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  • On the cannibalistic NJ labor market in Japan: short essay

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 22nd, 2009

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    Hi Blog. Felt inspired this morning by the pretty unproductive (if not downright nasty) comments Roy received to his post yesterday regarding his allegations of unfair treatment at the hands of a Japanese subsidiary of a US legal firm.

    ON THE CANNIBALISTIC NJ LABOR MARKET IN JAPAN

    One tendency I’ve noticed in the NJ marketplace of ideas (the one inspired by the marketplace of labor everyone must experience; for without a job, you generally cannot even legally stay in Japan) is that people are not terribly helpful to one another. The responses to Roy’s post yesterday reconfirmed that.

    He made the case that he received unfair, discriminatory treatment in the workplace as a NJ. However, respondents’ tone was often, “What did you expect?” They blamed it either on the state of the Japanese job market (where discrimination happens either to NJ in specific or across the board anyway), or blamed Roy himself — for being too trusting (as if it’s his fault for taking people at their word), or even for being too “combative” just because he was trying to pin people to their word.

    Think about this dynamic, folks. This is counterproductive in a very serious way. In that, instead of trying to assist a person crying out for help, we’re assigning blame to him for being in that situation in the first place. Kinda like seeing somebody cross the street at a crosswalk, and getting hit by a car that promised to stop at crosswalks, then blaming him for being in the way of the car in the first place. He shouldn’t have left himself open for that. He shouldn’t have been a sucker to believe that a corporation would follow its own rules.

    That’s the thing. Japan itself as a system doesn’t even have clear traffic rules. According to NHK about a month ago (I haven’t confirmed this for myself, so I haven’t written about this until now), Japan has not signed a single international labor treaty safeguarding the rights of workers. Laborers in this country are in a singular position in the developed-country labor market in that they have few rights (contracts defy what’s espoused in labor law and courts rule in the contractor’s favor regardless, labor arbitration councils make nonbinding rulings, even the right to equal salary despite gender is not backed up by punitive law). The only right they have is to unionize. And that requires cooperation amidst employees.

    But instead of cooperation, we’re seeing (especially in the NJ labor market) the NJ refusing to help each other. They take the attitude of, “Well, it happened to me, I went through it. So should you.” or “It’s not your country anyway, so go home if you get a raw deal here.” or “It’s how the system works, it’s economics, politics, whatever.” Anything but preserving the dignity of the individual and saying, “That’s awful. I’ll spread the word that this place is to be avoided.”

    Dignity is a hard concept to define (and most people find it too taxing to enforce, especially since they believe hard knocks is what toughened them up), but without it, humans revert to animalistic — even cannibalistic — tendencies very quickly. We eat our young. Yes, a hard knock or two will wizen people up from naivete. But too many hard knocks will just make them mean.

    And this meanness permeates the NJ job market. “If something bad happened to you, it’s probably your fault. You were information poor and shouldn’t have been. You were culturally insensitive and brought it upon yourself. What did you expect? You shouldn’t have come to Japan in the first place.”

    Why not try being more supportive and positive? I have tried to do my bit over the decades. The Blacklist of Japanese Universities. The Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants. Debito.org. Lessons I’ve learned to make sure people avoid the pitfalls I fell into, and make a better life here. Anyone can do that. Anyone should. Promote the dignity of the individual rather than the cannibalistic collective. Because whatever you put into the pool of communal experiences, be they supportively informative or negatively discouraging, will eventually come back to affect you and your life here in Japan with interest.

    I suggest people go down the first path. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    22 Responses to “On the cannibalistic NJ labor market in Japan: short essay”

    1. Doug Says:

      Hey there Debito-san

      Your point of view is constructive and well taken.

      However – Sorry I do not feel the same way about the comments. Perhaps a couple were non productive but I found most objective and honest. I believe most that posted will tell others to avoid Ernst and Young (I will) and I did not see anybody “eating the young”. However most posters believe another approach may be in order.

