Struggles of living in Japan on minimum wage

English: Homeless man, Tokyo. Français : Un sa...

English: Homeless man, Tokyo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Teppei Funatani

In my opinion, if people live poor lives, there are three steps that they have to overcome.

First, uneasiness for my future. Living in Japan costs a lot of money. Food, rent, medical expenses, and so on. Also we should pay about 15,000 yen every month for a pension when we reach 20 years old. How do I manage my everyday life if I can only earn minimum wage?

In the article “Homeless face uphill fight to get life back,” a man who was in his mid-40s worked for a data management company as a temporary worker and earned only 160,000 yen a month. He lived alone and had no hope for his future. As this article tells you, if you live hand-to-mouth, there is no room in your mind to think about your future. You can barely support yourself and this vicious circle probably never ends unless a miracle happens.

Next, apathy of my life. Let’s imagine that even though you work as hard as you can, you can only get the lowest salary yen a day and you cannot get a bonus. It is likely that you will lose interest your job and don’t want to work anymore. It is natural that you complain about your lower salary, although you work as long as white-collared workers do. However, you soon realize that your dissatisfaction does not bring you anything and you have no choice but to give up.

Finally, a sense of despair for everything. As above, you feel anxiety for your future at first, and next you give up having hope. And you come to the final stage of your poor life. As Anne Allison said in her book Precarious Japan, because of depression and insecurity over jobs, the number of people who commit suicide has remained around 30,000 ever since 1998 (2013). The number of unemployment was 2,460,000 people in March, 2014 (Statistics Bureau, May 5, 2014). Even in large companies, a lot of employees are fired. It is easy to imagine that you lose your job and be homeless. This idea gradually is damaging your heart and you think that your hopes for the future come to nothing. Then you decide to commit suicide.


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

Homeless face uphill fight to get back life. (May 20, 2014). Retrieved from

Labour Force Survey, Monthly Result-March 2014-. (May 2, 2014). Retrieved from

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Saving 10,000: Winning a War on Suicide in Japan

by Robert Moorehead

Film description from ““:

In a war on suicide, who is the enemy? ‘Saving 10,000′ is the story of an Irishman’s personal passion to uncover the true causes of the high suicide rate in Japan. The disturbing findings include the Japanese media`s perverse love affair with suicide, a variety of cruel and predatory economic pressures and an outdated and failing mental health care system. With the help of front-line experts and ordinary Japanese, many touched by the horror of suicide, the movie delivers practical proposals on how Japan can win a war on suicide. However with suicide such a taboo, the odds are nobody will listen. Or will they?

Saving 10,000 – Winning a War on Suicide in Japan” is a 52-minute documentary directed by Rene Duignan and filmed by Marc-Antoine Astier. Unusually for a small low budget documentary, “Saving 10,000″ has attracted a lot of media interest with Rene giving over 30 interviews to date. The movie also sparked interest from politicians with DVD requests from a Minister and Vice-Minister and a screening was held at the Japanese Parliament. Rene has had the privilege of sharing his ideas in a meeting with the Suicide Prevention Unit of the Cabinet Office. After the high profile Japanese media coverage, a large amount of screening requests have been coming from all over Japan. Due to huge public interest and the extreme urgency of raising suicide awareness in Japan, Rene has made the decision to release the full movie online for free. Please note DVDs will be provided free of charge to any organisation/university/NGO that would like to hold a public screening.

Rene will endeavor to fulfill as many speaking requests as is feasible for a “film director” with a day job.

Requests and enquiries to