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Employees reveal absurd company regulations

109 Comments

For a company to have unique regulations for the workplace is not uncommon and happens everywhere. But after reading a J-Cast report on some rules, posted by anonymous bloggers, the word "absurd" comes to mind.

Here are some examples posted by anonymous employees working for Japanese companies.

“Every morning when we arrive at the office, the first thing we are supposed to do is greet our company’s 'special’ female coworker. We never know why we are forced to do so, because her status is not above ours. In fact, we don’t know what her status is. We are also not allowed to leave before her. If this happens, we are called to publicly apologize in front of everyone at work.”

“When we get to work, we are required to greet the boss’ dog. This should happen before we greet our colleagues or even the boss himself. In cases where someone has forgotten, they are given a lecture on morals by the boss."

“Our boss has a bell on his desk, which he uses to summon us. He never pronounces our names. When the bell rings, we know what to ask: “Coffee or tea, sir? His desk is just two meters away from ours. It’s not that far, but maybe he doesn’t like calling people by their names.”

“In our company, women are forbidden from putting on makeup. On top of that, the only underwear we are allowed to wear is white or beige. We are also not allowed to date guys under 23. If they catch us doing so, they cut our monthly pay and ask us to write and submit an official self-reflection letter. When we eventually find a marriage partner, we have to introduce him to the boss and ask for his blessings.”

“When I was working at a department store as an elevator girl, we all had to keep our possessions in a bag that was specifically for work. While this is common for some types of jobs, what was strange in our case was that full time employees had a Chanel bag, contract employees had a Louis Vuitton, and part-timers had no-brand bags. That was the unspoken rule. Also, when we are in the restroom, we can't leave before any full time employees do. In fact, we have to hold the door for them.”

J-Cast concludes that while those company rules are absurd to the point of being frightening, what is worth a more serious discussion here is not only the fact that the hierarchy at work allows those on top to treat their subordinates as they wish, but also that those subordinates are put in a situation where they must follow the rules only for the sake of remaining employed.

© Japan Today

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109 Comments
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I presume, and sincerely hope, that these arcane rules are very rare in J-business!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The rule "no dating guys under 23" and the threat of cutting salaries is clearly illegal and can easily be contested at the Tokyo Labor Standards Office.

The employees in these companies obviously have to deal with bad managers. A good manager can motivate employees to do their jobs and bring money to the company. If more managers focused on work efficiency and how to improve their business model instead of harassing employees for irrelevant stuff, then the Japanese economy would be in a better shape.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Interesting. I worked at a JP patent firm that required silence. If there was any conversation at your desk, even work related, and it extended beyond 3 minutes, you had to go to a conference room or risk the wrath of the boss!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

...the only underwear we are allowed to wear is white or beige.

The company holds daily inspections?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I wish we had the "silence" rule in my office. I never thought I'd be practicing law and handling complex legal and technical matters while sitting at an open table in what is effectively a giant telephone call center and meeting room. I actually get more done at home with 3 kids screaming and fighting and tugging at my laptop.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If I had a boss who summoned people with a bell I think the bell would find its way into the bin before long.

In the company I worked at there was a regulation that the housing allowance would only be paid if the floor area was less than 60m2 (no matter what the rent). I found a nice house for the same rent as our 60m2 flat, but couldn't move there because I would have lost the housing allowance (about Y30000 per month). Nobody was able to explain the reason for this rule.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“When I was working at a department store as an elevator girl, we all had to keep our possessions in a bag that was specifically for work. While this is common for some types of jobs, what was strange in our case was that full time employees had a Chanel bag, contract employees had a Louis Vuitton, and part-timers had no-brand bags.

I was agreeing that the policies were "absurd" until I came across this one. Who cares what kind of bag people use?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article is typical in its misrepresentation of Japanese society as a oppressive, heirarchical society, as shown b the conclusion of the original Japanese article (Google "J-Cast", "inu" and "aisatsu" the latter two words in kanji).

