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New breed of employees can’t communicate and wilt under pressure

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Heard the one about the company employee who got chewed out by her boss? Next day she was absent. Around mid-morning, there came a call from her mother: “My daughter’s afraid of her boss. Couldn’t she be transferred to a different department?”

Or how about the bank freshman inadvertently passed over by an office memo making the rounds. He burst into tears and sobbed, “If I’m being ignored, I quit!”

Shukan Asahi (Oct 23) has a collection of anecdotes like these. The humor inspired by company recruits is no doubt as old as company recruiting, but this year’s crop is different, the magazine says. The significant milestone they represent is the entry on the corporate scene of the first full-fledged members of the “relaxed education” generation.

Relaxed education (“yutori kyoiku” in Japanese) is actually traceable back to 1977, the bare beginning of a gradual softening of the forced feeding that characterized postwar education. Emphasis back then was on a rote memorization of facts. It was so rigorous it seemed to produce psychological symptoms, varying from shrinking timidity to aggressive bullying. Common to both extremes, and to much in between as well, was a perceived inability to think creatively and flexibility, to deal with any situation that wasn’t in the manual.

In 1992, lesson hours were reduced and "yutori kyoiku" began to define the school atmosphere. In 2002, the process climaxed with an end to Saturday classes and a 30% reduction of the curriculum. Teaching, once defined in terms of “guidance,” shifted to a less intensive “support” mode as students concentrated on developing their individuality first, their knowledge second.

Kids who entered elementary school in 1992 are 24 today, and entering the work force en masse -- the first generation of recruits educated from the beginning in a comparatively “relaxed” manner. To Shukan Asahi and the employers it speaks to, they are relaxed to a fault, almost to the point of being dysfunctional.

As the magazine tells it, they can’t communicate, have no sense of responsibility or esprit de corps, and wilt under pressure. Even going drinking with the bosses after hours -- a time-honored practice in Japanese corporate circles -- is too much trouble for them; they persistently decline invitations that previous generations of recruits regarded as an honor. The upshot is that the boss wanting to bring the team together for conviviality and mutual encouragement, must do so over lunch, which has the distinct advantage, from the youngsters’ point of view, of ending at a fixed time.

“I assigned a freshman staffer to design new teaching material,” Shukan Asahi hears from the director of a leading juku (cram school). “When he didn’t do it and I gave him hell, instead of reflecting on his behavior, he just grinned and flashed the peace sign at me. And this is someone who’s been to grad school!”

Mitsubishi-Tokyo-UFJ Bank has developed its own response. Of this spring’s 530 new career-track hires, more than 100 have been deemed so lacking in basic manners that they’re being sent to do time as volunteers at welfare facilities.

“This experience will help them understand what it means to be a member of society and to see things from other people’s point of view,” a bank personnel officer tells the magazine.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Wow, I am the first to comment on this or did people not find this topic interesting? Anyway, like what the bank is doing and hopefully they will do this across the board and change the damn schools around.

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“I assigned a freshman staffer to design new teaching material,” Shukan Asahi hears from the director of a leading juku (cram school). “When he didn’t do it and I gave him hell, instead of reflecting on his behavior, he just grinned and flashed the peace sign at me. And this is someone who’s been to grad school!”

This is too funny. He could have flicked the kid back with the American Universal finger, and then kicked the kid out of the office.

Poor Mitsubishi. They hired a hundred losers. Why wasn't it caught before the got to sign on?

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New breed of employees can’t communicate and wilt under pressure-same as the old breed,then.My wife's mum complains about these young trainees all the time for the same reasons stated above..poor work ethic,sluggish and no ability to think for themselves. 'Yutori Kyoiku''kokoro no kyoiku'...it is all rubbish and all it has led to that I have seen is a bunch of kids that have even more of an excuse to run away from life and anything 'hard' and 'mendokusai' and that seems to stay with them forever.I have a situation at my school where kids can volunteer themselves into the 'counselling' section,where they spend their 3 high school years secluded from other kids,come when they want,do test when they want, and after 3 years they have less ability to talk to other humans and look them in the eye than they did when they arrived. Stop the cop-out Japan.

