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kuchikomi

Increasingly desperate single women bear brunt of economic inequality

23 Comments

In a statement released on Sept 9, 2019, the National Tax Agency noted that the average annual income for female workers came to 2.93 million yen, as opposed to 5.45 million yen for males. But according to data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, 55.5% of these female workers are employed as part-time or irregular workers such as from dispatch firms, as opposed to the fortunate minority who receive the full wage package, such as bonuses, paid leave and other perks. 

These less privileged female workers take home an average of only 1.54 million yen per year, as opposed to 2.36 million for their male counterparts. 

In other words, points out Shukan Jitsuwa (March 12), one single female worker out of three earns less than half the national average, which qualifies her to be categorized as belonging to the segment referred to as sotaiteki hinkon (relative poverty). 

To narrow the income gap, some women, for whatever reason, turn to prostitution. Take 23-year-old Saya, who sells ad space for a free newspaper. Out of her monthly take-home pay of 210,000 yen, just under half -- 100,000 yen -- goes to apartment rent and utilities. On top of that, she pays 80,000 yen to attend an occupational training school and another 30,000 yen she owes to an attorney.  

Saya came to Tokyo five years ago. She was unable to rely on financial assistance from her family, so after high school graduation she began working as a hostess in a cabaret club. 

"There were no jobs back home, and I felt this was the only way to make money," she said. "Up to that point I had no experience working in the 'water trade.' Still, it seemed better than selling my body. It didn't take long to get used to the job." 

Her life changed when a customer at the club, a man in his 30s employed in the IT sector, began showing interest. 

"He would come to the club at least once a week," she relates. "He spent freely and bought me drinks. Always asked for me. I would meet him outside of work and he gave me 50,000 yen." 

She soon realized working at night had no future and began learning out to be a manicurist, in the hope of opening her own nail salon. After quitting her job at the club, however, the customer continued to pursue her, sending messages via Line. 

Then one day she came home and found prints of her in the nude. The next day at work she received an email of her and a female friend bathing together at an hot springs. 

His threats of blackmail continued and she gave in to his demands, thinking if she "just slept with him once, maybe he'd leave me alone..." 

But the customer turned out to be physically abusive as well, and she eventually turned to her older brother, who went to the police. The customer and brother are currently embroiled in a civil lawsuit. 

"But then I found out I was pregnant by him," she admitted. "I just got an abortion." 

Shukan Jitsuwa relates two more tales of woe.  One, 29-year-old Tomoko, dropped out of school from her sophomore year after being saddled with 4.9 million yen in tuition loans. She worked in the water trade but eventually returned to her home town where she works for a pachinko shop, supplementing her income with papa-katsu, i.e., occasionally bedding with an older man for 30,000 yen a pop. 

The other, 28-year-old Reika, is a single mother who had fled an abusive stepfather while in her teens. After her mother's divorce she returned home. Her mother, age 45, earns 200,000 yen a month at a part-time job while she hunts for work. 

Nonfiction writer Atsuhiko Nakamura blames two laws that "deregulated" the labor market in 1999 and 2004 for creating the current hardships among Japan's workers, particularly females. 

"The laws had the effect of increasing the number of non-regular workers, and have resulted in an expanding income disparity," Nakamura said, adding, "In addition, some middle-aged and older men who have maintained high incomes have led them to assume an air of superiority and engage in sexual harassment or power harassment. Even while they take advantage of younger women sexually, these men might be saying smugly to themselves, 'Look how worthless the younger generation has become' and 'I'm really worried about Japan's future

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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Well, most women avoid heavy lifting jobs like garbage disposal, construction, dock workers, and the like.

-18 ( +5 / -23 )

Well, most women avoid heavy lifting jobs like garbage disposal, construction, dock workers, and the like.

I would call carrying a baby for nine months heavy lifting. There are many young women truck drivers. Last month a local house was being demolished to build a new one. The boss was a woman who was also operating the digger they use.

People, men and women should receive the same pay for the same job.

23 ( +27 / -4 )

Maybe if they didn't spend 95% of their time glued to their smartphones and actually studied a skill they could find a decent job.

-11 ( +9 / -20 )

It has slipped my mind which country (Germany maybe?) but if a company uses a non-regular worker beyond six months, they are required to offer them the option of joining as a regular staff member. So the amount of remuneration is not the sole factor involved.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Well, most women avoid heavy lifting jobs like garbage disposal, construction, dock workers, and the like.

So do many men.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

One reason there are such high levels of prostitution in Japan is because very few other jobs for women pay decent money. Once you've tasted that "easy money", it's very hard to go back to stacking shelves at 7/11 for 800 yen an hour.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

From reading the article, it seems the first problem Saya had was a lack of real job skills. She completed high school but probably lacked the tools for earning money at a real trade. She also doesn't seem to be especially bright. When she was being blackmailed, she should have gone to the police immediately. She already had evidence against the guy.

Overall, you cannot look at these stories and automatically come to the conclusion that it all boils down to economic equality. A high school dropout cannot possibly think that without any talent they should make as much as a person who finished college and has a viable degree. There is ecomomic inequality out there in many forms but I did not see an example in this article.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

It has slipped my mind which country (Germany maybe?) but if a company uses a non-regular worker beyond six months, they are required to offer them the option of joining as a regular staff member. So the amount of remuneration is not the sole factor involved.

