And people will say the No. This may seem surprising in Japan, a country where the economy is currently humming along, and the unemployment rate is below 3 percent. But the shrinking economic opportunities stem from a larger trend that is global in nature: the rise of unsteady employment.
Such temporary workers are counted as employed in government statistics. Only about 20 percent of irregular workers are able to switch over to regular jobs at some point in their career. Then, as globalization put more pressure on companies to cut costs, they increasingly relied on a temporary workforce, a trend that intensified during the Great Recession.
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In a culture that places such an emphasis on men being breadwinners, this has serious implications for marriage and childbearing. About 30 percent of irregular workers in their early 30s are married, compared with 56 percent of full-time corporate employees, according to Kingston.
Women seeking full-time work frequently find themselves in irregular jobs too, which also has implications for raising a family, because the hours are unpredictable and the pay is low. While in Tokyo, I visited an event put on by Zwei, a matchmaking company.
Dozens of women clustered in a small studio to take a cooking class featuring food from Miyazaki Prefecture, in southern Japan.
The event was part of an initiative that Zwei was putting on to make women interested in life—and men—outside of Tokyo. I also visited the office of POSSE, a group formed by college graduates who wanted to create a labor union for young people.
Everyone else, he said, is struggling. That phrase has since become a buzzword in Japan. A group of journalists and labor advocates now issue a Burraku Kigyo of the Year award for the company that treats its workers the worst. InSeven-Eleven Japan won the honors.
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Many are so stressed they can barely function. The company advertised itself as a great place to work, but Matsubara, who was a wrestler in college, told me it soon became evident that it was anything but. Though company employees left work at 7 p.
Employees were required to off at 7 p. This lifestyle made dating impossible.
The closest he got to women, he said, was when his boss would drag him to cabaret clubs, and then make him pick up the tab. After a year, the long hours and stress started to affect his health. Matsubara had trouble sleeping, and started hearing voices.
He fell into a depression, he said, because the experience he had expected from a regular job and his own experience were so different. Eventually, he suffered a nervous breakdown. Daiwa House did not return a request for comment. Matsubara is now living on welfare.
He estimated that out of the people who started with him at Daiwa House, have quit. Of course, Japan is not unique in having workers who say they feel abused and overworked by their employers. But a few things differentiate Japan from the United States and other developed economies.
People who complain about working long hours may not find much sympathy from friends and family members, let alone the government.
Finally, Japan is a country in which labor unions are weak, and often focus on collaborating with companies and preserving the good jobs that do exist, rather than fighting on behalf of all workers, according to Konno.
The U. A government labor-reform panel has proposed capping the of overtime hours that companies could legally require people to work at per month. And this year, for the first time, the Japanese government has also published a list of more than companies that have violated labor laws, hoping that publicly shaming companies will make them change their ways. But overall, the Abe administration is pro-business and anti-regulation, and according to Kingston, of Temple, few of its reforms led to any real change.
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Many of those pledges focus on helping women better balance work and family, which is certainly part of the problem. Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword.
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