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I wonder what UFJ count as 'basic manners'? Probably a bit more than just a nice smile and a polished meishi exchange.

Also, 'no sense of responsibility' probably means they dont sit at their desks until 10pm despite finishing all the work that they had to do by 5pm, just because their boss is still there. Due to better schooling that isnt all just memorization and do-as-I-do repetitive tasks, they can probably get their jobs done quicker, or have just thought up some better ways of getting stuff done.

I would say that it is quite possible that this new generation actually CAN communicate, and are just refusing to put up with whatever crap their boss throws at them. They probably have friends outside of work and want to hang out with these people, rather than co-workers that they may have something in common with. The occassional work get together is important, but the compulsory drinking thing is a bit too much I think.

However, the guy at the top of the article that burst into tears probably backs up the article's main point I guess...

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Also, I think the softest guy here is the cram school director. If I told my staff to do something, and they refused and gave me a 'peace sign' when I reprimanded them, they would no longer have a job.

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This is only a problem if the behavior of older employees at large companies is taken as "normal" and that of new recruits seen as aberrant. I think it's the other way around--the older generation is out of step with new ways of conducting business, and can't understand that the gap is as much their doing as it is a problem with their recruits.

Still, I think the yutori kyoiku policies are a net negative--they took out huge chunks of curriculum, and essentially replaced them with nothing of value.

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I work in China and we have the same problem here. Even the most gifted graduates with dreams of joining a foreign company/working abroad usually end up working on the assembly line with a screwdriver. They totally lack the creative and imaginative input large companies demand of their employees to stay ahead of the competition.

Many more large companies in China (esp. Hong Kong) are being criticized for recruiting foreign talent out of necessity.

I can't help wondering if many of Japan's large companies in the future will solve this problem the same way.

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So the new breed of Japanese workers can't think for themselves and are lazy, while the old breed can't think for themselves and work hard?

Fascinating cultural shift there.

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It's Japanese culture. A bunch of children.

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aaahhhh,hmmmmmmmmmm,etoooooo, eh doshiooooooooooo, ara,aaaaaaagghh just fire me!

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Even going drinking with the bosses after hours—a time-honored practice in Japanese corporate circles—is too much trouble for them; they persistently decline invitations that previous generations of recruits regarded as an honor.

How absolutely terrible!

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not so different from the old breed

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I can't help wondering if many of Japan's large companies in the future will solve this problem the same way.

Hong Kong has the advantage of being one of the world-famous 4 tigers and a superior English system, opening thousands of doors to foreign talents.

Japan on the other hand...is losing it's place as the second largest economy (to China), depopulation, and has these new breed employees.

I don't think that it's a disparity between old and new employees that's the problem, it's society as a whole here. Thinking outside the box is heavily discouraged and when there's confusion, they have to get someone else to tell them what to do.

I see it in schools, the post office, the bank, and now I see it in the workforce. There needs to be societal changes; deep-seated problems have arisen now that the bubble's mask of money has dissipated.

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Well, what else would you expect from people who spend one-half their waking lives with their eyes glued to the screens of a mobile phone or video game?

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Yes these "new" employees have a life and don't want to sit in the office until midnight or go drinking with their stinky oyaji bosses. And these old gits, who have given up their lives for their companies, just don't like it.

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This article is missing the point. People seem to think that this 'relaxed' education is to blame for lazy, non-conformist employees. Education should neither be relaxed nor strict. Rather, it should teach students to respect others, to think for themselves, to be creative and imaginative and to communicate well. Personally, I am glad that employees are declining invitations to drink after work. It means they are not simply complying.

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I should also add that the attitude of 'more and harder work' is better must be abandoned. The whole education system has to change so that young people are well prepared to enter the workforce. This means teaching students in a way that they learn for the sake of learning.

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Totally with you on that one Dolphingirl. In the 7 years Ive been here there seems to have just been a constant culture of "OK...weve been in recession X years...the old way doesnt seem to be working for us anymore....so....lets just throw more bodies at the problem and work even harder at doing what weve always done because we don`t know any other way to do it. It worked in the past and it WILL work again, we are just not working hard enough."

