What is “individual responsibility” (jiko sekinin)

Anonymous student post

I’d like to talk about the pros and cons of “jiko sekinin”.

In the Koizumi administration, privatizing was performed under the idea of “individual responsibility” (jiko sekinin). However, he hardly invested in social programs including welfare. About this, Anne Allison says that she agree with Yuasa’s view that “the government even more implicit” (p.52) to the depression such as the decline of wage brought by the burst of the bubble and the shift in labor patterns. She regards this movement as negative one.

First of all, what is individual responsibility? I was said by my father. “Can you have individual responsibility?” I answered. “Yes, I have responsibility for my actions without fail.” Then, my father said “People who understand what the responsibility is rarely say the word of responsibility” Hearing this, I was noticed that individual responsibility is something heavier than I thought, and I don’t know how far I bear the responsibility. From then, I have been thinking what individual responsibility is. However I don’t find the answer yet. Therefore I’d like to think this question through this.

Firstly, what people think and act in the individual responsibility make them to think about their action carefully. Therefore, people who proceed to the some bad situation such as having no job may decrease. I think it is the pros of the individual responsibility.

However, I suspect that privatizing under the banner of individual responsibility is the escape of responsibility for government. Some companies go out of business nothing is granted from the government. Also, I think helping each other decreases and kindness is lacking by reason of their self-responsibility. If the self-responsibility society continues, the society will be a selfish one, thinking of only oneself. For example, if you are abducted in a foreign country, some governor or some people will regard it as self-responsibility. They will criticize that you understood that the area was dangerous and went there. Individual responsibility influences to at least other people or around your environment. If those are all responsibility of action caused by me, I feel the responsibility is grave. Having been abducted. Being homeless because of various home environment. If becoming such result is all the responsibility of themselves, Japanese society will be horribly cold society.

In conclusion, it is important for each person to have individual responsibility. However, I think current Japanese society is the abandonment society named self-responsibility. People criticizing by reason of self-responsibility should think deeply of vulnerable groups in society.


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

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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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Thinking about “jiko sekinin”

by Yume Furumura

When we do something by ourselves, we must have the responsibility in many cases. To become a member of the society, we need “self-responsibility” (jiko sekinin).

In the book Precarious Japan, Anne Allison explains how self-responsibility was promoted by the government under Prime Minister Koizumi. In 2004, some Japanese (who were doing volunteer work) were captured by insurgents who demanded the Japanese government withdraw troops. Nevertheless, the government refused to negotiate and denounced the hostages for irresponsibly “causing Japan so much trouble”. Certainly, people who go to the dangerous places should have resolution and responsibility. However, I think that the people who were captured them must also have strong convictions. The government has to defend and act for the people in any case. I feel that the government pursued about their responsibility too much. In my opinion, the Japanese government should have respected their activities more.

I think the phrase jiko sekinin is used in a broad meaning and various situations, and to have jiko sekinin is very important to make the society well organized. For example, if politicians don’t have accountability for what they say, we cannot trust the government. Conversely, the politician whose actions correspond to his words is believed by people. Responsible people are socially acceptable. Then, the idea of self responsibility allows us to do things freely. Without permission under jiko sekinin, free-lance journalists cannot go and do they want to.

However, people sometimes cannot live with security if they are pressured by jiko sekinin. Many people are dismissed from their companies suddenly, and most of them cannot put up opposition if they are told that it is their responsibility. Now young Japanese tend to quit their jobs voluntarily, being obsessed by the thought of jiko sekinin. (In Japan in the olden days, samurai performed hara-kiri to take responsibility. I doubt that such cultures make Japanese do, throwing away their lives.)

Then, in the world, there are many things we cannot deal with by only ourselves. Allison says as follows, “In the face of encroaching precarity, greater expectations are being placed or not only the individual (under the urgency to be “self-sustaining” and individually responsible) but also the government to help people manage life.” The poor cannot live without economic support. Many people need supports of someone.

We have to be careful when we use the phrase jiko sekinin. To have responsibility is essential for making a good relationship in the society, but we must not forget that the word may put a person in a hole.


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

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Jiko sekinin? Ringing an alarm about the country

by Minami Ichiji

“Jiko sekinin” (individual responsibility) is a word one hears a lot in Japanese society. Although, as Anne Allison (2013) points out, “Japan is at war caused by the deregulation and restructuring that have been acted as government policies”. According to Allison, “Yuasa (cofounder of the Reverse Poverty Network) sees poverty as a form of war.” Also, she says “it is a war that the state and society is waging by endangering and not fulfilling its commitment to the people-that of ensuring the right to a “healthy and culturally basic existence” that all citizens are entitled to under Article 25 of the constitution.”

After the end of the bubble economy, the Japanese government made much of a few corporations abandoning a large majority of workers. Allison explains as follows:

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).

She criticizes severely. I am of the same mind that they must protect workers in more weak position from an impact of economic decline. Certainly, when “jiko sekinin” is used in punishing me for my wrong doing, we need to bring up the idea. But, that applies under serious mistake.

“Nevertheless these workers are accused of been lazy with few support,” from Akagi Tomohiro’s work, which Allison quotes (2013). The wrong policies are the main factor, so rather than some person who is driving forward might be punished “under the banner of “individual responsibility” (jiko sekinin)” (Allison 2013). Despite that, according to Allison (2013), Akagi says “lacking will and contributing to the lowering of the GDP” person is accused of.

In fact, the disparity between people succeeding in receiving full welfare and those who are denied or displaced is becoming bigger with continuous deregulation and restructuring. I agree with Allison’s thought that a situation that increasing number of youths engaging in irregular work is precarious as a crisis. They feel superfluous, they regard themselves as what could be replaced. Furitā or irregular work (hiseikikoyou) leads to but not only material poverty also an absence of affirming oneself. Allison states, “Japan was slipping into mud.” She rings an alarm about the country that is transforming into the land where an ordinary person could be the net café refugee.

If there were those who persist in raising the GDP, they should bring a measure that could gain confidence into effect. What the most important is supporting people to get a decent work and giving a full welfare, regardless of an employment pattern.


Allison, Anne. (2013). Precarious Japan. (pp.35,47,51-52) Durham, London : Duke University Press.

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