The J-Cast article concludes "Is it the permanent empoyees that make these nasty rules (regarding who leaves the toilet first)? It may well be that the part timers, eagre to maintain their 'position', are willing accomplices." I think that this "position" refers to status as part timer, and thus not having to work so hard and leave earlier and have to bear less responsibility, rather than to the possibility of their being sacked. So rather than concludig that Japanese companies are draconianly heirarchical, the original article is suggesting (the truth) that they are in fact far more democratic, or polyarchic, with a plurality of positions excercising power, both top down and equally, from the bottom up. The existence of the 'tail wagging the dog' aspect is the 'soft truth' found Japanese companies, and generally all Japanese interpersonal, including gender, relations.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hmm... they should send in investigators from Osaka to look into this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They complain to reporters but do they actually launch complaints to Hello Work? No? Than stop crying. Until people stand up to these companies such crap will go on.

How cool is it though that someone has their dog at work?? I am jealous! I would say hello to the dog no problem!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I hope Ozawa is on this site and reading this. He could fix it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

During my 9 years in Japan I was the only gaijin in the office so was able to get away with a lot. But we moved to a new building down by Tamachi station. It was only 5 stories high but very wide. Our offices were at the back end on the third floor. So at the end of the day instead of walking the length of the building to the lift, going down and then walking the lenght of the building again towards the station I'd go out the back door and down the fire escape. After a while a memo came from the building's custodian that people were not to use the fire escape to leave the building. When I say fire escape I mean wide solid stairs not a ladder down the side. Despite words from my boss and colleagues I continued to use it. So then the custodian did an office by office meeting and explained to every one that the fire escape had to be clear in case of fire therefore people were not to use it when there was not a fire in case there was a fire. And the thing that stunned me was that everyone but me accepted this twisted logic.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

And the thing that stunned me was that everyone but me accepted this twisted logic

SimonB -- if you really were in Japan nine years, then I can't imagine you'd express such a thought. "Twisted logic" is often the rule not the exception in my experience.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

SimondB

No offense, but it's behavior like what you described in your post that gives foreigners who work in Japanese organizations a bad name. It wasn't a matter of accepting logic, twisted or otherwise, but a simple priority you placed on your personal convenience over the established rules and regulations of the organization of which you are a part. You clearly didn't agree with the rule prohibiting the non-emergency use of the fire escape so you could have raised the issue with the building custodian and/or your superiors, but instead you chose to simply ignore the rule, which I assume most if not all of your colleagues followed. So what's your logic? You're free to break rules which you don't agree with? What you need to consider is that there may very well be valid reasons for such rules but just not evident from your perspective. Did you ever consider that maybe the fire code legally prohibited it? Or that for crime-prevention reasons the company wanted everyone using a single entrance/exit? Some may see you as being a maverick maintaining your individuality but I, and probably most of your then-colleagues, see you as selfish and inconsiderate in this regard.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

My home country is very non-hierarchical as compared to Asia, U.S., France or UK. Hence the priority is on getting things done, no matter how. I find some Japanese office practices really weird, like the forced drinking with the boss. Also, at one office I worked, we had a punch card for work time. If my train was late (Chuo line :D:D) I might be punching in at 9.05. This did not mean that I could stay 5 mins later in the afternoon to compensate. I lost automatically 30 min pay. In my home country this just would not happen. My work was not customer service, so in that sense it did not matter if it was done 5 mins earlier or later. Also the matter that everybody has to take 1 hr lunch break at the same time is ridiculous. In my home country you can just bring sandwiches from home and take 30 mins lunch break and leave then 30 mins earlier from work in the afternoon. It is called flex time and it is really handy for working mothers and fathers, who have to pick their kids from school or daycare.

Also in this place I worked whenever I wrote a letter to foreign country in English, I had to show it to my superior. She would then read it consulting a dictionary, as she did not understand half of the words I used. Before writing the letter I had already consulted with her what I should write, but she obviously (this being Japan) had to "check" the letter.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

From my understanding there are no "rules" about using fire escapes to leave from work. Petty that this custodian tried to make an issue out of nothing. He was probably pissed about having to clean up cigarette butts from people - like my past job. People would smoke and drop making the poor women pick up after them. 100% with the poster on this. No reason not to use the fire escape if it is there and he's not blocking anything. If anything, good that someone IS using it and is aware that is is in working condition. Been more than a few deaths here due to blocked fire escapes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In the news, the company's "special female coworker" could be a living timestamp. Maybe the company is using her to clock the hours of the workers.

