Establishing economic and human relationships

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.

Anonymous student post

There are two aspects when I consider my future plan: one is about job and economic situation, and the other is about family and human relationship. Firstly I will focus on my work plan, and secondly I will explain my family plan.

I am thinking of becoming a journalist as a full-time worker, which means I have to do job hunting. However finding a job is becoming more difficult these days because of the deep depression and irregular employment problem. Therefore, I am considering two ways to realize my dream. One way is to do job hunting while I am a university student, and the other way is to go to a graduate school, study more about journalism and do job hunting. I have already decided which company I would like to work for as a regular employee, so I do not really care the process to get in the company. Actually, the Japanese present economic situation has affected my decide of a company. These days, it is usual for women to get job and work even after they get married and give birth, so I will work as long as possible.

My second topic is about my family plan in the future. Since I am going to take care of my parents when they get old, I have to live with my parents or live close to my parent’s house. This decision may make it difficult for me to find a partner, but I want to get married with a person who has a regular job and have my first baby before I am thirty, when I have enough energy to take care of the baby. I will share the housework with my husband, as both of us will continue to work. I may have to go back to work in one year or so after giving birth, but I will try to make time to spend with family. It is said that the connection between family is becoming weaker and actually the similar thing is happening to my family now, so I want to keep the family relationship good and strong. I want to make home as each family member ibasho, the place which everyone want to come back and feel comfortable. No matter how difficult it is to keep balance of work and housework, I will try hard to live a happy life.

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Future plans get complicated in precarious Japan

Partial three-quarter right front view of a cl...

Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 Natsuki Nakasone

Now, I am a nineteen-year-old student at Ritsumeikan University. If everything goes well, I will graduate in three years. However, I need another two years in order to get a license since I would like to become a kindergarten teacher. Therefore, in my future plan, I will go to another school while working at a company, and then I will become a teacher. This plan seemed easy to realize, but there are several problems which are affected by the precariousness of Japan.

First, recently, the rate of non-regular employees has been increasing. As Anne Allison said, after the Bubble, many temporary workers played important roles in high economic growth in Japan. This employment system has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that it is able to post employees when they are needed. However, the disadvantage is that it also becomes an issue of public concern. There is a possibility that temporary workers will be fired all of a sudden. Therefore, they cannot have a stable life.

Next, the number of children has been decreasing, because the number of people who remain unmarried has been increasing. As a result of this, the demand for nursery school teachers and kindergarten teachers is decreasing, and it is not sure whether I can get an ideal job.

In addition, in Japan women can get fewer jobs than men, because there has been a stereotype that men work outside of the house and women work in the house. Even if some women are fortunate enough to get a job, they often have to leave their jobs to raise their children. In my plan, I would like to have two children, and I might be in similar circumstances. In this precarious Japan, it is difficult to realize my dreams and live an ideal life.

Lastly, I would like to mention a little bit about my ibasho. I think my ibasho is my family, so, since I am still a teenager, an ibasho for me has always been provided by others. However, in the future, I will have to find it for myself. Therefore, it is important for me to get married and to have children in order to create my new ibasho.

As you can tell from what I have mentioned, to get both ibasho and ideal work is not easy in my case. Thinking about this tells me that I am living in precarious Japan.

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Avoiding becoming a Christmas cake

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 Yuri Muramatsu

In the future, living in Japanese society may become much more severe. As Allison mentioned in her book, Japan has a lot of issues that have huge effects on our future.

First of all, Allison argued that Japanese became muen shakai (relation less society). I have some anxiety for this muen shakai situation. There is possibility that I will suffer a solitary death. I also have suspicions about Japan’s society.

First, I do not want to get married if I am over 25 years old. If I would be a “Christmas cake,” I would abandon some hope for marriage. In my opinion, I cannot be a mother if I am over 25 years old because it is difficult to raise children.

There are two main reasons. The age of 25 years and over is the important age to stabilize the position in the company that the time to be entrusted with important tasks. I do not want to miss this chance. Moreover, if I get married after the age of 25, I will give birth after the age of 26. This means I would have to take a maternity leave after 26, and that I would go back to company after 27 or over. However, taking maternity leave is difficult sometimes. This is the second reason. If I married someone over 25 years old, I would not have a chance to have children. I cannot believe this system.

In addition, it is unfair that the men should work and earn money while women should protect the family. Allison indicates that Japanese people tend to make this style of family. Women should be housewives and men should work and earn money. On the other hand, I want to continue working all through my life, even if the company tries to cut me because I am a woman.

