Struggles of living in Japan

Anonymous student post

The minimum wage in Kyoto is 773 yen. It may be the limit to earn 6,000 to 8,000 yen in a day with minimum wage. The problem will be not serious when people can get only minimum wage if they have a family who supports them (such as university students doing a part time job). However there are many serious cases in Japan. Net café refugees can be taken as an example. Net café refugees can earn money for today, however they can’t earn money for saving even though they work as hard as they can do. They “usually rely on temporary work (haken) or day labor (hiyatoi)” (Allison 2013:44) and can get almost minimum wage in Japan.

Relying on unstable jobs and getting a low salary, people continually feel anxiety and they can’t maintain themselves both mentally and physically. A net café is like home, however “‘Home,’ when they find it in a net café, is decidedly unhomey” (Allison 2013:45). Furthermore many people have to worry about the job for tomorrow every night. They spend a day with the wage they get on that day, hence there are no foods and no place where they spend a night if they can’t find a job. Sometimes they are introduced too dangerous job from the temporary staff agency. Some employers might think poor people would do the hazardous job with bad condition because they couldn’t manage a day without the job.

There are not only net café refugees but also other people who are hired as irregular workers and live on the edge. It is difficult to get stable job without graduating high school or even university in Japanese modern society. People almost can’t get out the bad cycle of poverty if people leave the way of getting the life of stability once (giving up high school and so on). Some people are deprived of “a safety net, social support system, or reserves of almost any kind” (Allison 2013:45) and even hopes for the future. They lose most things that would support them and feel “devoid of hope or dreams for tomorrow” (Allison 2013:46). Their lost thing is not only them, but also ibasho.

There are many people who work with minimum wage or close to the minimum in Japan. If they live alone, it would be hard to live mentally, physically and financially. With minimum wage, people can’t use their time to enjoy much even are filled with anxiety and hopeless. Japan hold many people who have no ibasho and no hope. The bad cycle of hopeless should be solved as soon as possible and Japan should become the society filled with hope for tomorrow.

Reference

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

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Minimum wage as a student

Anonymous student post

In my hometown, Hyogo, the minimum wage is 800 yen, but it is surprisingly 660 yen in Japan. It is very low. Furthermore, I live in Hyogo with my family, so I have no difficulty, although my wage is 770 yen. But, I would like to imagine when I have a part-time job at the minimum wage and live along in the city where the wage is lowest.

I have played basketball since I was eleven years old. I have practices about twice or three times a week, so I cannot work those days. I work for four hours a day and about three or four days a week. Calculating my monthly salary, the salary is about 39,600 yen. It might look not so low, but this is not true. This is because I must pay some expenses: gas, water, and electricity. In Japan, these expenses is totally 5,000 yen on the average, and the average food one is 25000 yen. Subtracting these expenditures from the salary, I have only 9,600 yen at hand. I cannot play with my friend and cannot even save money. I use it up at once.

It might be important for me to save money for my future. I cannot live at this rate. Therefore, I add to working day. If I worked about five or six days a week, I would earn about 80,000 yen. It is very higher wage than former one. However, there are some problems. First problem is that I cannot allot much time to study or do my assignments. This is because I think that students’ main occupation is learning. Second problem is that I cannot have a sufficient rest. If the working day increase, it is natural that working day falls on the day when I play basketball. Working too much makes me exhausted mentally and physically. This might lead mistakes on working and a falling of my concentration on studying. This is a vicious circle.

In order not to fall into the circle, I have to do something. For example, I ask my parents to provide a monthly allowance, economize on gas, water, and electricity fees, save board, and so on. There are many ways to get through the problems even though my wage is minimum.

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The Face of Japan’s Working Poor

by Yusuke Sugiyama

First, I researched the minimum wage in Japan and it is 764 yen, and surprisingly the minimum wage in Kyoto is actually 759 yen. When I find out the number, I was really surprised because I worked for 760 yen one hour when I was first year student. When I used to work for 760 yen one hour, I had been leading a little brutal life. I worked just once or twice a week and worked for three to four hours in a day because I had to do a lot of homework, so my income was about 10,000 to 25,000 yen one month. Fortunately since I rent an apartment from my uncle by free of rent money, I have my room and bed. Also my parent gives me 30,000 yen for cost of food every month, so I can use about 40.000 yen to 55,000 yen.

Compared with the people who live in net café, I had been leading a happy daily life, but I struggled against some pain. I used to eat instant ramen and fast food, and sometimes I suffered from hunger. Naturally, I cannot afford to go shopping and to make an excursion. However, I can maintain a decent standard of living because I have my house. If I had not had my house and friends, I would not have lived alone in Kyoto.

I think it is naturally for the people with temporary, part-time and short-time, which are called hiseiki, to stay such a place as net café and manga kissa. As Anne Allison said in Precarious Japan, those places are very convenient, and I thought that those places are ones where people enjoy reading a book and feel relaxed before I read the book; however, those places have serious problems.

One problem is that ordinary people have difficulty seeing net café nanmin in net café, so it is difficult to realize the problem. There are only the rooms which are individually divided by the wall, so they have few opportunities to interact with others. If I do not have much money, my house, my friends and my ibasho, I am sure not to live a life. However, there are a lot of people who are in similar situation in Japan.