I heard couple of years ago that a Japanese megabank has a bell ringing at 1200 and 1300 to signal the beginning and end of the lunch time for employees. Employees cannot leave before the bell and have to be in their seats before the second bell rings.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I see nothing wrong with a bell for lunch. Schools have one and it helps ensure people are working when they are being paid to be at their desks. I teach and I like that one of my unis has a bell. I wish the others did too!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

tmarie

No reason not to use the fire escape if it is there and he's not blocking anything. If anything, good that someone IS using it and is aware that is is in working condition.

Do you apply the same logic to emergency exits on airplanes or for emergency buttons on elevators, trains, etc.? I mean, you'd be doing everyone a service by ensuring that they work right? Give me a break.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Haha this is so funny. Of course those examples are rare cases, but obviously people go online and share them - it's fun reading. There was a bell at the 'foreign' company I worked for some time ago. The last time I heard a bell was in high school...but things seem connected here.

timtak>> "This article is typical in its misrepresentation of Japanese society as a oppressive, heirarchical society" Well, it was the Japanese guys who went online to post their experiences and the original article was by a J-sourse. Don't see your point. I guess they were just trying to make people laugh. No one in their right state of mind would conclude that 'that's Japan' after reading an article like this. You're obviously going a bit too far with your conclusions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In the company I worked for, eating chewing gum during your break was not allowed. Writing notes with a red pen were not allowed. Getting a new pencil needed special permission from the director. Coming to work early to clean the office, we had to take turns. Skirt length was measured, 10cm above knee was the maximum.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here is a simple one:

To save money, employees should not use highways for business-trips by car. Well, still it is OK to use, but the highway toll will not be re-imbursed.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Also, when we are in the restroom, we can’t leave before any full time employees do. In fact, we have to hold the door for them.”

And do a floater check?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My last office had the office fink, who would watch everyone when the boss was out. When the boss got back, the fink would discretely call the boss from his desk, and the boss, in full view, would answer phone, and we would see the report taking place. The only thing worse than a brown-noser is a fink.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I love the one about greeting the dog, sounds like someone out there has their priorities straight. I wonder if they got to pet him too? I miss my dogs :( .

As for the others... well, you can always "vote with your feet". If people are too spineless to do that then they deserve all they can get. Employers quickly learn their lesson when their five best employees walk out the door to new jobs a couple of weeks after they implement some irritating regulation. I've done it once when my boss tried to pressure me into a transfer I didn't want (he'd successfully done this to a couple of other people), and I've been told he's since stopped trying it. Your boss may seem like an idiot to you, but he's not really, and he CAN be trained ;)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

simondb

If you were here for 9 years you should have soon realized logic & I will add, common sense, arent so common here.

Thank goodness I aint a salary dude, an awful existence for most!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One example where I worked were the very strict and inflexible rules about business trips, wherby you can't have any 'free' days during trips etc. One employee had two meetings in Europe separated by a few days and ended up flying back to Japan in between the meetings only to spend less than a full day here before heading straight back to Europe. To make it even worse the company is constantly telling everyone how they're doing everything possible to save energy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Foxie: Oh dear, I think I am getting twisted in this society somedays. I am not sure but I may have misinterpreted your statement... ''Skirt length was measured, 10cm above knee was the maximum'' I took it to mean that the maximum length is 10cm above the knee, but shorter is acceptable. Please say that is minimum requirement is 10 cm above the knee. (^o^)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Complaining to the Labour stand board is useless, they can request but not enforce. Hello work are worse you are a trouble maker. Yes there are laws but again usually these bodies side with the company. My first job only employed new comers filed our tax returns and pocketed the cash, we complained but were told it was too hard to do anything about as the president refused to meet with the LSB. Case closed. There is a funny book to be written here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My office did not allow personal items (such as photos of spouse or children) on our desks. Along with the usual trappings of a Japanese company, such as not using vacation days, staying until the boss leaves. I was also told not to associate with co-workers from other sections of the company, because my group worked with sensitive customer information and I could inadvertently let something slip.

Oh, and when I shaved my head, I was told bluntly that if I had been a regular Japanese employee (instead of the token gaijin in a company of 600), I would have been fired for expressing individuality.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Advice:

If you are working for a company with stupid rules like this, quit immediately. There is work to be done in this world, and situations like this where people are staring at their navels are strictly welfare positions. Get a real job and don't look back.

The boss is the problem? Then it will NEVER get better. Co-workers are the problem? Why work with losers?

