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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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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