I would like to get a job that has relationship with the Japanese social insurance system. I think Japan faces ikizurasa (difficulty of living) now, so I am happy if I could relieve this feeling. I believe that social insurance system can change Japan. Japanese society does not have a good system to support people in need. This situation directly connects ikizurasa.

That is why I want to get a job that can be changing the severe situation of Japan. Many people feel ikizurasa. I do not want to be a housewife but at the same time I would like to cherish human relationships to prevent falling into a muen shakai situation. I think my ibasho will be my local town, friends and work.

Although Japanese society may getting more worse in the future, I want to fight against an unfair society and rebuild a new system. At the same time I try to value opportunities for communication.

 

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Balancing plans for work, travel, and family

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 Arisa Kato

My future plan starts from now. My dream is to take a job at a travel agency because I love traveling and encountering foreign cultures. Therefore, I’ve been studying for a certification of travel consultant. It is one of national qualifications in Japan and this requirement would help me to get regular job in the tourist industry. I don’t want to be haken (contract worker) while I’m single because I desire to make my work place my ibasho. So I need something strong to win the job hunting. In addition to study for the qualification, I will go Spain and Mexico to study Spanish while I’m a university student. Not only studying the language, I’d like to learn culture and tourism of Spain and Latin America.

After I get a job successfully, I will work as a tour conductor. I will guide travelers in Japan and all over the world. Even more, I have been thinking of making a plan that participants can experience daily lives in the countries. So I’m also interested in organizing tours.

In my plan, I will get married around thirty. It is because I want at least two children. If I could, I will have three. I wish the first is a girl. This is because girls tend to take care their younger brothers and I hope for going shopping and a café with my daughter someday like me and my mother. While the children are little, I might take a rest from or quit my job to bring my sons and daughters. I think family must be the most comfortable ibasho for children and mothers have responsibility for making pleasant ibasho for their families. Therefore I’ll be concentrate on housework and mothering.

After children grow up, maybe when they go on to junior high school, I want to return to working. If there is a chance, perhaps I may return to a travel agency. However, it can be useful to be a haken. Although it is irregular working and insecure, part time jobs usually allow workers to choose the time when they work. So I can adjust a schedule to suit other private events and appointments. From this point, irregular work is good for people who have plans in their private lives.

After I get older, I’d like to live in countryside. If I may be allowed to wish so much, I desire to live abroad. Anyway, I would like to find good partner who apprehend me well because there are so many things I want to do.

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Enjoying work and family

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 Yuri Kamino

I have not made a concrete plan about what I’m going to do in the future, but I vaguely imagine that in the fourth year I will fight against the glacial age of hiring, work for a company, marry someone, have babies, raise them and in the latter half, I will live a slow life with my husband, many grandchildren and dogs.

Job hunting is waiting for us and as many classmates have said, it becomes more difficult to get good work without enough knowledge. For university students, I think it is quite natural to hope to find good or top-rank work and live a better life because it costs a lot to go a university, so they desire to get work that corresponds to the money they have spent. However, personally I think it is not necessarily important to be employed in what is called a first-class company. Of course I want to get a better job, but for me, it is more essential whether I can enjoy the job at the company and handle both a career and raising children.

I have two points for my job hunting. One is that can the company be my ibasho. These days, the number of people who work oneself to death is increasing. More and more “kaisha-man or woman” sacrifice their holidays and private time. They also suffer from stress among their companies. I don’t think these situations can never be my ibasho. Maybe I will relate to the company for a long time, so I wish to keep a good relations with them.

The other point is that whether the company has a sufficient system for women to concentrate on both their job and childcare. Today, more and more women are doing great things in society, but there are still many companies which treat them as less important because they tend to retire from their jobs or take long vacations when they marry and give birth. As established by law, we can take childcare leave until our child reaches the age of 1. However under these companies, I could not pay much attention to my child. I strongly hope to build family with boundless love and wish it can be ibasho for my children.

I think that for children, family is the most important and for me, a job is essential to live more worthy life so, I am eager to seek for a way which I can meet both.

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Balancing work and family in future Japan

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 Tomomi Hosokawa

I want to work with taking care of my children in the future. This is because I want to let my children challenge anything they have interest, as my parents let me do. For example, when I was an elementary school student, I was taking four kinds of lessons, shodo, piano, tennis and cram school. I continued them until I graduated from elementary school, about six years. I appreciate my parents giving me the opportunity to have good experiences.

However, my family is not so rich, so both my parents are working. My mother is working so hard and she is very busy, but when I was sick in bed, she took me to the hospital and nursed me. I believe that she could do so thanks to the system of the company she works on. She works in a division in which all of the workers are women. In addition, most of them have children. They know how hard housework and taking care of children are. Therefore, when something happen to children, other workers help their mother, and she can go to see children, like my experience. Instead, when other person cannot work, she helps her.

