to my support like students who the program has taken up. According to “Education at a Glance 2013 OECD Indicators”, “public expenditure on education in Japan ranks in most lowest among the member state.”

After studying at a graduate school, I’d like to get a job at an NGO in order to accumulate experiences of supporting people in hard situation. Later some years, working as a member of international institutions is my final goal.

In the case, it takes much time to hunt job at these institutions than others for way of severe employment. That means I have to work to earn my living until getting the job. Though, I doubt whether I find a sustainable job. Allison says (2013) “one-half of all young workers are ‘working poor'”. I might slide into this one.

Ideally speaking, before I turn thirty years old, I hope that I will be hired. Though there’s no guarantee. While I’m striving for the goal, my parents and grandparents could come down with a disease or divorce. In a worst-case scenario, somebody might die alone. As Allison states (2013) “All alone people die, which happens everywhere in Japan”, which is no longer other people concerns.

Taking account of these facts, I expect that I will hesitate to make a choice of working abroad or in Japan. Roughly speaking, serving at an NGO or an international institution in Japan could be possible. So that I can imagine that I will be working in Japan by any chance. It occurred to me that to start work as soon as I graduate from school. This idea might make my parents feel relieved, even though it also means giving up my goal.

From my expectation, I wouldn’t get married. I won’t want to part with my career that I will have built up. In Japanese society, women’s marriage means retiring from their work conventionally. But for family such as husband and child, probably no one knows of my death.

Thus to avoid dying alone, I hope that I will keep in touch with my friends and cousins, familiar people from now on. When think of ibasho, I consider a comfortable space where people who accept without reserve as ibasho. For me, ibasho is the place where my familiar people are.

The other day, I heard that the elementary school which my father went to may be closed within a few years due to a decrease of children. This typical reality shows example of shoushikoureika (Japan’s declining population). In the future, it will be going on more and more. I predict this phenomenon affects my future in form of maintaining living standard.

References

Allison, Anne. (2013). Precarious Japan. (pp.12) Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

NAVIGATION 2014.4.25 “part-time jobs are threatening student’s lives” from NHK online Website: http://www.nhk.or.jp/nagoya/navigation/past/

OECD (2013), Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing from OECD Web site: http://www.oecd.org/edu/eag.htm

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.