20 times sadder than the dumb rules is that people apparently shrug and go along with them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I worked for a technical subcontractor to the U.S. Mint and we were paid an annual salary and worked 40-hour weeks. The Mint's in-house PC group got a new supervisor whose first order of business was to put up a time card clock just for the subcontractors. We all voted with our feet at the insult. I don't know if they ever took the clock down and it obviously doesn't matter to me whether they did or not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I worked for a company where we had to write down what we did the last 30 minutes in a paper and we had to explain why we did this or that. Smokers had to write how many minutes they took smoking. At a friend's company it got even worse: cars had an online GPS system and when they had to visit a client, if they they stopped in a convenience store to use the toilet, they had to explain this to their boss, in minutes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Despite their weird rules and borderline psychotic bosses, I'll say one thing. Japanese companies always pay on time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I see nothing wrong with asking smokers about their smoking time. One thing that drove me nuts when I worked for a large company here was how many times my smoking coworkers were out smoking while I was at my desk working. I asked my boss if I could leave an extra hour earlier everyday pointing out that was how much time the smokers took each day. Average 7 times a day (once and hour), took them 7 of so minutes.... Why should I be in at my desk working while they are not? If I had a company I wouldn't allow them to smoke or would ask them to stay later because they are eating company time.

GPS is another thing. I was out on meetings a lot - often back to back and if you have 30 mins in between, why not stop and grab coffee. Mind you, if all companies insisted on knowing where their staff was, some of us might be able to get a seat in a coffee shop instead of having it packed with sleeping salarymen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ tmarie: the GPS thing I wrote was 2 years ago. By now they can be tracked inside the toilet thru their smartphones GPS.

Another thing that I found absurd was the forced "rei" thing: in two companies I worked we - we foreigners, I mean - were taken along the Japanese staff to the small shrine inside the building and we had to bow in front of the shrine, twice a year. I really didn't care, I did it because I am open-minded when it comes down to religion, but I don't think this should be forced to people who don't even understand what shintoism is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ahhh Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just more evidence of the continuing decline, man Japan really needs to start working smarter, the current course only points downwards

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

tmarie, you'd make an awfull boss. You should not let other's actions bother you. If they get away taking smoking breaks in every hour, maybe you can start looking at something you like in internet, but shouldn't bring that fact to your boss. I am in same situation, dont' like smoking and don't appreciate others doing it often, but would never bring it to my manager and complain about others. Each person is responsible of their actions. If they can get away taking breaks often, that's their concern,(or ablility) not yours.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i just got a chance to read this article. seriously, are they real? what a freak cop orate culture there?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It comes down to protection of importance, if you make a fuss about something and make it look important and you would be stupid if you thought otherwise you can get away with anything, smoking included.

Ever seen that Seinfield episode where George eats a chocolate bar with a knife a fork and when people ask him "what are you doing?" he said "eating my desert, how do you eat it... with your hands!?" giving the impression only idiots would do that. At the end of the show everyone in the coffee shop is eating that way.

Apple's marketing does the same thing, makes something that is really nothing into something "AMAZING", when ios3 came out the big thing was "cut n paste"... seriously? Apple makes out that if you don't follow them your stupid... it's all projection marketing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Damien, I know I would. I can't stand selfish nor stupid people so... I did just that. When one coworker went out, I checked my mail, surfed the web... I got questioned by my manager about it (a friend of mine as I did it right before him) and just said it was my smoking break. Thankfully he found it funny and the smokers were spoken to.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

damien15,

Your the one who is wrong, smokers waste collosal amounts of time, including MINE & I dont bloody smoke!

A few puffs once in a while fine but you get people out smoking a couple times EVERY HOUR, hell I got people in Tokyo to Fukuoka who waste my time, it pisses me off when so & so aint at their desk, they call back, oh was having a smoke.

So what I do is make their company PAY for this & other non-sense from time to time. I share my profit with these companies & when this stuff gets stupid they get less, I will with hold Y20-30,000 here & there. Last year I figure they lost about Y300,000 because of bad habits, too bad more people cudnt do what I can, at least I get some compensation haha!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Damien15,

As a non smoker who worked for a company in Australia where at least 50%+ of the staff where smokers l completely disagree with what your saying. You are paid to perform a certain task and if they are out bludging while you are in working that becomes your concern. And the easiest solution is time their breaks and then speak to your boss about it and straight out ask for x minutes of extra pay or for them to be docked x minutes that they where away from their job simple.