Unfortunately, the younger generation who have watched all this are coming through and saying "Bugger that for a game of soldiers", confounding the "old gits" (love that expression whoever used that!) even more.

And the root of all this - yep, definitely in the education system in my opinion, but not for the reasons they think. It makes zero difference whether the system is too strict or too lax, you take away any creativity and free-thinking and you are going to wind up with a bunch of graduates who cant think for themselves but can follow orders (as before) or a bunch of graduates who cant think for themselves and just refuse to follow orders (as now).

Why is this not stating the bleeding obvious? Because those that make the decisions (MEXT) are ultimately products of the same system!

Oh, and I would just say if someone working for me didnt do his job and flashed the peace sign at me when I complained he would be out on his butt. I also wonder if these are the calibre of people that Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ hired, who on earth did they reject???! Someones head needs to roll in the recruitment dept.

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Even going drinking with the bosses after hours—a time-honored practice in Japanese corporate circles—is too much trouble for them; they persistently decline invitations that previous generations of recruits regarded as an honor. - you mean people are going to be shudder spending quality time with their families?!?

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there came a call from her mother:

This is the real problem.

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cow76 wrote: you mean people are going to be shudder spending quality time with their families?!?**

I know, right? I mean, perish the thought! Young people actually want to have lives that DON'T revolve solely around their work? They actually want to leave the office at the end of the day and SOCIALIZE? Maybe they actually want to go home and SEE THEIR FAMILIES? What the HELL is wrong with this country!? My GOD, this kind of behavior must be STAMPED OUT!

Yes, okay, I'm going a little overboard, but give me a break. Reading this article, all I envision is a bunch of tired old fossils complaining about the poor work ethic of the newest crop of "whippersnappers." Um... so? If you really don't like them, fire them and hire someone who better suits your company. There are plenty of out of work people out there who'll be MORE than happy to accept the "honor" of going out drinking with their crusty old boss after work every night if it means they get to take home a paycheck.

I don't support lazy workers, mind you. That kid who flashed his boss the peace sign? He would have been fired in a heartbeat if it had been me sitting across the desk from him. At the very least he'd have gotten a letter of reprimand in his permanent file. But I'm not going to throw all of these youngsters to the wolves as being lazy, layabout good for nothings with no work ethic when I know it's not true. The modern workplace is a bustling, busy place, constantly in flux. The old model of doing business that so many companies employ is tired, stale, and BORING. This is the generation that grew up with Nintendo, Playstation, cell phones and the internet. Even without the mess of the Japanese educational system getting in the way, you can't expect these young people to come into an office system that's still structured like something you'd have found back in the 80's and then be shocked when they're unproductive and slow. The workplace has to catch up with the workers, not vice versa. A lot of that boredom, lack of productivity and absence of manners could be cured by encouraging innovation, experimentation, and imagination to keep them interested and to give them a sense of belonging to an organization that sees them as vital pieces of a puzzle, not nameless cogs in a wheel. But that's not the workplace situation for many of these new recruits, so they end up goofing off and behaving badly in an environment that stifles creativity, individuality and, by and large, morale.

"Big Boy" business should stay in the boardroom. The rest of a corporation, though, needs to grow up and get with the times. Going out to drink with your boss is only appreciated if you know you can say "No" without being excoriated in the press for your "cheekiness."

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I was never a wilter but worked with a few. There was of course also the bully, the slacker, the undecider and many other office stereotypes. I was the quiet driven one that no one wanted to set off into a great maelstrom of F bombs, most people just stay out of my way. I would have a very hard time fitting into Japanese office drone culture.I'd say the problem is that the older employees are so rigid that they can't deal with the younger generation.

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I've actually seen all these examples working in America. The difference is probably that it's more common in Japan. If you've seen Office Space, the reason it's funny is besides some exaggerations it hits pretty close to home.