      It seems most agreed with Roy’s underlying position and supported it but also pointed out some things he could have done better as well.

      I do not see a meanness in the NJ job market (although I am not in education so the field may be different there) – I have typically seen more cooperation and willingness to help as expats in Japan tend to be drawn closer together due to the difficulty of developing relationships with Japanese. I have had relationships with other foreigners in Japan that I would never have had back home.

      I have also had other gaikokujin take me out over a beer and give me some honest feedback and advice. Their advice was often on the mark as they were not emotionally attached to the situation. Maybe the internet in some cases is not the right forum (Roy if you like beer and are in Kansai I will buy you one sometime) as the comments may come out a bit colder than intended as some of the necessary senses for good communication are not used on the net (cannot see or hear the voice of the responder).

      Finally I think dignity also requires honest, constructive feedback in a non patronizing way and I feel this is what most posters were trying to achieve.

      I think most folks tried to assist Roy (with advice).

      Anyway just my 10 YEN on your post and as stated before your points are well taken but I think most posters meant well and were offering their honest opinion.

      Keep up the good work and I think most people support what you do and also agree with Roy’s underlying premise.

      – Thanks Doug. I agree. I was also referring to a lot of nasty comments I didn’t let through. Again, it’s not just regarding Roy’s situation. I see a lot of ugliness and noncooperation in the NJ communities. I’m very much a target for these types of people, as one well might imagine.

    2. sendaiben Says:

      Very nicely put. I agree ;)

    3. Jcek Says:

      I always find it discouraging when someone gets cheated, and people blame the victim. It’s even more troubling that even though most of the people are in the same situation with experiencing unequal treatment that they can’t cooperate, or even agree on what is fair.

      Foreigners in Japan always seem annoyed by group accountability, yet the same people throw around cliche Japanese proverbs about nails sticking out. If foreigners did work together a lot of progress could come of it.

    4. jjobseeker Says:

      I too have experienced some of the odd non-rules in the Japanese labor market, and have been unlucky enough to be caught up in some of its “trends” (haken). There’s a reason for my moniker. Though my experiences have not been obliquely negative, I certainly sympathize with those who have had negative experiences mainly because it could have easily happened to me. Fortunately, I have met good people and good businesses that do the right thing despite the fact that they are not legally required to.
      And how do things get as bad as they have? Because people shrug their shoulders and say, “It’s not my problem” or “It’s so-and-so’s fault” or “That’s the way it is, accept it or leave.” This goes for Japanese as well as NJ. Well, standing around while things are getting out of hand is certainly not the answer. In any instance, the more a problem is ignored, the worse the problem gets-this is true in any situation. And even if this isn’t “your country” the plight of the Japanese worker ultimately affects you. Because if the businesses/labor market can get away with abusing with their own citizens, they’re certainly going to abuse NJ.

    5. Ken44 Says:

      While I agree with much of what was written above for me I’ve always asked myself is it worth living in Japan? And the answer pretty much has been yes. However, I’ve been teaching p/t at various J-universities for some years and have a good thing going but these days the future is anything but rosy for those like me. Still Japan is a great place to spend a few years and teaching English can pay the bills. Yet I certainly would warn against making it a career to anyone just starting out.

      Personally I just don’t think it’s worth the effort to try and change things and I’d opt to return to my own country and take it from there. As far as blaming the victim (gaijin) when they get shafted I too have sympathy esp. for those who have just arrived. On the other hand it became apparent to me after a few years that I was a disposable commodity so I’ve never really been disappointed by the Japanese because my expectations have never been very high.

      In the end I guess it depends a lot on why people want to stay. Although I like Japan and really don’t have much to complain about over the years if I weren’t making good money and didn’t have a great vacation schedule I probably would have left some time ago.

      – That’s a personal preference and that’s fine. What gets me is when people (many of whom, it turns out, don’t even live in Japan) sit in judgment of those who do. And it is not a positive or helpful judgment, as I wrote above. That’s what I mean by “mean”.