According to Allison, the difference between men and women on salary or position of job is obvious. However, this situation is changing in the future. Women will have more opportunities to be promoted, but this also means women may be away from home. Of course, children will still need someone to care for them, so if both of parents have to work, they may give up either having children or better circumstances. If I will be in the same situation, I may give up having children because I do not know whether I will have enough money to take care of my children. I think it is irresponsible to have children in that situation. In order to prevent this, I believe the system like the company my mother is working for is useful. Of course, enough coverage like childcare leave for both women and men or no indiscriminate of position or salary to who have children is necessary, taking this future circumstance into consideration. However, I think only the coverage is not enough. I hope to have a good workplace environment. If there is a system for workers who have children to support each other, like my mother’s, we can feel relieved because we can control the job flexibly for children. Also, because there are many workers who have the same situation as us, we can understand that other workers go home before the work is out or absence. Also, we can cover the absence on the other day when other person cannot work. These matters can remove anxiety about being looked coldly. There are many cases that such workers were blamed by their co-workers. I believe both monetary and mental support are needed in this society.

Reference

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

Free style life in liquid Japan

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 Maya Hattori

Graduating university, surviving the job-hunting, getting a firm job, becoming a mature shakaijin, getting married and having kids… this is the typical scenario that Japanese think to be success in life. However, this does not apply to me. I will view my future focusing on two topics – work and having a family.

First, I still do not have any concrete plans what to become or in what kind of field to dedicate myself. However, the typical Japanese job-hunting seems ridiculous to me. Some people, indeed, get their top choice jobs. However, recently, as the job hunting is getting more and more competitive, many people have to get through interviews with over hundred companies until they are hired. This means they no longer have a choice what kind of jobs they want, which leads to depression, frustration or leaving the company soon after they got hired. Moreover, dressed the same way and having the same hairstyle or doing things that seem to be helpful improving your images for the interviews also appears wrong to me. The pressure of the job hunting is killing our characters and ambitions. Therefore, at the moment, I am not thinking of becoming an employee of a usual company but pursuing what I like and trying to create a new business system or style. Though I may fail once or more, challenging keeps me from regretting. Due to the precariousness of Japan, I don’t expect any kind of stability anymore. Having a secure and long-term job may be stable and secure, however, being flexible and changeable seems more exciting, challenging and interesting. For example, some friends of mine are furitā and change their jobs a lot, but still have fun and know their identities and what they want to do. Therefor, I think it is not correct to see them as losers or not-shakaijin. Moreover, I think my job scene does not have to be in Japan.

Next, I may get married at some point in the future, if I want to. However, I don’t like the pressure that Japanese give to unmarried women who are getting older. Moreover, getting married because of pregnancy is the last thing I want to do. My ideal style is to have a partner with whom I can share a part of my life but still pursue my own dreams and live my life – vice versa. After having children, I still don’t think that marriage should be hurried. I can get married at any age but I can’t have children if I’m too old. People who get married too young or with a feeling of responsibility tend to get divorced. When you have children and live with a partner, you never have the risk to get divorced anyway.

As Allison says, there is nothing stable or secure anymore in this country. Therefore, I think it is the best to make the most and live for the moment. The future does not guarantee you anything. I would like to create my life without considering the risks or what others say.

Family communication and gender equality

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 Hitoshi Haruki

In this class, I’m reading Precarious Japan by Anne Allison, and I was surprised at the many problems in Japan. In this book, it was established that there will be many problems in Japan in the future such as hikikomori, the rise of people who do a part-time job and do not work as a full-time employee, and dying alone. I would like to consider Japan’s future in this post.

First of all, Allison says that dying alone is one of the most severe problems in Japan. I think there are a lot of causes of dying alone. Especially when people have weak connections. Due to the spread of the Internet, people have imaginary friends. They make friends on the Internet. They always stay home and use the Internet. They cannot do face-to-face communication. They cannot even communicate with their family and do not have strong connection which lead to dying alone. The solution of this problem is that people have more opportunities to do face-to-face communication. To prevent dying alone, it is important to communicate with one’s own family. For example, people should always have a meal with their family and talk about their daily lives. If I get married, I will keep in mind the importance of face-to-face communication. I want to live in a loving home.