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While there are ripe apples that fall off the University tree in Japan, many of them enter a company that has no idea what to do with them. The management often ignores them and makes them "train" for 3 months to a year before they find their desk. Often they are expected to do meaningless busy work.

A former co-worker worked in Sales (before being transfered to work with me), on the 1st day the guy he was supposed to be working with said that their blood type was not a match, therefore they wouldn't get along. His work consisted of answering the phone...

In the end, the many managers do not know how to cultivate the new talent. The new kids don't know how to be proactive and aggressive.

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can’t communicate and wilt under pressure

they persistently decline invitations that previous generations of recruits regarded as an honor.

Sounds like they can communicate their lack of interest in keeping up appearances, and unlike the older generations of sheep,tell their superiors what they really think. Standing up to your boss doesn't sound like wilting under pressure to me. Everyone has already said it - the old fossils, and the writer of this ridiculous drivel - are just wide of the mark. I don't think it's anything to do with Yutori education either, but the problem is with the education system. Yutori education has shown up the system's inadequacies, because students no longer have to shut up and put up with it, and are used to saying whatever they think. Communication skills need to be taught well, and in a structured way, through doing. Most teachers here have no training in how to get students to learn to work effectively in groups. It's a process that takes years for the students to develop. I see the difference in returnee students, when I compare them with their regular, never-left-Japan counterparts. No wonder most students don't know how to be both creative and take the initiative while working in a team. Yutori education didn't really take away all the blind heirarchical obedience b#ll#cks - you can just see them all out, doing their military drills for weeks before sports day to realise that. They've just, with a Japanese talent, managed to preserve the worst of the old while only importing the most superficial of the new, without thinking of what they really want to achieve with it.

Will the last one out please turn off the lights?

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Hong Kong has the advantage of being one of the world-famous 4 tigers and a superior English system, opening thousands of doors to foreign talents.

Gaijinochio....

HK has no distinctive advantage over any country (I'm living and woring here now so I can say that for sure) in the sense that this is a generational problem globally. You have a generation of kids coming into the workforce who have enjoyed the benefits of a scoiety becoming more affluent. They're the PSP / Nintendo DS generation. Kids who's parent bought them new in toys , went to school and came home to play computer games etc etc...they probably hardly played team sports like football, rugny, soccer or whatever and as such do not know how to co-operate and appreciate team work. Hell they've probably never played in a park and had a sandlot fight! We tend to call them the greenhouse flowers in that they've been brought up in a very protective environment.

In my line of work, the Greenwich Surveys mean a lot, client feedback about how we're doing. One of my colleagues got a shit load of ppor comments from her client and all she could do was bitch and moan about this and that. As her boss, I just wondered, is she thinking through about her feedback? Where there's smoke there's a fire right? Even if the house was burning down, a lot of these younger kids who started working just wouldn't care!

Moderator: Back on topic please.

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Yes these "new" employees have a life and don't want to sit in the office until midnight or go drinking with their stinky oyaji bosses. And these old gits, who have given up their lives for their companies, just don't like it.

I agree.

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my brother in law is director of a small company and told me more than once that he has had new hires quit after their work is criticized, not even yelled at or anything. some don't even call to say the quit they just don't show up or answer their phones. but personally, i don't think its the education systems, its the way they are raised by their parents.

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all they have to do is work for themselves, start their own businesses and then they can leave the militaristic company styles behind. It's not the 1950s anymore.

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After hours drinking binges will have to end. What next? Actually working during the day? Leaving all work at 6pm?

Dare to dream Japan, dare to dream

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Sounds like change is in the wind. It's good. Tough times for now, but it'll be better in the future. Husbands who know their famalies etc..

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Manners shouldn't have anything to do with education systems. Manners should be taught by PARENTS. Schools should be providing knowledge of history, language, science, math, etc etc. PARENTS should be providing kids with manners, common courtesy, and moral values which in turn aid their kids in making friends and networks. As far as I've seen, many parents rely way too much on schools to prepare their kids for life... in Japan, AND where I have lived in the US and Canada.

