From precarious Japan to secure Denmark?

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

After reading some parts of Allison’s book, my view about Japan changed. I was thinking of getting a job in Japan after graduating from my university, without a doubt.

Actually, perhaps I can get a good job to some extent because Japan is gakureki shakai (if you graduate from famous university, you are guaranteed to get a good job, to some extent) and my university is famous in Japan. Japanese companies, however, have some disadvantageous aspects such as overwork, less holidays, lack of labor unions, and so on. Also, according to Allison, Japanese society is precarious. For example, relationless, and high rate of suicide. Sometimes I also feel these problems Allison mentioned, so these precarious affect my life plan.

Just then, I learned that Nordic societies are very different from Japan. There are high tax rates, high welfare, and everyone is guaranteed to have life that people should have. Denmark especially is famous for being the happiest country in the world ( People in Denmark do not need to pay money from elementary school to university, and for medical costs. And after retirement, they are guaranteed to have enough pension to live a life. This society is very opposite to Japanese precarious society.

The sense of well being is also different from Japanese to Danish. According to Aya Omoto, Danish put their happy on everyday life. They feel happy for the things we tend to be matter of course, such as talking with friends, having food, being healthy. To the contrary, it might be said that we Japanese tend to feel happy for being superior to other people, having much amount of money, and working hard to get fame. For this reason I strongly come to be interested in Danish society because I like a sense of well-being. Danish have.

Living and working abroad became one of the way to live a happy life for me, however, there is a saying : The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. If I were born in a Nordic country, I might think that I wanted to be born in Japan, and vice versa. It can be said that there are no perfect countries in the world, and there are absolutely some bad points. For these reasons, I might get a job in Japan and want to work in many countries through a Japanese company, and in this mean my ibasho can be said to be the earth itself, and I want to make relationship in the world.

Family, work, and security

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 secure. Although Japan is in a precarious condition now, I would like to live with getting along with people around me. I show my future expectation from three points. First, I talk about having a family. Second, I will get a general enterprise 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 in my late-twenties to thirty because I would like to work in the society, not depend on the income of my husband, and support each other in the family. And I will have up to two children because bringing up a child costs a 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, declining salaries. Moreover, I may have no time to take care of my children due to working, because Japan does not have sufficient circumstance that women can manage both of 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 easier for women to do that in the future. If the condition is improved, the overall social trends will change for the better.

Second of all, I desire that I get an enterprise as regular worker which secures my welfare. According to Anne Allison, the wage disparity between regular and irregular employment exists in Japan. Although being hired as a regular worker is good, removing the disparity is the best. My finding a job may be difficult, as Anne Allison wrote, it is harder for youth to get a job because companies tend to hire senior workers. This is 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 neighbors in order to prevent solitary death, and have my family look after me when I age. My ibasho arises in such relationship. 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 ny family and I hope that Japan become the place which women can more easily do both job and childcare.


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

Clear visions of a precarious 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.

by Takashi Nakai

In the first class, when the professor asked me what I want to be, I must have answered that I have no idea. However, as I joined in this class and discuss the contents with some classmates there, I think that I need to have a clear vision of my life, because as I read Anne Allison’s Precarious Japan, I learned a lot from the current precariousness of Japan.

I will start to think the expectations of my work. The author says that there are large numbers of irregular workers in Japan. They have a high risk of being cut off as regular workers. Also, today even if you can be a regular worker, many people might have an uncomfortable impression on their working conditions. One of this is that some workers are forced to work hard beyond their working time. It is not until I knew these facts that I would like to be a regular worker in the office and when I have to choose what kind of work I would do in the future, I should have no mistake of choosing the office.

According to this book, the author writes about the current relationships of Japan. I begin to think from this what I want to be about them. Today there are many cases that people meet the end of his or her own life. Especially, this situation may apply to the elderly who live alone because of the lack of the relationships around the community and their family. When I read or listen to these facts, I strongly hope to avoid the unknown dead. To do it, I might have to have a family of mine and have children and grandchildren. Add to this, I should have the good relationships of the community, for example: office, family, friends, neighborhood, and so on. In the various kinds of categories, I should have what the term “ibasho” expresses.

I will make the conclusion about the expectations of mine. After graduating from this university, I may well enter the office and continue to work for long years of my life without the special reasons. On the other hand, needless to say, it is difficult for me to get some job which I am eager to, due to the recession of this society. After all, I think it is essential for me to make many kinds of experiences.

Gender Equality in Work Place Will Protect Japanese Economy

by Eriko Maruyama

The Japanese society is facing serious economic problems, such as stagnant GDP growth, aging population, raising unemployment rates. In response to these issues, the Japanese government is now trying to encourage women to enter the labour market. The employments of women in Japan are around 60 percent, while those of men are 80 percent (OECD). The Economist magazine (2012) estimated that if this gap of employment rates were improved, GDP of Japan would grow at 9 percent by 2020. As this statistic suggested, it is important to promote women to enter the labour market. In order to achieve this, we need to create new working environment which enables men and women to reconcile their jobs and housework. It is important to target not only women but also men, because the problem of gender is not only about women. It is a problem of both men and women.

Firstly, we need to start with remaking of system of companies. Companies should allow employees to work flexibly. For example, we can work everywhere with high tech devices today. We do not need to go to companies any more. We can have meetings in different places thorough Internet, or we can share documents on web clouds. Thus, companies have become less important places. If employee could do their job at home, they could finish housework and do childcare at the same time.

Nevertheless, still we need to go to work places, especially for people who work for factories and service sector. Therefore, it is necessary to create places which take care of children. There are not enough number of nursery schools and kindergarten in Japan now, so many mothers give up their job and engage in childcare. I would suggest that employing the retired people as carers of children. It is estimated that one of four people would be over 60 by 2030 in Japan, and as we can see, the elderly is very active after retirement. If it was encouraged to employ these active grandparent for taking care of children, parents could engage in their jobs and also the elderly could stay healthy. It is a win-win relation. If the government pushed women into labour force without enough support, women would be blamed for neglecting housework, and this would promote women’s returning to home again. In order to prevent this phenomenon, it is important to enhance the childcare systems.

In short, in order to sustain economic growth in Japan, it is necessary to create more flexible working environment which enables more people to enter labour market. At the same time, the government should implement social policies and provide more childcare systems in order for parents to focus on their jobs. It is expected for government to see gender issue as the interconnected problem of both women and men.


OECD (n.d.). OECD Better Life Index Japan. Retrieved from

The Economist (2012). The Contribution of Women. Retrieved from