The other alternative is ok you want to smoke that is fine you clock off go and smoke then come back and clock back in. This time is docked from your pay, its amazing how many people suddenly can go hours without a smoke. Its your choice to smoke, its a personal choice why should your workmates suffer for that

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"When we arrive at work, we are required to greet the boss' dog."

Woof!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Our boss has a bell on his desk"

( in my best Lurch voice ) You rang?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"the only underwear we are allowed to wear is white or beige"

What? No candy red?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder who gets the job of underwear inspector. Some old perv l bet

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One word: "Sick"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"We are also not allowed to date guys under 23"

I guess you can't marry one either, lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So then the custodian did an office by office meeting and explained to every one that the fire escape had to be clear in case of fire therefore people were not to use it when there was not a fire in case there was a fire.

Being told not to use fire stairs is not in the same league as being told what color underwear is permissible

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you are spending time worrying about what your co-workers are doing, then you're a busy body. You need to focus on your work and keep your nose out of other's business. Tmarie- what you did basically is telling on your co-worker. That is childish and you should just do your job. Companies can not dock your pay for taking smoke breaks in Japan. That is against the law. Plus no one wants to sit there and follow people around. Stop being stupid and get to work.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

But if you repeat if these stories are repeated outside of the magazine, now one would ever believe you. I`ve seen so much crazy stuff in this country over 20 years but no one ever believes the stories.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

BUsy body indeed - was working a hell of a lot more than the smokers!! Easy to see who the smokers are on here! If not, than the slackers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you are spending time worrying about what your co-workers are doing, then you're a busy body. You need to focus on your work and keep your nose out of other's business. Tmarie- what you did basically is telling on your co-worker. That is childish and you should just do your job. Companies can not dock your pay for taking smoke breaks in Japan. That is against the law. Plus no one wants to sit there and follow people around. Stop being stupid and get to work.

Helly, if you worked for me you wud be FIRED!

This is simple tmarie is right, your wrong, Japan has millions out smoking their brains out when they shud be working & reducing their risk of getting lung cancer to boot.

Like lunchtime, breaks should be at set time & THEN you can have your gan-sticks if ya want them, if smokers were kept in line productivity wud go way up in this country or at least they could be booted out the do!ors earlier so we can turn the lights off!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Based on what I've experienced in the workplace, smokers take about a half-hour's-worth of smoke breaks in the course of a single workday. Simply ask them to work an extra half hour to compensate for the time stolen from the company, or reduce the size of their paycheck an equivilent amount. No need for anyone to get fired over it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've seen some of my Japanese employees exhibit some of these behaviors, especailly the one where they had to greet a female employee. When I took over and asked why they do so, they said that they didn't know why. I stopped that behaivor yet they were still afraid to stop. When I laid out the bottom line, that the person in question doesn't have the authority to fire them, and I had to put her in her place, things began to get a bit better.

Such strange behavior. Now I see why when I throw away the PET bottles at home, I see many bags with at least a case of beer in cans thrown away each week. Plenty of silent suffering here in Nippon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

alpha,

You are correct! Sadly most Japanese arent "happy" unless others around them are sufficiently miserable, it just keeps going round. Japan could be SO SO SO much better for everyone with a few adjustments, but this stuff is so hard wired I dont think it will ever happen sadly

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think the most backward rule is that women have to wear an actual uniform, but men do not - just a suit. Such bull.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I actually prefer wearing a uniform at work, saves me a lot of money and headaches. Companies should have offices for smokers and non-smokers, then everybody would be happy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Uniform, no uniform, I don't care but just make it the same for men and women.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think the most backward rule is that women have to wear an actual uniform, but men do not - just a suit. Such bull.

In the company I work for, like many other companies, the female staff can wear whatever they want, but us men all have to wear suits/ties etc.

Very unfair. I'd rather have everyone wear a uniform.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Whatever they want? You sure about that? Check out how many are wearing heels.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Whatever they want? You sure about that? Check out how many are wearing heels.

The firm I work for has no regulations on what women can/can't wear. So yeah, "Whatever they want".

Many are wearing heels. Hardly the most comfortable shoes to wear in an office, but there are a lot wearing them. Shorts and short skirts too. But I have no complaints about them ;)

Us men, however are stuck in suits/ties.