I think that I can understand the danger of this style of working poor because I have experience to work for low wage. According to Allison, this is Japan’s new face of working poor. I also think we have to pay attention to this problem.

Reference

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

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Refugeeism and Denizenship

by Asuko Sugino

First of all, I’ll talk about the definitions of “refugeeism” and ”denizenship”, secondly I’ll refer to where refugees or denizens might belong to instead, and then finally I’d like to mention an example of one refugee in the Philippines who made the organization working for equality and social justice.

The word “refugee” in Precarious Japan by Anne Allison is used in a broad sense. That is to say, it indicates everyone who doesn’t have the place where they can feel comfortable or a sense of home, rather than the people who live in a tent in a refugee camp. She declares to us that this refugeeism has become “ordinary” in Japan which can’t provide “ibasho” for the citizen, citing many examples of “net café refugees” or “temps”. These refugees cannot be equal to non-refugees in various ways (shelter, stable salary, guarantee for future).

On the other hand, “denizen” in this article doesn’t include the above-mentioned examples such as Japanese net café refugees or temp workers. Refugees don’t have “ibasho” but “citizenship” at least. “Denizen” lacks not only secure job, where to return but also their own citizenship, therefore they are not regarded as citizen but resident alien. I think that “denizens” lacks both of equal status and rights, while “refugees” lacks just equal status. To make the worse, according to Anne Allison, denizenship is made use of and exploited by global capitalism because denizens have no choice but to stand working at low wage, with short-term contract and few benefits. Additionally, this system using denizen labors is plotted on purpose and the number of them will increase.

Now, where do they find alternative “ibasho”? In my opinion, both of refugees and denizens tend to seek it at anti-social organizations such as gangster organizations or crime syndicates, because society robbed them of essential status and rights. Some decide to soak themselves into drugs or alcohol without seeking alternative “ibasho”. However, some people try to alter by themselves the wrong social system, facing the reason why the society failed to give them the benefits to be granted. The following is one example.

In the Philippines, 10 years ago, one 16-year boy named Eflen Penyaflorida living in a slum in Manila was worried about the future of his hometown. The children surrounding him supported their families’ living by gathering garbage, so most of them don’t receive an education and become gang members as they grew up. He hoped the gangs in Manila would disappear by receiving enough education to gain ordinary jobs. He established “DTC (Dynamic Teen Company)” and started teaching the children by himself breaking down their parents’ opposition. Now, the scale of the organization is as large as the school and it was awarded a prize by CNN. Eflen didn’t look for his new “ibasho”, but create it by himself.

Everyone cannot make their own “ibasho” by their hands, still we have the responsibility for trying to make the proper place for “refugees” or “denizens” instead of anti-social places, as a member of the society.

Reference

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

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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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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.

Reference

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

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The Struggle with Minimum Wage

by Yuri Muramatsu

Japan faces a difficult situation because the Japanese social system is about to collapse. I am a student now and I worked in a part-time job. I worked three days a week and I could earn about 30,000 yen per month. I accept monetary assistance from my parents but some people do not have parents or relatives so they have to make a living only on their own. I also accept a scholarship so if my parents cannot assist me, I will be able to manage my living cost by using it.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, people who earn under the minimum cost of living can receive welfare. Moreover, Anne Allison mentioned a woman who is haken (temporary worker) and is estranged from her parents. She could not accept any assistance. Her rent is now 35,000 yen per month but she used to live in a place that cost 100,000 yen a month. She tried to cut down her living cost but her working chances became smaller all the time. What is more, she has a disease.

Generally speaking, people who fulfill the following four condition can accept welfare. First, no one assists you, like parents or relatives. Second, you do not have any property. Third, you cannot work because of an illness or injury. If all these conditions are not fulfilled, you cannot get minimum living cost per month.

Considering this situation, if I earn minimum wage and I cannot accept any assistance from parents or relatives with legal age, I will face a lot of struggles. The minimum wage in Kyoto is 773 yen per hour. It means I can get about 154,600 yen per month in case of working 8 hours per day, 25 days per month. At first, I would face residential problems because my rent is now 48,000 per month. If I can only earn minimum wage, I cannot manage my living cost. I pay 88,000 as living costs like charge of water, gas, and electricity costs and administration costs. Although I can manage living cost at least, I cannot pay school expenses and I do not have time to go to university because I have to earn money to live. As a result of this situation, the only way is to quit university to manage my money. This may lead me to become a temporary worker like her. What is more, this may connect to death from overwork.

If I pay my school expenses, I must cut the living costs. One efficient way is moving to cheaper residence but I do not have enough money to move to another house. That is why I will be a net café refugee. Anne Allison shows that it is difficult for young people to receive welfare because they can still work. On the other hand, some think that “being young is not a reason for denying someone welfare” (p.56). I belong to a young generation so I will not receive any welfare. Therefore, I can only rely on my friends. It is important to have connectedness. But if I rely too much on my friends, I will lose them and my credit. Regaining trust is difficult and it takes a long time. When I lose connectedness, I need some support from others. Then an “Independent life support center” is instrumental for me to find independence. Allison says finding independence is hard.