    6. TJJ Says:

      Debito, thanks for the short essay. I agree to a large extent with what you say. Although I have met many foreigners in Japan who have been very supportive of me and other foreigners trying to get by, I think what you say is by and large correct.

      I’m not entirely sure and I can’t give any data to support this, but just from observations I have made, the negativity towards other compatriots in Japan seems to be a very western trait. Chinese, Indians, Koreans, all seem to be able to work together and set up networks of support, find niches of income, and help out people from their own country. They seem to be able to work together in ways that westerners, for the most part, can’t or at least won’t.

      As an analogy, I guess you could look at the way Korean immigrants to the US band together and set up syndicates (for those who don’t own dictionaries, no, I don’t mean to imply illegal activity) for pooling money to start local enterprises, from which everyone in the syndicate eventually profits.

      It might be that some/many westerners don’t see themselves living in Japan for the long term and thus there is no reason to make any serious commitment to setting up a viable life here, whereas people who are escaping economic or political troubles do have a reason to take a long term view.

      I don’t have answers to any of the questions raised, but just wanted to put my thoughts out there.

      – I would agree. I would also say I feel that Western people raised in the Reagan Era (think yuppies and other economically-driven atomistic mindsets) and beyond are singularly mean. “Hey, I got mine, screw you if you ain’t got yours, buddy! No free lunches!” I don’t think I’ve ever seen people who cooperate less with each other than the Americans, from the USG on down… But there’s no way I can prove this quantitatively, so I’ll stop there.

    7. Ken44 Says:

      [i]It might be that some/many westerners don’t see themselves living in Japan for the long term and thus there is no reason to make any serious commitment to setting up a viable life here, whereas people who are escaping economic or political troubles do have a reason to take a long term view. [/i]

      I think you’re on target. My feeling is for many Westerners the standard of living in Japan isn’t necessarily any better (or worse) from where they came and so if it doesn’t pan out economically here they can always leave.

    8. Philip Adamek Says:

      The points are well taken by Debito, and I’m glad to see in Jcek’s comments that someone in addition to me is irritated by the frequent evocation among NJ of “nails sticking out” to explain their lives in Japan. It’s not so much that there is no kernel of truth to the proverb in some situations; it’s more the dogmatic way in which it is thrust forward.

      The larger point is this: I appreciate what Debito has done over the years, and I think many of his readers — and no doubt some of his detractors — have benefited from his efforts. It was only a few weeks ago that, spurred on by a discussion at this site, I finally took it upon myself to determine whether I was eligible for a share of the federal stimulus money, to cite the most recent example of practical help of the sort most of us are capable of providing one another.

      On a related note, has anyone noticed malevolent Japanese colleagues or acquaintances who try to stoke divisions among NJ? I have had the experience twice over some four years here. It’s likely that this behavior stems from their observing rivalries or ill-will that NJ had already cultivated among themselves. Since noticing this behavior, I have avoided the trap of regarding other NJ as rivals or of trying to show them up or put them down. Solidarity is often the strongest hand, and Debito is probably right about the fatal individualism of many Americans who do not cooperate with one another.

    9. DR Says:

      My informal and unscientific observations would have to agree on the “mean-ness” factor prevalent in some Caucasian sectors of the NJ community in Japan. The German word “Schadenfreude” sums it up for me. Translated it means “malicious delight.” Even to the simple things like saying, “Good morning.” I’ve often been coldly ignored by the recipient of my cheery greeting as if somehow I was spoiling his/her unique experience of Japan. We can hardly hope for the Japanese community to welcome us with open arms if we do not at least show some common decency and courtesy to others just like ourselves.

    10. Asterisk Says:

      Well, it’s really two things:

      For one, there is the general cheating that goes on in every labor market throughout the world. Assuming most employees are dealing fairly, the employer puts out one set of promises and then unilaterally changes the terms. And this goes beyond the typical buyer’s remorse when a job isn’t quite what it was billed as, to things like pay, hours, and benefits.

