If I am earning minimum wage

Anonymous student post


In recently, the pay differential between the high-income earner and the low-income earner has widened in Japan. For example, low-income earners are day laborers, temporary employees, part-time workers, and so on. If I am earning minimum wage, I think I will have a lot of struggles.

First, my working hours will be very long. The labor standards law say that people work an eight-hour day. But many jobs don’t keep to the law actually. When I did part-time job at a Japanese bar, I really felt it. I worked longer than 8 hours in a day, also my wages were not high. If I am a day laborer and temporary employee, my income is not really stable and I can’t expect when I might lose my job. Second, the working environment is not good. Do you know 3K roudou in Japanese? It is defined as Kitsui (hard), Kitanai (dirty), Kiken (dangerous). It is a very low wage, but very hard work.

However, I have to pay a lot of money to live. For example, there are house rent, fuel and lighting, food expenses, and so on. If I lose my job, I can’t pay that. It is very hard for me. Therefore, people who don’t have a home has increased these days. According to Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, the number of net café refugees has increased recently. “Net café refugees are people who are essentially homeless, take up temporary residence in internet cafés or manga kissa (comic book cafés)” (Anne Alison, 2013, p44). In net cafés, we can sleep, drink juice and soup, watch TV, take a shower, and so on. In addition to that, there are many private rooms where I can cover my face, and it is very low price to stay overnight. They acclimate themselves to that environment, also I think they become feeling comfortable.

If I am earning minimum wage, I wish for giving relief from government and society. If the government raises minimum wage only, I think I can’t have a comfortable life. Japanese government carries out policies on social security, but it is not enough. Part of the people who need social security can’t go on social security now. I think Japan has an increase in the gap between rich and poor. I think Japan should impose a tax on luxury items, because the number of people who go on social security is increasing. And we have to improve the working environment from now to the future.


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

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Finding my ibasho at work, without becoming a kaisha-ningen

JaPan kaNto

JaPan kaNto (Photo credit: ~Alia~)

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 Ayaka Sasaki

My future plan is to become a hotel employee after graduating from Ritsumeikan. To realize my future plan, I am working at a hotel as a part- time job. When I refer to my future plan, many people say that job in hotel is beautiful and sophisticated, but it is not. I know that it is not so beautiful and rather unsophisticated. Because, even though I work part–time, I feel  the precariousness that Anne Allison describes in her book. However, I only work at the hotel, so I can’t refer to other jobs.

For example, I felt that some male employee, especially those who became a manager or a chief of the department, are divorced. There are a lot of reasons, but I felt that some got divorced because they were kaisha-ningen (company person). The harder they work, the further the distance from the family becomes.

In addition, the system of the job in hotel depends too much on the non-regular employees, as part-time workers or dispatch workers. The reason why I feel so is that there are a lot of affairs which can’t be dealt by the regular workers. In Allison’s book, furita are referred as a symbol of the non-regular employee and precariousness.

However, I realize that I am in an ibasho by belonging to the organization, a hotel, as Allison wrote, even though I am a part–time worker. I work as often as regular workers, so regular workers or managers frequently say that I am a big help to their affairs. They approved, so I felt that I am in ibasho and my ibasho is the hotel. The feeling or impression of approval brings the feeling of ibasho.

Therefore, the wages are not so high, and the affairs are not so easy or light, but many non-regular workers work at the hotel because they can feel ibasho.

Moreover, I guess that workers who divorced have become kaisha-ningen because they can feel that they are in ibasho—where they are approved by the company.

Finally, I think that the situation doesn’t change in the future, and the feeling of ibasho relies on belonging to the organization, group and company. Then also it rely on the approval by others. However, in ibasho, I’m not content with the environment, and don’t want to bury my personality. Therefore, I have a plan after becoming a hotel employee—becoming a sommelier.

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