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kuchikomi

Japanese workers face horror of mass firing era

28 Comments

On Nov 17, part-time workers at carmaker Isuzu’s Tochigi plant were summoned one by one into the lounge and handed a pink slip. It read, “As you are aware, conditions are deteriorating, and production and revenue declining. Accordingly your contract will be terminated as of Dec 26.”

“In that instant, my mind went blank,” says an employee in his 40s. “What’s happening? What do I do now?”

“We are entering an era of mass firing," declares Shukan Gendai (Dec 27-Jan 3). And the damage is about to extend beyond the part-time and temp workers who have borne the brunt so far. Full-timers, prepare for the worst.

In fact, the worst has already begun. Engulfed by the global financial crisis spinning outward from the U.S., Japan faces its severest economic setback since World War Two, Shukan Gendai fears.

Already, nearly 30 major Japanese firms have announced plans to trim their full-time workforce. Worst hit are those dependent on exports, but few sectors are being spared. IBM Japan plans to shed 1,000 regular employees by year’s end; Sony, 8,000 worldwide in the course of 2009. Mizuho Securities will try to persuade 1,000 or more employees over 40 to take early retirement. Daikyo, a leading real estate firm, hopes to retire 450 employees over 40. And so on. Construction, supermarkets, clothing, jewelry -- wherever you look, it’s the same grim story.

“The first I heard about the restructuring,” says a Sony employee in his early 30s, “was an office email I got. No details were given. Every year at our company, each of us meets with the boss to discuss our job evaluations, so we all know pretty much where we stand. The bottom 10% are walking around in constant fear of the axe.”

The precarious nature of irregular employment in a shuddering economy -- and fully one-third of Japan’s work force is now irregular -- has been much publicized. Many temps and part-timers, lodged in company dorms, lose job and housing simultaneously. “In effect, they’re telling us to go ahead and commit suicide,” says one in that situation.

Full-time workers who assumed they were safe are now learning otherwise. IBM Japan, says Shukan Gendai, even has a “restructuring manual” outlining a basic procedure for edging superfluous staff out. The procedure starts with an offer of early retirement. The offer is repeated, if necessary. The employee who balks, the magazine hears from a union official, is at last issued an ultimatum: “If I don’t have your resignation within 48 hours, you will be dismissed.”

A Daikyo employee in his 40s conveys the poisonous atmosphere full-time office workers are breathing these days. “I don’t know what to do,” he tells the magazine. “I have to work for the next 20 years. If you see someone in the office talking quietly into a cell phone, you think to yourself, ‘Ah, he’s job-hunting.’ We’re all suffering the same misery. It’s the despair of working in a field with no clear future.”

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
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I remember taking a class where I needed to read a book titled "The Mirace of Life time employement in Japan". Humm... But I also had another class where it was stated that everything and everyone has a paradigmn.

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all the local family restaurants, supermarkets and conbini's in my area of Tokyo are hiring...

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The problem isn't now, it's before. Japanese companies are overstaffed to the point of waste. It's been an orgy of incompetence for decades. Ten people to do one person's job badly and with weeks of meetings. This isn't horror it's reality. Horror would be losing a job you deserve. Reality is finding out that you, along with 80% of your colleagues, are superfluous.

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The high yen will devastate Japanese business

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Welcome to the jungle.

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We've got fun and games.

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all the local family restaurants, supermarkets and conbini's in my area of Tokyo are hiring...

In mine too. And around where I work, and everywhere in between. But people are content to go to Hello!Work every day for weeks to find the same kind of job that will fire them whenever the company feels like it. And of course most people don't seem to be able to manage a savings account so they have no money to hold them over until then so they live on the street. Then they're on the news "I'm 32 and homeless! I've been working part-time since I graduated middle school and I'm not married and I was fired so now I can't live in the company dorm! Help me!"

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It's a harsh thing and I hope people find work. But it's going to get really tough. There isn't much of a "safety net" in Japan at all. You have to wonder how people who loose their jobs are going to get by.

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"I'm 32 and homeless! I've been working part-time since I graduated middle school and I'm not married and I was fired so now I can't live in the company dorm! Help me!"

I sure bet those people are truly regretting the career path they chose in the beginning. Japan is finally joining the real world at last.

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Have any Japanese companies offered employees one or two months unpaid holiday?

The problem is some people are unemployed and others have too much work and not enough free time. Let every employee work less instead of firing.

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I see someone else believes the same that I do, that the high value of the Japanese Yen is partially what is dooming the workforce of Japan today. If the value of the Yen was about 1/2 what it is now, then I think that trade would still be flourishing with Japan. But as I noted before, it is pretty darn scary that grown people panic so bad that their minds go blank when given a pink slip. That in itself is not healthy. I think Japan's workforce is getting a much needed reality check.

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This has happened before and will happen again.