      Then, there is the deliberate cheating of NJ because of a relatively weak bargaining situation.

      What I find living here is that the unfair situations that the Japanese might face in the labor market tends to hit the NJ quite a bit more. A lot of it revolves around the notions of what is permanent and not permanent. Plus, the ideas of what is a contract in the West (common law countries, rather) and what is considered contract in Japan.

      NJ are routinely pushed into employment agreements that are limited (either haken roudousha or keiyaku sha’in with definite end date).

      This is troubling for many NJ to navigate, because we usually come from employment systems where there is no express guarantee of a job, but where you keep your job as long as you can adequately perform and the company is viable and meeting financial targets. Plus outside Japan, the labor markets are (absent a really bad recession) usually a bit more fluid. Except maybe in some European countries with chronically high unemployment, but then the social insurance benefits are better.

      So what happens routinely is that the rug that gets pulled from time to time from under the Japanese, is often pulled from NJ. And if you’ve seen this a couple of times, you really see the modus operandi, the way the Japanese do it. Usually it involves creating a friendly circumstance in the beginning, but sometime along the way putting a detailed contract in front of the employee and asking for a signature.

      The contract is going to:

      -contain a definitive end date, regardless of whatever is said about renewability

      -reference working rules and other regulations that you probably won’t ever be shown, but will have things that are disadvantageous to you. Your contract may be in English, but the working rules will be in Japanese.

      No one will explain that under the Japanese system, the weight of your signature is going to count FAR more than all of the side promises. Additionally, that you are going to be said to have “agreed” to all those detailed working rules. No matter what the verbal understandings were in the beginning about your terms.

      Like Debito points out, there is a bit of dog-eat-dog when the NJ are involved with each other. The sweet honey of business dealings between America, the rest of the West and Japan since the war have created, for lack of a better term, a Pacific Elite: a corporate, government, and military class that really doesn’t care if NJ are disadvantaged in employment relations. Their disinterest gets filtered down.

      The excuses are very well practiced, and they usually start with “why are you here anyway” which puts the NJ immediately on the defensive to justify why they are in the country. Japanese don’t have to do that in America, because the number of victims on this side of the Pacific is small.

      Like Debito says, there is some value in banding together. But even then, little will happen without describing exactly what is going on: NJ are shuttled into employment situations that the Japanese themselves reserve for workers who are being marginalized in the labor market. They are playing on Western preconceptions of contract and fair dealing. (And they know they are doing this, they’ve done it for years.) And the reliance on getting away with the individual cases is the fact that the Pacific Elite is essentially bought off.

      Ernst & Young isn’t going to worry about standards of employment fairness–their top guys in Tokyo are well taken care of. And the people they zap are just a small minority.

      The U.S. Embassy could care less. The long-time officials at the top there are working just as much for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the State Department. (But they will renew your passport if it’s expiring!)

      And as far as relying on the Japanese government itself, just read the headlines. They are all nervous how this election is going to pan out.

      People need the knowledge beforehand of what goes on in NJ employment scenes. They need to be willing to stand up for what is right, and they need to pressure institutions that can and should be helping to be more responsive to this problem.

    11. James Says:

      @TJJ and Ken44
      True and True. I wouldn’t say we are so much nomads but more rather we don’t feel any particular need to stay in a place long term. “Look after ourselves mentality.” “Go where things are best for us.” etc.

    12. john k Says:

      In general I whole heartily agree with the comments. However I would say that the situation here reminds of my parents and their lives.

      They were not British, but settled in the UK. They came from a very strong communist eastern block country. We would hear stories of how our relatives could not do X or Y, no freedom or civil rights etc and even when my mother was allowed to visit some 20 years after she fled, the strict tight controls were in existence everywhere.