Equality for the sexes, eh?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That sucks. I am jealous. Often men make comments about how lucky women are to be able to wear whatever they want but don't realise that we can't. and women's clothing seems so much more uncomfortable than men's. I"d be in flip flops and jeans at your office!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The employees who smoke might be slacking off from time to time but I've also seen smoking as a great chance to talk to people in other departments without formal barriers. You can glean a lot of info by hanging out in the smoking room!

As for the article, it gives pretty extreme examples and you can find equally absurd regulations in many other countries. Also, treating employees based on their status as full-time, contract or part-time is very commonplace in Japan and pretty much goes without saying.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@tmarie

Then come on down! Flip-flops and jeans are fine at the place I work.

Often men make comments about how lucky women are to be able to wear whatever they want but don't realise that we can't. and women's clothing seems so much more uncomfortable than men's.

Yeah, but you still have the choice. Which is all I want too. ;)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These stories about suits, ties and uniforms cracks me up. I commute to work in bare feet or slippers and work in my underwear if I want. My company is in Florida, I work in Japan and I live in Hawaii.

Ah, the joys of telecommuting!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The most absurd company regulation I ever had - deliver that pizza in 30 minutes or less!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the_sheriff at 10:27 AM JST - 7th June The employees who smoke might be slacking off from time to time but I've also seen smoking as a great chance to talk to people in other departments without formal barriers. You can glean a lot of info by hanging out in the smoking room!

Also a great way to talk to people who would normally not talk to you, like the CEO. Oh, and plus no-one ever questions a smoker's right to be in the smoking room. I was in Tokyo looking for somewhere to smoke (now an ever-harder exercise... which is bloody stupid since the way to encourage people to smoke politely is NOT to make them walk 5 blocks looking for a smoking sanctioned smoking area) so I wandered into a building and asked where the smoking room was... it only dawned on me later that I'd been waved past security into a company's offices. There was a slight snag when I was going out and they asked me for my visitor's card, but I just told them I hadn't been given one and they were okay with that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There was a Friend's episode about the whole smoking as a way to get yoru ideas heard. I 100% understand it - I used to go to the pub with my managers to find out what the heck was going on at work and be "one of the guys" which while taking my free time away, did get me in on things I never would have known had I not been there. Thing is, it shouldn't be like this.

Dog, where do I send my resume to?? Yes, lots of choice but at times the choice is a) do I wear the painful shoes or b) the really painful shoes??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

human rights lawsuits all

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

well not all.. it's just weird. Stand up for yourselves Japanese. The only reason this exists is because you let it exist.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

or form a union.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"when we are in the restroom, we can't leave before any full time employees do"

This is too dumb.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And these don't present any legal issues? Asia in general seems to have a very backwards view of human rights, especially in gender equality, but wouldn't there be laws in a modern society that prevents coerced servitude (ie. Slavery)?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

OrangeW3dge - Yes, they have laws here that SHOULD prevent this sort of thing, but enforcement is lax, employers, if investigated, do everything to wriggle out of any penalisation (lying, trying to discredit the employee - absolutely no scruples at all), and the usual Japanese apathy means no one is prepared to blow the whistle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

or form a union.

Japanese Unions are a joke, they kow-tow to management just like any other employee and when they actually authorize a strike for something, it usually only lasts one day, and the folks that went on strike end up using a vacation day, with pay mind you, to cover their time off.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

when we are in the restroom, we can't leave before any full time employees do

Not allowed to leave first?

In my office, it's quite the opposite: I require my part time employees to evacuate the restroom immediately upon the entrance of any full timer--regardless of what stage in their "business" they're at when happened upon.

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In my office, it's quite the opposite: I require my part time employees to evacuate the restroom immediately upon the entrance of any full timer--regardless of what stage in their "business" they're at when happened upon.

I sincerely hope you are joking here.

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In jobs, both in America and Japan, I would smoke to be able to take a break. If I just sat around I would get told to go back to work, if I was smoking I would be able to take a break. (Hint: you get more time with roll your own cigarettes)

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but what about those men who have been forced to go to fukushima by their normal companies because if they had refused, they would have lost their job...? that's a far more serious example. i couldn't imagine any western civilized country ever doing so... affected workers would immediately file a suit because it's pure blackmail and completely non-causal after all.

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I sincerely hope you are joking here.

I wouldn't joke about such a thing.