To sum up my opinion, if I am earning minimum wage, I cannot manage my living costs so I try to make a living by cutting down my rent. There are possibilities to be a net café refugee. I would face many struggle in terms of human relations.

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Living in Japan on minimum wage

Masatoshi Yamamoto

According to Anne Allison‘s Precarious Japan, we can see that Japan is very precarious now. Japan has a lot of serious social problems such as kakusa shakai, muen shakai, ikizurasa and so on, and there are a lot of people who can’t have hope for their future because of such problems. The precariat and the working poor are kinds of these people. Precariat means irregular workers, and working poor is people who can’t get enough wages, although they are working hard. Why are there so many precarious people in Japan? Why is Japan so precarious? I am worried about my future because I read this book and knew many serious facts in recent Japan.

In recent Japan, the number of net café dwellers is increasing. Many of them are irregular workers or jobless people, and the working poor are a kind of irregular workers. The working poor work as hard as regular workers every day, but they get wages less than those of regular workers. Moreover, a day labor earns on average 6000 to 8000 yen for one day, and it is difficult to live in Japan. Many people live in net cafés, though they are working. The reason is because the minimum age is very low in Japan. They can’t get enough wages to live on.

I can’t have clear image in my future yet, and I don’t know what kind of job I want to get. However, I want to work in a company and be a regular worker to get a stable salary to live. Nowadays, it is difficult for youths to find a job, and many of them become irregular workers. Therefore, maybe I will become an irregular worker if I can’t get my ideal job in my job search. If I become an irregular worker and earn wage that is close to minimum wage, I will hold a demonstration against the government or local community. I think that there are a lot of people who have same idea, so we should argue that the minimum wage is too low to live. The system of minimum wage will not change if we do something.

Our parents pay a lot of taxes, and I think that the government has some extra money because of the large amount of taxes. If it is true, I want government to provide funds to each local community. I wonder why the minimum wages are different among local communities. I hope these issues about minimum wage will be debated in Japanese society more than ever.

Reference

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

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The present situation of Japanese poverty

by Mizuki Watanabe

According to Anne Alison, present-day Japan has a different host of issues. In particular, one of the most serious problems is poverty. Generally speaking, Japan is very developed country and most people imagine that this country is not involved in poverty. However, there are many people who live at a minimum standard of living. Jobs of those people are usually unstable and often are non-regular jobs. Those poor people do not have equal rights and equal status compared to regular workers. That is to say, their fundamental human rights are violated. Nevertheless, little attention has been given to those problems. We are here concerned with two questions, “What are factors of those Japanese problems? Why does Japan not change and cannot solve those problems?”

The first point that we should discuss is a policy of the Japanese government for the economy. Apparently, poverty is related to the economic situation of our country. When the economy has come to a standstill, the Japanese government always establishes a practical policy only for the economy. To put it another way, it usually ignores the others such as the daily lives of nations and so on. Public assistance must be important at this point. If citizen’s lives are not guaranteed, the Japanese economy never recovers.

Unfortunately, nowadays fundamental problems remain unanswered. Actually, there is public assistance such as a livelihood protection system in Japan. However, such a social security does not work enough. According to OECD.stat (date extracted on 30 Sep 2013), Japanese costs for social security are lower than in any other developed country, especially European countries. Moreover, the Japanese government cut the cost of livelihood protection twice.

Some man has a wife and two children who go to an elementary school. Because of the policy, he does not get enough money and has to cut down their cost of foods and they always eat instant food such as “cup ramen”. Nowadays, there are many people in Japan who live in such a terrible situation. What should be remembered is that the most important thing is a nation’s life and their rights. Government should not forget those things and establish a policy for those deep issues.

There is a further problem which needs to be asked. That is the problem of the Japanese sense of entitlement. Historically, a revolution like a French Revolution and the Arab Spring have never happened in Japan. We have not experienced that we get any rights on our own. Also, Japanese are always called “People who do not say their opinions clearly and agree with other’s ideas” by foreign people. Indeed, we have a famous Japanese proverb that is “Deru kui ha utareru”. This means that a person who is different from other people is blamed. When we are child, Japanese have been educated following to this proverb. Because of those factors, we are always afraid of saying our opinions and do not think of what are our rights seriously. Therefore what seems to be lacking is a Japanese sense of entitlement.

As mentioned above, what is important in poverty is social security and sense of entitlement of citizens. Government has to care about citizens and people have to care about their rights and rise up against their dissatisfaction as well. Now, it is the time to improve our society. We have to think those problems deeply.

References

Seikatsuhogo genjo sitte [the present situation of livelihood protection] Asahi news paper digital Retrieved June 9, 2014 from http://www.asahi.com/articles/CMTW1405091000001.html

Syakaihosyokyufuhi no kokusaihik haiku(OECD countries 2009)[An international comparison of the cost of social security(OECD countries)] Retrieved September 30, 2013 from http://www2.ttcn.ne.jp/honkawa/2798.html

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