The pros and cons of “jiko sekinin”

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan spea...

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Ami Yamada

In Precarious Japan, Anne Allison regards the movement that forced people to have more self-responsibility (“jiko sekinin”) as a negative on the whole. After the bursting of bubble, the Japanese government has reformed some traditional Japanese systems and shifted more responsibility to the individual rapidly. The movement was attributed to spread neo-liberalism in Japan. The government adopted the idea and promoted some policies, for example, a massive deregulation and restructuring platform, which were based on market fundamentalism and capitalism.

Moreover, under such a situation, the Prime Minister Koizumi pushed on “structural reform without sanctuaries”, including system of health care. Reforms based on neo-liberalism and market fundamentalism produced bipolarization, that is, rich and poor. It is hard for people who fell into poor spiral once to get out of the loop of poor, and now, there are many poor people who are left by even social safety nets and cannot make a basic life. Allison mentions that they float at work and drift in life as NEET, net café refugees, homeless, hikikomori and so on. Allison also says that these situations do not match the right which is guaranteed by the article 25 of Japanese constitution; all people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.

As I received Aliison’s thought, then I myself think about “jiko sekinin”. First, I state pros of it. I think that we can choose almost all things by ourselves like in Japanese society, although free choices always have responsibility. It depends on yourself whether go to school, work, get marriage, have a child, or not. In addition, people who make effort or have talent can succeed and become a winner in neo-liberal society. The more effort you make, the much salary you can get. It can motivate you and may tell you how important you try to do your best.

Next, I think about cons of “jiko sekinin”. People were given the right of free choices and had to bear the responsibility by themselves at the same time. However, I think that the situation, “free”, varies from person to person. I mean, it is not good to force people to hold yourself responsible for everything (especially bad, negative thing), although people can live in only place where has limited by something already.

To be honest, I cannot say to be for or against the movement “jiko sekinin” sweepingly. However, I believe strongly that it is nonsense to label someone who is like net café refugees, homeless, hikikomori and so on as a just lazy without considering their background and social circumstance. Not only government also we should support these people properly.

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Refugeeism, social rights and the Japanese government

Anonymous student post

Seal of the Office of the Prime Minister and t...

Seal of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Government of Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Anne Allison (2013), Japan is facing an era of ordinary refugeeism, in which ordinary people like us could be a homeless with no job and no place to return to. Many of these people Anne Alison calls “the drifting poor” are flexible or irregular workers, including temporary workers or day laborers having no job security, often with no compensation or health insurance and earning about 7000yen for a day on average. Some of these workers become net café refugees, spending nights at an internet café or hamburger shops since they cannot afford an apartment. Among those most precarious workers, quite many numbers are the young generations in their age of twenties. This new face of poverty in Japanese society are ordinary youth we can find anywhere in Japan once expected to be a re-productivity of Japanese society and shoulder it’s economy of the next generation (Allison, 2013).

It seems clear that Japan’s progressively reproductive futurism is collapsing into precarious society with no hope for the future, as Anne Allison points out in her book. Recently, only a few percent of world population is monopolizing the wealth and the economic gap is widening and the number of precarious people are considered denizens without sustainable jobs, full citizenship or home even inside their home country is increasing. Japan is not the exception but at the front of this trend.

This situation of denizens contradicts the Japanese constitution. According to article 25 which stipulates the right to life and the state’s social mission, all citizens are entitled to have healthy and culturally basic existence (Tanaka, 2014). It could also be a violation of social rights in International Covenants on Human Rights that Japan has been ratifying (Tanaka, 2014). It is obvious that being homeless and not able to lay down when sleeping, eating cup noodles only and continuously threatened by job insecurity is not a healthy and culturally basic existence and Japanese government has a responsibility by not fulfilling this right.

The Japanese Government protected big companies in priority and introduced the system of results-based employment and individual responsibility after facing the bursting of the bubble economy and the following economic decline. However, they did not proclaim any effective policy on social security to protect people who fell out of the new working system nor develop a social welfare system. Currently, the Abe administration is practicing the policy of Abenomics, the economic and monetary policies of prime minister Abe. I suspect that this economic measure is not effective by accelerating the social gap and distortion of neoliberalism.

Statistics are showing that although companies’ profits had increased with Abenomics, capital investment has not increased; therefore the policy is failing to distribute wealth for the employees (Suzuki, n.d.). Furthermore, the administration is spending so much time and effort on the argument of revision of article 9. Rather, I think the government should provide countermeasures on employment and social welfare for this critical situation affecting too many irregular workers. However, the Abe administration has reduced the budget for public assistance since August 2013 (Seikatsuhogohi, 2013).

If the future of our country is the youth who are irregular workers, with no home, no hope or plan for the future, Japan will blow up itself. In order to break through this situation, it is very important to have NPOs or NGOs to help those precarious people. However, I believe this is more the government’s responsibility to control and correct these issues. I think one of the biggest problems is that the Japanese people have little sense of entitlement and depend on the bureaucracy. We citizens too have a responsibility by light polls at elections to overlook the hardship. I think we should not just accept unfair situations or deceived by government’s little temporary distribution of economic profit trying to divert citizen’s dissatisfaction. We Japanese citizens should actively request the government to fundamentally improve the social welfare system.