      When faced with such a mountainous bureaucratic dictatorship style of Govt and all eyes watching, it is no wonder that after years of subjugation, its citizens feel “powerless”. I suspect the same is true of many NJs here. The “system”, no matter what “we” try, the ‘system’ steadfastly refuses to budge. After many years of this (when living here)and then talking about such issues with other NJs and hearing the same “system wont budge” story, it is no wonder that many slowly accept the inevitable; even though such action is diametrically opposite to one that would normally be taken by oneself. Hence “normal rules” of non-acceptance/action/change does not occur here, because our lone voice is lost and ignored and no one is listening/empathising anyway.

      I feel that the only real change, if any, that may occur, shall be when the elderly retired J-citizen wakes up and realises what has happened in their country now serious affects them. In this case i feel that the now or soon to be retired generation that was sold the line of “we’ll look after you for life”, will slowly gain momentum and become very rebellious. Without an internal call for change, i do not feel anything will happen, well, not at a pace ‘we’ would like and feel is necessary.

    13. Jcek Says:

      @Philip Adamek

      Yeah I don’t like when people use cliches as fuel to their arguments, as if one phrase defines a topic.

      I noticed that Japanese people in business love to watch foreigners bicker and whine about their situation. At the BOE (Board of Education) I work at they bring up topics that are obvious argument stimulators.

      It is especially irritating when management in Japan say they are going to say “pay for commutation expenses”, and then come back and say they will only pay “a maxium of 10,000 yen”. I think they found some entertainment in our reactions.

    14. Paul Says:

      I believe that there is a degree of truth to the criticism leveled in this article, and hope to benefit from it and try to be a bit nicer. Indeed Roy had faced a bad situation and is trying to put it right instead of just walking away and leaving the next person to suffer the same treatment. For this he is to be commended.

      These are trying times economically, and NJ here will feel the pain more intensely, if not sooner, than Japanese if only because NJ are generally more isolated and have fewer options to fall back upon. As such, we should strive to help each other as best we can.

      Maybe if there were a bit more activism from more of us, we could indeed make a positive impact.

    15. George Says:

      “According to NHK about a month ago (I haven’t confirmed this for myself, so I haven’t written about this until now), Japan has not signed a single international labor treaty safeguarding the rights of workers.”

      Oh jeez-zuz. I was just reading a comment on a different post where you were berating HO–quite rightly too–about not doing enough research and then I go and read something like this!

      Debito. While I often agree with the general thrust of your struggle, throwaway comments like that are simply red meat to the “hate Japan” crowd that hangs around your blog and really do discredit you as a reliable source in the eyes of people who are a little more informed. It took me all of a second or two to think “that can’t be right!” and all of three or four seconds to google “japan labor convention” and confirm that in fact, it isn’t.

      And please don’t pin this on NHK either. I hardly think that they would have made such a sweeping statement without doing a bit of fact-checking. Perhaps you misunderstood, but that is no excuse for slipping it onto your blog.

      – There was no misunderstanding. That’s what NHK said. It was a quick essay done in fifteen minutes about stuff that was on my mind. I admitted in the essay that I hadn’t checked it out for myself, and I appreciate the correction. Thanks.

      As for the so-called “hate Japan” crowd, I don’t let the comments of the most vicious and unfair through (believe you me, I’ve zapped some nasty ones). Nor do I those of the so-called “hate foreigners / hate ‘Japan haters’”. I don’t feel responsible for those who decide to feel a certain way about a subject. It’s not like I’m hypnotizing people.

      But if there be errors, point them out, as you have done. Thanks. If this affects my credibility, so be it. No source gets everything right 100% of the time. As Bertrand Russell said, he’d rather be fact-checked by a critic than a supporter — since the critic is going to go a lot farther to research and disprove than the supporter. Thanks for keeping me honest.