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and it's only a matter of time until companies in other countries, long used to emulating the successful Japanese business model, start looking for new ways to further demean, debase, and humiliate so-called lower tier employees to help boost their own insecure sense of self importance. Has some bureaucratic committee decided that degrading treatment of employees actually boosts company moral and increases productivity?

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I think the concept of the "successful Japanese business model" went by the wayside in the 90's. In the U.S., the Saturn Car Company was started-up using the tenets of the Japanese business model. Saturn Car Company doesn't exist anymore. "Just In Time" assembly parts delivery is great when everything is working like clockwork. But one little glitch like a tropical storm cutting power to one of the suppliers throws the whole system into disarray.

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My ex-girlfriend wasn't allowed to put any personal effects on her desk - not even a coffee mug!

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OK, it's all very simple: Should you find yourself "required" to follow rules like the one's in the article, you blatantly disobey. And when your boss calls you to his office, you give him a good telling off.

Never, ever ever ever blindly obey "authority." Always question, always make a stand if you need to. And practice making good retorts in front of the bathroom mirror at home.

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yeah strange corny Rules. & i agree simonB just gives Gaijin a bad name, he is stuborn. Hey if they say DON'T use the fire escape then DON'T!

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These are very funny! think of the capers you could have if you decided to enjoy your day - get all your co-workers to participate, film it and blow Mr. Big's mind but only in a kind way. Fun Times! Ha!

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I will follow any rule that makes REAL sense and it's of some actual benefit to the business. Silly rules are for silly people. Only sheep follow rules without question or hesitation.

As such I am the only person in our office who does not have to use a time card (stamp thingy). I am salaried, and could not understand why I needed to stamp in. I said to the boss if you do not trust me, don't employ me.

I also had an issue using the fire escape. I was told that using the fire escape was causing a fire hazard. My response was "what planet are you from"? The follow up answer I got was 'it is the rule'. So because other brain dead morons accept being treated like immature children, I am supposed to as well... Trouble is I was not brainwashed as a child to never question authority and to follow rules simple because they are rules., hence I will always have an unintentional clash when it comes to idiotic rules. Why are so many people here in Japan afraid of rules or even questioning their rationale?

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These stupid rules make NOVA and Berlitz sound like nice jobs!

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To those who think it's okay to disregard company rules not to use the fire escape in order to leave the office:

The rule to not use the fire escape by a large number of people on an almost daily basis (you will not be the only one if they let you get away with it) is in place because of fire related regulations imposed by the Fire Department and also stipulated by fire insurance companies.

You are directly in violation of their regulations and contracts and it is perfectly normal for your company to ask you to comply with these rules. I imagine there are elevators or staircases in place which every other person uses, so there is really no reason or valid excuse for you not to.

In the United States, it took a tragic loss of life at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in 1911 in New York City to provoke a public outcry for strict fire escape regulations. I'm not sure what triggered the Japanese into enforcing fire escape regulations, but they are there and they are quite reasonable.

There are penalties that will be assessed if fire regulations are not followed. These penalties can be assessed according to mandates and/or individual municipal codes. Insurance companies who provide fire policies may also reassess insurance premiums if a policy holder is found to be in violation of any fire regulation.

Grow up!

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@Hippo

Well said, Sir, well said!

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very funny greet the boss` dog

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In the United States, it took a tragic loss of life at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in 1911 in New York City to provoke a public outcry for strict fire escape regulations. I'm not sure what triggered the Japanese into enforcing fire escape regulations, but they are there and they are quite reasonable.

Oh the humanity!

Regulations mandating fire escapes are a far cry from regulations mandating that fire escapes can only be used during fires.

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I'm more of a womandating kinda guy, but whatever floats your boat, Nessie.

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good

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"On top of that, the only underwear we are allowed to wear is white or beige."

And who checks to see what colour the underwear is? This is ludicrous, but I can see how people are afraid to complain to higher authorities -- said authorities would AT BEST call the boss and make an appointment to inspect the company, and then if it was found out who talked to the authorities they would be canned, guaranteed. The authorities would do absolutely nothing about any rights violations and/or discritimination unless the companies were BLATANTLY doing it right in front of the authorities' noses (and even then, they'd probably just politely warn the boss).

So, no, TMarie, it's not as simple as 'if you don't like it, complain', especially with the current economy where being jobless is not an option.

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Oh, Smith.... Give it a rest.