Allison also mentions there is the problem of women’s status. In Japan people thought men were to work for a company while women were to do housework in the past. This tendency still remains in some measure. For example it is easier for men to work as a full-time worker than women because many women are likely to cease work when they get married. Married women are expected to raise talented children whom will have graduated from a high level university, so they have to devote themselves to raise their children. In my opinion, not only women should raise children but also men should as well because men are also responsible for raising children. Moreover, raising children is hard labor, so men should help women. For example, when men take the day off, they take care of the children. In my plan, if I have children, I want to work together with my wife.

In conclusion, I want to have strong connections with people and have a loving home. To reach this, I should try to achieve a high level of face-to-face communication. Furthermore, when raising children, women should not only be the one to raise children, but men should also help as well because raising children is very difficult. Personally I think our future is bright, though there are still many problems we will have to face in the future.

References

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

I have no concrete plans for my future

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.

Anonymous student post

I don’t have any concrete future plans now. But 15 years ago, I had many dreams. For example, cake shops, bakery, and teachers. I don’t have a definite dream now. But I have many things I want to do. I want to go abroad and live there, to be rich woman, and to be mother. More than anything, I want to be happy. I like people smiling, especially my friends, my family, and people around me. Their smiling and laughing make me happy, too. I want to be a person who can make people happy, however, this is not a concrete dream.

However, I do not think that I am the only person who cannot find a concrete dream. This applies to many young people. I think many young people in Japan do not have some expectations because they, like me, aren’t able to see the future of Japan. Moreover, recently, Japanese society became like mechanized. Life in Japan seems to be already cast for Japanese families. Mothers should make foods, clean rooms, and do housework. Fathers ought to go to big cities to work, make money, and support their family. And their children should study, and their future, they will ought to work or do housework to support their family. Children tend to have  “one aim” that “they should choose”. Young people are likely to think that this “one aim” is the safest of all to live in Japan. I think these castings  deprive Japanese people of the opportunity to have a dream, too. This system will make people to bother to think about everything, and for example, increase hikikomori more and more.

Then, how we find our dreams? How we have any aims? I think that we should change the mechanized system in Japan. To change this system, Japanese young people’s ambitions to study not for their family or their safety, but for their desire what they want to do should be supported. University students in Japan seem to think that this course of study is not course they really want to study. This problem often happens because many of them only “studied to enter a college that is clever or famous”. If these people have “their own aim”, these problems will decrease and Japanese society and economy will grow. In conclusion, we should change Japanese plans (this is not official, but reality) that all children must study hard, and all children must go to college to work in the future.

I don’t have any concrete future plans now. But maybe I can find my original dream because I was able to awaken that goal. I want to enjoy to find dream, and want to have many dreams like in my childhood.

Seeking security and social relationships

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 Natsuki Ota

I hope that I will spend my life with enough money in the city, and I can have a family and a particular job with security. Although Japan is in a precarious condition now, I would like to live by getting along with people around me. I show my future expectation with three points. First, I talk about having a family. Second, I will get a general job and take a stable salary. Third, I expect relationships with people for my bright life. I desire that I get a regular job and have a connection with people including family.

To begin with, I will marry a man who can earn a stable salary from my late-twenties to thirty because I would like to work in society, and not depend on the income of my husband, and have both of us support our family. And I will have up to two children because bringing up a child costs plenty of money. It is difficult to earn enough money to take care of many children in such a bad economic condition, for example rising taxes, and declining salaries. Moreover, I may not have time to take care of my children due to my work, because Japan does not have sufficient circumstance so women can manage both working and childcare. My plan almost refers to Anne Allison’s vision: “The overall social trends are away from marriage and family” (Anne Allison, 2013, P.33). Therefore, I hope that Japan can become a society in which it is easy for women to do that in the future. If the condition is improved, the overall social trends will change better.

Second of all, I desire that I get a job as a regular worker with secure welfare. According to Anne Allison, the wage disparity between regular and irregular employment exists in Japan. Although being hired as regular one is good, removing the disparity is the best. My finding job may be difficult. As Anne Allison wrote, it is hard for youth to get a job because companies tend to hire senior workers. This has a big influence on me because I heard about my acquaintance’s hard job hunting.

Finally, I make connections with people such as family and neighbor in order to prevent solitary death, and have my family look after me when I age. My ibasho arises in such relationships. In my opinion, ibasho is the space and place which needs me, so workplace and family is my ibasho.

In conclusion, the current Japanese unstable situation has a big impact on our future. In particular, the bad economy leads to various problems, such as rising taxes, reducing wages, and even family style. So I will work hard to support my family and I hope that Japan become the place which women can do more easily both job and childcare.

Reference

Anne Allison (2013). Precarious Japan. Duke University Press. (pp. 1-42)