    16. George Says:

      And for your future reference

      http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/ratifce.pl?Japan

    17. Jcek Says:

      @George

      II Discrimination and Equal Remuneration
      Japan ratified Convention No. 100 on Equal Remuneration in 1967 but has not ratified
      Convention No. 111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation).
      The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, disability, language and
      social status. However, discrimination remains a problem in Japan.
      Despite the existence of the Equal Employment Opportunities Law and a reduction in
      direct discrimination, indirect discrimination against women remains a problem in Japan. One of
      the causes is the “dual career ladder” system which encourages male employees along the
      professional career track and women towards the general or clerical track.
      Women are underrepresented in senior and managerial posts. Discrimination against
      women in wages and employment occurs in almost all sectors, although less regarding
      specialists, professionals, skilled workers and the like. The gender wage gap is highest among
      full time regular employees with women earning 67% of male wages in 2007. While the wage of
      women is 89% that of men among part-time non regular employees, this somewhat small gap is
      explained mainly by the fact that part-time non regular employees are mostly women.
      The Japanese labour market is further characterised by a three-tier employment pattern
      with a small number of permanent managerial posts, a number of experts in certain fields and a
      large group of non-permanent, part-time or outsourced workers. Most women fall in this third
      category which is not addressed sufficiently by the Equal Employment Opportunities Law.
      The law prohibits sexual harassment. However, sexual harassment remains a problem in
      Japan. In 2006 there were 11,102 reports of sexual harassment.
      The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in
      employment, education and access to health care. However, the effectiveness of the Disabled
      Persons Fundamental Law is unclear and, in reality, there exists discrimination against persons
      with disabilities. For example, the number of private companies which fulfilled the statutory
      employment rate for persons with disabilities remains low and stood at just 43.8% in 2007.
      Conclusions
      Discrimination in employment and remuneration is prohibited but widespread in Japan.
      There is a high gender wage gap, serious under-representation of women in managerial posts
      and a high level of indirect discrimination. Sexual harassment is a problem as well.

      I think what we were getting at was this, as it wasn’t ratified by Japan.

    18. HO Says:

      >According to NHK about a month ago (I haven’t confirmed this for myself, so I haven’t written about this until now), Japan has not signed a single international labor treaty safeguarding the rights of workers. Laborers in this country are in a singular position in the developed-country labor market in that they have few rights.

      According to this ILO page, Japan has ratified 6 out of 8 key labor treaties. That may not look good when compared to European countries, but is better than the US that has ratified only 2.
      http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/docs/declworld.htm

      >Even the right to equal salary despite gender is not backed up by punitive law.

      The penalty for wage discrimination with respect to sex is 6 months in prison.

      Labor Standards Act
      Article 4 An employer shall not engage in discriminatory treatment of a woman as compared with a man with respect to wages by reason of the worker being a woman.

      Article 119 Any person who falls under any of the following items shall be punished by imprisonment with work of not more than 6 months or by a fine of not more than 300,000 yen:
      (i) A person who has violated the provisions of Article 3, Article 4, (abbreviated);

      – Give us the text of the punishments within the 男女雇用機会均等法 while you’re at it, since that’s the germane law.

      Then try to explain away the abovementioned egregious male/female wage differentials in Japan in terms of your world view. By law it should not be happening.

    19. HO Says:

      Debito, you are talking about wage discrimination against women, which is prohibited by 労働基準法 as above, not by 男女雇用機会均等法.
      You can check the text from here.
      http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/?re=02

      Wage disparity is hardly peculiar to Japan.
      http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2008.pdf
      According to the above report, ratio of women’s wage to men’s who do similar work is,
      France 50%, Italy 54%, Germany 57%, Japan 59%, UK 62%, US 69%, Canada 71%.

      Discrimination against foreigners at workplace is also prohibited by Labor Standards Act. The punishment is 6 months in prison per article 119.

      Labor Standards Act
      Article 3 An employer shall not engage in discriminatory treatment with respect to wages, working hours or other working conditions by reason of the nationality, creed or social status of any worker.