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Not so much the "high value" of the yen but the toilet paper status of the dollar. In post employment Japan, The yen will eventually follow the same fate as the dollar.

Its all really very sad. The already high suicide rate will go up with unemployment. The present generation has never experienced this kind of harsh reality. The fact that they have no other coping mechanism but dependency will make the suffering all the worse. Consumerism is evil.

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There is always Mcdonald's

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Hopefully this will lead younger people to populate the rural areas and redevelop the lost farming land.

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Well, workers are no longer going to give hours and hours of free overtime to their companies as if they were servicing their lovers. Look after yourself and don't do even one minute of unpaid overtime. The company doesn't give a s*** about you, so you do likewise. Anyway japan is changing in an instant. Early next year there will be mass street protests by the vast army of hopless unemployed leading to social unrest and riots. It's going to get very hot out there so get ready people. Better get ready to defend yourself.... And too, what the hell is the suicide rate going to look like for this year?? Frightening. Not that the J government gives a damn of course.

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Although the high yen doesnt help exports, it's not the reason for mass unemployment. The average Chinese worker earns 20% of his Japanese counterpart, but China is also experiencing huge lay-offs.

Spending, the driver of the world economy is what's gone wrong, there is none. Consumerism may be evil, but as a driver for development no-one's found a finer tool.

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Many ordinary people are now paying the price for rampant credit spending emanating from the United States. How on earth were banks and finance companies allowed to lend so much money to people who had little or no credit rating. Also, how it possible for some people to have over half a dozen credit cards. In some cases borrowing off one card to pay another. It seems that the drunken credit spree has come crashing down on the innocent as well as the guilty.

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I think what this country needs is a foreigner for president! Tell 'em how it is.

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Sure, get someone who's allegedly from Kenya but is really from Hawaii, like we did.

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Well of course the suicide rate is going to rise even higher. I think many people in Japan can't deal with the real world around them and act individually; they always have to be with mommy, or the school, or the company, they have to have a "title". So many people can't deal with a breakup, job loss, etc so they kill themselves or others. It's really sad.

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Unemployment figures are incredibly understated here. when a full time worker is fired, he is practically displaced permanently. Only the top performers who get laid off for strategic reasons ever find comparable jobs. The rest are working in part time jobs, and of course out of the unemployment numbers.

The lifetime employment system used here in Japan is now bringing everything, especially the economy and society down to its knees.

The high yen is really not going to do much to boost consumer spending if people keep the money in their pockets, or under their tatami mats.

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It started in the U.S: 'Credit cards got their start in the United States just before the beginning of World War I. Department stores began the practice of issuing dog-tag style metal plates to their favorite customers. By 1924 gas credit cards appeared on the scene, the first cards that could be used at merchants all over the country. This was an important advance, because as automobiles became more common so did traveling, and a gas card that was not accepted away from home had limited value. Indeed, the increasing mobility of the average person is one very important reason that credit cards have exploded with popularity. For example, a merchant in California night not accept a personal check from a customer but would take an American Express or MasterCard without hesitation.'

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“In that instant, my mind went blank,” says an employee in his 40s. “What’s happening? What do I do now?”

Tome to open your mind and think for yourself. Life time heaven is over for japan

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I don't know losing my job and my home at the same time would probably be mind numbing for me. Still it might be time to button donw th ehatches and start the living in with parents again. Still that is just me losing the job sucks losing your lodging well blue tento or find a relative. Besides he is 40 why would another company hire him when they can get fresh and young. Medium rare or raw which one does the company like to eat.

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To be honest, Japan & China are export machines. Those workers got jobs because of the consumption from oversea markets like US & Europe. If there is no demand, business can not survive. The result is laying off the employee & declaring bankcruptcy.

US blue workers lost the jobs since 1970s because of the competition from overseas. Trading with other countries cause more pain to US. Such as NAFTA. It is time for change. Debt ridden consumers from west will not recover for sometimes. It is time for west to save instead of consumption. Japan needs a new market like US.

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Well, boo hoo hoo. If tough decisions had been made a decade or so ago, Japan wouldnt have such an inflexible workforce. But, oh no, couldnt upset the "job-for-lifers" lobby, could the ruling politicians? Would have cost too many votes, right? And now its come back to bite `em on the backside.

But the answer really lies in the workers themselves. They cant rely on anyone to look after them anymore. Anyway, the companies dont owe them a living, the government doesnt owe them a living, Japan doesnt owe them a living. You`ve gotta get out there and do it yourself. Not mope around saying "My mind went numb, what am i going to do".

And, lets face it, they have probably just lost a job they hate, with a boss and company they hate, for rubbish wages. So the company has probably done them a favour. Go do something else: drive a truck; make dresses; paint; write; mow lawns; open a bar. Do something, anything. Just dont sit around and whingecos its really, really annoying.

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