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 Narumi Ito
Anne Allison describes life in Japan as precarious. Many problems were revealed after the big earthquake in Tohoku, on March 11, 2011. For instance, hiseikikoyou, muen-shakai, kodokushi and ibasho. People have the image of Japan: Japan is dark, unstable and liquid. People tend to have worries about their future because of these problems. I focused on job and ibasho when I think about my future. I will explain two things.
First is work. I want to get a job after I will graduate from the university, not a part-time job but a secure job. I think that a secure job has social security and a few vacations in a year. The most important thing that I seek in the future is where I can work until I retire. “Stability” is the most important thing for me. Not only me but also everyone may search for a secure job.
However, it is difficult for a person to get a job in Japan. After the collapse of the bubble economy and the Lehman Shock, many companies cannot hire young people for lifetime employment. People who graduated from university and have good skill cannot be employed. Nowadays, more than 50% of young people go on to university. It may cause worse a job shortage because graduating a university is natural and lets people concentrate on their educational background. Thus they may not get the job that they seek. According to some data, the problem of a job shortage is improved gradually but nobody knows how is going on in the future. I have to worry about my future job.
Second is ibasho. I would like to get married and have a baby. The family that I make in the future will become an ibasho for me. I think that ibasho is the place I can feel relaxed and comfortable, have relationships and be sought by anyone. I do not seek ibasho at work thus I cherish it at home. People may have ibasho somewhere, yet people who are afraid of ibasho are increasing in modern Japan. Japanese seem to worry about the relationships extraordinarily because they may think that building good and strong connection with someone can keep their ibasho because people may be able to find their own ibasho in the connections. This idea is usual for Japanese. Thus people who do not stay in their ibasho feel isolation, and the lonliness sometimes makes people kill themselves.
I have felt keenly ibasho once in my life. When I went to Australia to study abroad, I stayed at host’s house. I talked with the family every day and I love the family, however, I could not feel relaxed and was always tired. I did not know the reason why I felt stress. After I finished studying abroad, I went back to my home. Just then, I could feel relieved and feel comfortable. Thus I seek my ibasho in my future-family by this experience.
Modern Japan has many problems. It is complicated to have a secure job and have connections. The situation may become worse or better. I should keep up with the trend of times and defeat this problems. I have negative image of Japan in the future but I will try hard and be realized my dream.
Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.