References

Allison, A. (2013). Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University press.

Tanaka, M. (2014). Basic documents of International Law. Toshindo: Japan.

Suzuki, M.(n.d.). Setsubitoushi karamita keikijunkan [capital investment and economic rocovery]. Retrieved from http://group.dai-ichi-life.co.jp/dlri/monthly/pdf/0811_7.pdf

Seikatsuhogohi 8 gatubunkara gengakue [public assistance budget will be reduced from this August] (May 16, 2013). Retrieved from Asashi Digital: http://newvo.jp/237743/%E6%9C%9D%E6%97%A5%E6%96%B0%E8%81%9E%E3%83%87%E3%82%B8%E3%82%BF%E3%83%AB%EF%BC%9A%E7%94%9F%E6%B4%BB%E4%BF%9D%E8%AD%B7%E8%B2%BB%E3%80%81%EF%BC%98%E6%9C%88%E5%88%86%E3%81%8B%E3%82%89%E6%B8%9B%E9%A1%8D%E3%81%B8%E3%80%80%EF%BC%92%E5%B9%B4%E3%81%A7%EF%BC%96%EF%BC%8E%EF%BC%95%EF%BC%85%E3%82%AB%E3%83%83%E3%83%88-%E6%94%BF%E6%B2%BB

 

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Making Refugees’ Ibasho

by Ami Nishigaki

In the book Precarious Japan, Anne Allison mentions the net cafe refugees and refugees in Japan. I believe that the government should make a system to solve this problem, and there are three reasons for that.

Firstly, it is impossible to say that the net cafe refugees’ right to life is protected. All the people in Japan have the right to life, and right to be protected it by the government. It is the government’s responsibility to do something to make the situation better.

Secondly, no one except some NGOs or NPOs seems to be interested in this problem, as it is not so directly connected to their lives. It is difficult for people to think about the net cafe refugees seriously. Therefore, it is necessary that the government, as a leader of Japan, pays attention to this problem, and lead people to take it seriously.

Finally, if the government does nothing, people may not do anything. Even though people care about the refugees, they cannot do anything as it is not clear what is the good things for them to do. Also, it is inevitable to mention money and costs. Who will pay for it? I would not. I would use my money for my family, or myself. I seem to be indifferent, but I think this is what most people do, and this is reality. For these reasons, I think it is the government’s job to do something for net cafe refugees.

I suggest one tax system for companies as a solution. If a company makes a shop for refugees that serves a cheap meal and a cheap shower and lets people stay all night, employing some refugees, the government will reduce the tax for this company.

As Allison quotes from Yuasa Makoto (2008), there are a lot of people who do not have a house. Those people do not even have a place to go back, and cannot live ‘ an ordinary life’. Moreover, they do not have enough confidence on themselves.

In order to make their life better and easier to find a job, what we can do to encourage them is not just giving money or helping as a volunteer but make them pay money to have a rest and get ready for job hunting or one day work so that they can get at least confidence in their health and body. They still have to pay money as Japan is a capitalistic country and a charitable work will not last so long. However, making a shop only for refugees may make their feeling better, or easier to go in.

In conclusion, if this system goes well, the government can do its duty, companies can receive benefit as a reduction tax, and refugees can find places which welcome them.

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The problems of the homeless and refugees

by Hitoshi Haruki

In this class, I have learned about refugeeism, such as net café refugees and homelessness. Especially I have been interested in homelessness. Homeless people have little money because they often do not work as full-time employees, but instead have part-time jobs.

These days many people tend to think homeless people do not deserve human rights. For example, homeless people do not have a home, so they use fast-food restaurants as a place to sleep. They buy a cup of coffee, which is 100 yen, and they stay in a fast-food restaurant all night. For fast-food restaurants, these customers are troublesome because the homeless are shabbily clothed, and customers dislike homeless people. Furthermore, homeless people may be malodorous, so restaurants want to kick homeless people out. I think this action is legal, but the method used to remove homeless people from the restaurants and the correspondence of homeless people should be very careful. In McDonald’s, they made a notice about refusing entrance of homeless people. Some people criticize this as a violation of human rights. I agree with that criticism, because homeless people have the right to enter McDonald’s. That being said, I still think homeless people should not use fast-food restaurants to stay overnight.

According to Anne Allison, in this situation homeless people have no hope and I agree with that idea, so the government should help homeless people so they can have hope for the future. I suggest that the government should help many homeless people to work as regular employees. For instance, the government can increase the number of employment offices and government offices should hire homeless people. Another good idea is to give companies subsidies if they hire homeless people.

In some developing countries, wars are currently happening, and people who live there are in danger. Under the threat of losing their lives they may decide to escape from their country. So, there are many refugees in developing countries. For some people it is inevitable to be refugees. When refugees leave their countries, they have to find new connections such as workplaces. However, many refugees cannot work for a good company. They work in dangerous places and have to do hard work. Moreover, they get less information about workplaces than normal citizens. Therefore, they are less likely to get a good job.

To summarize, these days the number of refugees in Japan such as homeless people and net café refugees as well as the refugees in developing countries rise. In response the government should work quickly to create a policy to deal with homelessness. Also, refugees are less likely to get a good job because they do not know a lot of information about workplaces. Thus, people must think of methods to solve this problem.

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