    20. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Labor Standards Act
      Article 4 An employer shall not engage in discriminatory treatment of a woman as compared with a man with respect to wages by reason of the worker being a woman.

      This is a frightening law, as it seems to imply that it’s perfectly OK to engage in discriminatory treatment of a man.

      Which seems to be true enough — society does precious little for the average overworked salarymen while spending much more energy crowing about with gender wage gap — the figures for which need to be taken with several grains of salt.

      By focusing almost exclusively on the travails of women, who (admittedly) have a harder time reaching executive-level positions, are we not unwittingly furthering society’s egregious treatment of male office workers and factory workers who face much more stress, less personal satisfaction and fulfillment, and more physical danger than their female counterparts?

      Dr. Tetsuro Kato, karoshi activist, estimates that one fourth of male workers have to work 3,000 hours per year, and are thus at a high risk of death from overwork.

      http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/katori/Karoshi.html

      A mere 4.5% of the cases handled by the Karoshi Hotline (see the middle of the page linked above)were for women, with 94.3% being men and 1.2% being unknown.

      Hiroshi Kawahito, in his book “Karoshi” (published by Iwanami Shinsho) estimates that 97% of work-related deaths and suicides are men.

      Making 30% (or whatever number) more money than women is small compensation indeed when your chances of you job killing you is three thousand percent more. Or, looked at from the other perspective, taking an admittedly-not-insubstantial pay cut will save you hundreds of hours of overtime (and all the stress andhealth problems it entails) per year, and decrease the chance of your employer working you to death to one-thirtieth of what it had been. Now can you really say that women have it tougher?

      I realize this post is a bit off topic, but the recent slew of posts accusing Japanese employers of discriminating exclusively against women cannot go unchallenged.

      – My point is, laborers in general are in a weak position in this society. Except for the option of unionizing. Don’t get distracted by naysayers and obfuscaters.

    21. Hotbertaa Says:

      I’ve seen it at first hand and believe it’s common practise in Japan to discriminate against women in their early 30′s or onwards in relation to work. During interviews women will be asked their intentions regarding marriage and having children. I believe even if the women being interviewed doesn’t wish to be married or have children, her hand will be weakened just because of her age.
      I can understand why this may happen, it’s a way of maintaining the correct order of the ‘Japanese Family’, but feel the women should have a equal choice. I just wanted to highlight this, Japan may have laws preventing this kind of thing, but does it get enforced?
      Another point regarding the recruitment process, why the need for a photo on a resume? I wouldn’t wish the way I look to effect my chances of getting a job.

    22. Karl Says:

      Debito,

      For once I see somebody has finally mentioned the cannablilistic attitude that goes on here in Japan amoungst the NJ community. Ive witnessed this behavior time and time again. Ive even had NJ in the workplace try to get me removed so they could bring in their NJ relatives to replace me. It was almost like it was to be accepted and I should just lay down and give up my job for them. I agree, we should be supporting each other instead of looking out for #1. In the long run, you will find in Japan that it can get lonely and you might need support yourself that you cant find or get from Japanese. Ive witnessed this behavior amoungst recruiters as well. Unfortuanetly, Japan labor laws and discrimination here can open up opportunities for corruption that otherwise might not exisit in some countries. Allot of NJ seem to exploit this fact. One thing about Japan though, is that its an equal opportunity discriminator. Allot of these NJ may think that they are given preferential treatment by the Japanese, but they will, like everybody else that resides here longterm, find out that they to, will get fired, overworked, exploited, etc. Why bother with all the backstabbing? We are all in the same boat. Another thing- this Roy fellow who faced discrimination with the legal firm-this goes on everyday here. It even goes on at installations controlled by the U.S. government in Japan. I know/experienced many instances of it. Big brother wasnt there to back me up either since I fell under the Japanese labor law. I guess its good to bring it all to light, but what would be much more beneficial in my opinion is to form groups or unions here in Japan that would support the NJ community.

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