As far as obligatory dinners and drinks, the older generation just needs to learn to deal with the younger peoples' way of thinking and find other ways of communicating with the young generation other than getting drunk.

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The true cause of this loss of discipline is the decline of 7/3 man. Now that's a haircut you can set your watch to!

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Might email/text messaging be another factor in the lack of communication skills of the younger generation as well?

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"Or how about the bank freshman inadvertantly passed over by an office memo making the rounds. He burst into tears and sobbed, "if I'm ignored, I quit!"

LOL..

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Parents.

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wow i like the way that education is becoming to relaxing and easy for kids. Every kid i know is usually at JHS till 6-7 and is there on the weekend because of club. Then dont get me started on high school because that place is just crazy. So some people cant take the pressure in the office or dont do their job well. Isnt that the same every where in the world? They dont go drinking after work with the boss, well good for them, they get paid till 5pm i guess then if it were me id want to go back to my FAMILY not drink with my boss thank you. Just accept that the work culture might be changing and that it might not be a bad thing. We might even get some workers rights, or laws that enforce breaks during the day or maybe a workers union??? nah, probably not though, can you imagine japanese workers striking? hahaha

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Working for a Japanese company sucks. It really does. I'd love to quit.

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I beg to differ. I've worked for Japanese bosses and gaijin bosses and I'll give the nod to the former. Sorry, Jizzeez, if your job hasn't worked out, but I can't agree with you at all. I got a tremendous learning experience about this country, and about life. And made some deep friendships that have stood the test of time. But based on what this article says, if I were to do it again, in this day and age, I might find my co-workers a bit to self-absorbed and dysfunctional for my tastes.

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Old Japanese men (bosses) can communicate? Sure, mostly silly old bullies. Young people have their heads in the mobile phone and jyuku too much so no social skills being developed. On top of it who wants to go wasting their time drinking away the days earnings with bosses and kissing their arses. Not to mention about a hundred other social problems that add to this situation.

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Read the article idiots! It says that there once was a period where work was too harsh, now work is too easy. Japan has jumped to an extreme, once work was too serious, but relaxed ideals have lead to sloth. I work in Japanese schools and the kids get away with too much. When students misbehave the Teahers do nothing, two days ago I saw a student call a teacher 'Baka!' and the teacher as usual did nothing, that shouldn't fly even in a Western school.

New-age Japanese Teachers want students to be creative because they've given in to pinko ideals, but the students just take the liberty for granted. An adolesents mind is full of crap, give it an inch it will take a mile.

As for video games and texts being responsible that's absurd, that's like someone saying that football is the cause of all rape, bashings and racism in the modern world. (Well okay footbal is most likly responsible for numerous rapes and bashings.)

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Glad this breaks the stereotypical Japanese "samurai" worker.

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I wish boss can be scary when talking to 60,70,80,..... years old Ojiichan who does not work much but just enjoying tea time all day long, I wish time comes for these people to retire.

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What most people miss to see are the implications of these observations.

If these reports are more than mere new propaganda, then Japan lost the age group between 35 - 45 as unmotivated, the group between 25 - 35 as focusing on working as "freeter" and now the new breed of employees. Additionally the workforce is declining rapidly due to the over aging problem.

All this must lead -sooner or later- into a decline of Japanese economical power in the world with severe implications on the wealth and self-image of the Japanese population. We have already seen a shocking shift in the political world said to be driven by fear of the population to lose their self-understanding, that jobs and pensions are safe enough not to need to worry.

If this trend does on, it can rip the very foundation of this country into pieces.

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2Jizzeez: why? is it so bad?

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This current group of grads are going to pose a significant economic problem for the Japanese economy. I have noticed this change over the last several years because our group deals with volunteers of high school and college age.

Balance is all fine and good in a perfect world but Japan exists as a country with no measure of marketable raw materials sans highly educated, motivated, cohesive employees willing to work harder than their counterparts in competing economies. As the workforce of Japan approaches par with other industrial nations, their economy will be left in shreds.