The Labor Contract Act in Japan has a similar rule, introduced in 2013, but it is a double edged sword.

After five years of continuous employment as a contract worker, the worker gains the right to demand being turned into a permanent employee.

BUT, the Act does not prevent an employer from terminating the employee any time before they reach that 5 year threshold. So the practice at many employers has been to do just that, keep employees for 5 years less a day and then throw them out the day before they become legally entitled to become permanent employees.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Japanese women are turning to prostitution because of the easy money, have a count of how many University students are working the trade, what about the numbers of women who actually have qualifications such as nurse's that work the trade - its more of case of laziness than societal issues.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Very unfortunate. Japan is an unforgiving country once you have fallen off the horse so to speak. One failure and your future becomes bleak. Foreigners are lucky with even barely literate ones able to make 250,000 yen per month singing the ABC's.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

There are many institutional factors making it harder for women than men getting a decent wage in Japan. But this article seems to sensationalize it by bringing stories of women turning to prostitution. Not sure why they chose that angle.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Women who are willing to become technically and business savvy are able to succeed. There are not many famous female CEO's in Japan, but there are tens of thousands of successful businesswomen who run their own small and medium sized businesses.

The majority of young women I've spoken with in Japan are completely uninterested in business and technology.

How do they expect to get ahead in life if they have no in-demand skills? Playing puzzle dragons on your phone won't cut it.

Schools should make computer literacy mandatory, and young generations need a smartphone detox, they can't do anything other than swipe away at their glass screens.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Work insecurity among women and disparity in wages by gender are major factors In the declining population in Japan’s rural communities. The Japanese government’s medieval approach to favor the male worker over the female contributes to the social migration of women to urban areas to increase their wages and pursue social equality. This leaves Japan’s rural areas facing a decline in future generations to carry on the family farms and communities

2 ( +3 / -1 )

pacificpilot:

Work insecurity among women and disparity in wages by gender

Are you sure there is a "disparity in wages by gender" in Japan? In Western countries this claim (different pay for the same work) has been debunked. (Also on a purely logical basis.... if women were cheaper to employ, businesses would line up to hire women whereever possible).

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I am retired here with no mortgage or any debt. I take home 3,900,000 a year. Would be more if we had a real Yen dollar rate. Never need to touch my savings.

Don't know how these young people do this kind of living especially if they are single with a child like one of my daughters. Try to help out a much as possible.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@paradox: There are not many famous female CEO's in Japan, but there are tens of thousands of successful businesswomen who run their own small and medium sized businesses.

True, they are replete with Otsuka Furniture, Sake brewery, Kyoto traditional shop operator, or Yuriko Koike or other hereditary politicians who benefited from a leg up from relatives. Regular women are inculcated to be cute, not to question early in childhood. Some exceptional heroes may take place, but the verdict is out women here are heavily discriminated against another half of their population.

Excoriating women for not getting ahead in life because they have no in-demand skills is an apocryphal tautology or Columbus egg. Given a heavy expenditure of education, the chance of in-demand skills is not equally shared across society. Concentration of hereditary wealth and power is an issue. Playing puzzle dragons on your phone has little to do with the dire and bleak prospects women here face, but well documented in Kuchikomi Jitsuwa- true stories. Please take a little bit more realistic attitude after comparing them with other women in Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. Why do you keep Nadeshiko women low in esteem?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

WilliB,

Disparity in wages by gender is easily hidden. In my former job men were paid more because they ‘did’ more. In fact, a sales person and a sales assistant did the same work: visiting customers, filling out paperwork, phone calls, pushing new products, etc.

Except the females were not allowed to go overseas because ‘it is dangerous for a woman.’ The minor fact that no ‘man’ was ever in any danger anywhere was ignored.

So, because they were labeled ‘assistants’ and didn’t go abroad, they were paid less. But officially, the government doesn’t see anything wrong with the company deciding who should get paid less based on, well, nothing but their own prejudices, really.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It used to be that as a Foreigner, you'd be a magnet for Japanese Women.

Now, as Foreigners are two a penny, and get paid like the locals it's harder to get local Women - unless you (a) Speak Fluent Japanese, and (b) have a great paying Job... it's always been (b) and this article reinforces that, so some things are changing in Japan, just not the Equality bit which is backwards.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Tom - well done on your retirement achievement. Perhaps you'd like to share the way that you've managed to obtain such an income with the rest of the younger folks and inspire them to do as you did ?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Most of them are struggling because they have heavy debts to host clubs.

If they spend less on hosts they would have enough money. Even when they make 2M a month on compensated dating they are living month by month. So this is not an income problem, just that too many are spending beyond their means.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Most of them are struggling because they have heavy debts to host clubs.

No, most of them do not have debts to host clubs. In fact, I'd say it's a very small minority that do, hardly 'most' of them.

Once again JT rhetoric gets out of hand.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Totally agree with Stranger

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Look, living in tokyo is not easy, less than for women ???. Joking ???. japanese men, u go get the hard work done by yrselves.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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