If the uniform they wear is white then obviously any underwear other than the colors white or beige would be visable to the eye through the uniform, consisting probably of a white skirt and/or white blouse.

I would even point such a thing out to my wife in the same manner I would point out that someone's fly is open.

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Damaging a company's image because you feel the need to wear underwear that can be seen through the uniform is ludicrous. It's the customers/clients that check and complain. Just so you know....

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Why do these posts of mine get thumbs down???????????????????????????

Underwear policies are just that. I didn't make the rules. Just telling you how it is!

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skeptical hippo, I think you pissed some people off so they keep giving you thumbs down no matter what you post. I gave you a thumbs up, by the way :)

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cmon its just supposed to be a funny article.

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OK, OK, I think underwear is getting too much attention on the board. The issue is how ridiculous some demands are, not whether the demands are a matter of taste or not. Certainly uniforms are an accepted practice here and abroad as well (flight attendants, police...?). If you want the job and you agree to the regulations then it is more a matter of doing what you are paid to do, including wearing the Mickey Mouse costume if you work for Disney. What is ridiculous is the extent that some employers go to, to the point of abusing civil or even human rights. There is, or should be laws in place already, but if a crime goes unreported then it also goes un-prosecuted. When people stand up for their rights it makes it much harder to abuse them.

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skeptical hippo, I think you pissed some people off so they keep giving you thumbs down no matter what you post. I gave you a thumbs up, by the way :)

I see. That makes sense... Thanks!

“Our boss has a bell on his desk, which he uses to summon us. He never pronounces our names. When the bell rings, we know what to ask: “Coffee or tea, sir? His desk is just two meters away from ours. It’s not that far, but maybe he doesn’t like calling people by their names.”

I had a boss who summoned me by blowing his little whistle. I never thought anything of it. I guess it all depends on where you work and who your boss is.

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I've said it many times before and say it again: Working in Japan involves putting up with absurdity that would probably be considered a violation of human rights in other countries, especially at small family owned companies.

I've heard and seen TV reports on companies where the owners or founders are no different from cult leader with employees having to bow to their pictures every morning, run work-unrelated errands for their children, serve tea or coffee at a determined time or otherwise risk a cut in payment or public humiliation or abuse.

One of most stupid examples I saw on TV once was that of a ramen chain owner in Osaka who had this obsession with Rambo and made all employees undergo compulsory military-like training at 5:00am every morning at no extra pay...of curse, he was 'the commander' of the ramen forces....utterly stupid....

But I dearly remember the truck driver who was fired from a small family cult-like company, so, pissed off, he stole a cistern truck full of human waste and emptied the contents in the company's main office....revenge is sweet.....

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The underwear rule could make sense if the employee is required to wear a white skirt or pants as a uniform. In that case, dark underwear or underwear with cute pictures or words can be seen through the clothes especially in a well lit place, and in that case there would not need to be an underwear inspector, the obvious would be seen by everyone. So this could be a rule for the benefit of both the employee and company to save both from unnecessary embarrassment. I would place my bets on this being the case.

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Wow....an old article but a goody! Some great debate, interesting experiences and funny comments to boot.

I've been in Japan 10 years now and the same very traditional large Japanese corporation for the last 4.

I think some of the seeming absurd rules mentioned in the article are exactly that - ridiculous - and likely don't even still exist. The job market is changing here and employers are having to create better working conditions to keep hold of talent. The odd wacky company with an eccentric CEO might still have the odd quirky rule (we have a company song we used to sing every morning up until a few months ago) but these are being questioned by more outspoken younger employees and disappearing.

Still, there are generally more company regulations to adhere to working at a Japanese firm but it stems from a culture of rigid hierarchy taught and learned right back in primary schools. Difficult to suddenly change a way of thinking so ingrained.

The fire exit story - I see the guys point, but then again it's a rule and there's no real reason to intentially break it. If your company back home had a similar regulation in place, you'd likely respect it.

I think it's important not to always to try find faults with Japan, or any other country you are an expat in. Could find a million reasons to complain about wherever you choose to live or work in the world, I'm sure.

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I work 9 and a half hours non-stop with no breaks and an extra unpaid hour meeting once a week and one unpaid two hour meeting once a month as well as the company falsely reporting 8 hour work days and claiming we get the one hour break. It's just how black companies operate in Japan.

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