The pseudo personal freedom that they think they have gained by foolishly downgrading the educational culture will end in a new serfdom as the cost of living and years of inflation and the resulting inability to handle the draconian inheritance taxes here will gut the finances of the majority of families soon to be led by freeters drastically shrinking the middle class. The monied will always be there to take advantage of whatever economy they have to manipulate.

In our organization, I have seen the same thing over and over. People failing to complete tasks disappear when asked to take responsibility, people failing to manage their time and refusing to comply to the time requirements of the group and a complete disregard for any sense of group. Hahahaha, and yes I have been contacted by more than one parent suggesting that having their spineless offspring bear responsibility is just asking to much.

Goodbye Japan Inc, it was a nice run while it lasted.

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I have to agree with the posts that are stating that things have swung too far the other way. Sure no one wants these grads to be subjected to some of the oji-san brutality but work is a little like school, at some point you need to stand up and be counted. You can't keep on running to mummy and daddy. I feel sorry for the parents because they are going to have to support this lot into their 60's and beyond and with Japanese taxes and all I don't know how they will be able to afford it and when they pass away how will this lot survive? I think Japan will end up being a playground for rich/wealthy tourists and foreigners who live there.

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Mitsubishi-Tokyo-UFJ Bank has developed its own response. Of this spring’s 530 new career-track hires, more than 100 have been deemed so lacking in basic manners that they’re being sent to do time as volunteers at welfare facilities. “This experience will help them understand what it means to be a member of society and to see things from other people’s point of view,” a bank personnel officer tells the magazine.

That's the first sensible thing I've read today. And how refreshing that they didn't just terminate the contracts of the 'more than 100'. But maybe they don't take staff on for a couple of months trial like in the UK, leaving people being chucked out for any old reason at the end of their few months. I hope those useless children (because that's how they behave) actually learn something useful from this experience. If not, maybe they could be sent en-masse to some war/quake/typhoon-torn country and learn how to build them decent homes.

One of my relatives (hubby's relatives actually,) is a junior high teacher, and is frequently frustrated, not just by the attitudes of the students which were fostered in a feeble-minded elementary school, but by the attitudes of the parents. Me, Mine, Want, Do it my way, My child needs more, Give lessons suited to my child. Not to mention the fact that they yak away non-stop and leave their keitais on high volume when visiting the school during class-time. Very rude and ill-mannered, not to mention unbelievably stupid and irresponsible.

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Hmm. Japan has weak losers. OK. That means more pie for me. If someone is working on their own or in a small business, they would be able to run rings around the slackers. That has been true lately. Maybe it has always been true. Some other truisms are implied by the article:

--the 80/20 rule

--you can't judge a book by its cover

--the cream rises to the top

etc.

Pardon me for saying that all this seems rather encouraging. If a person is playing heads up ball, they are realizing that doing 10 times the work of a normal person is not just a dream anymore. Getting paid 10 times more for doing simple tasks, if it can be done, puts Darwin back in the driver's seat. Japan is the new land of opportunity for ambitious people.

Shall I share an anecdote? I was walking through an area near Ueno last week and it was early. The stores had not opened up. I found a few small street stands under the tracks where people were just starting to put out merchandise. For different reasons, I needed some walking shoes and did not want to wait around for OIOI to open. I saw some in my size at a stand, and it was a half hour before opening. I asked the vendor how much they were, and he said, "We aren't open yet." I started laughing. I was ready to plunk down 7-10000 yen for a pair of walking shoes, and the guy is telling me, apparently, that he can't handle it without his morning coffee. Idiot. In 30 minutes, he would be shouting IRRASHAIMASE and I would be long gone. It is high time that the early birds take back Japan from the drunkards, fogies, and slackers.

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I don't confuse idiot shopping with business. If he wasn't open yet why get in his face about it?

You ended up being forced to wait anyway, or to go shopping somewhere else so what was the point? That he wasn't desperate enough for your business is not the same as a population who are afraid of working hard.

Knowing who your clients are and when to be open is also business. Maybe he didn't think you were worth the time.

Back to the topic please.. the issue is young people and their inability to cope. Not having to deal with a difficult overbearing customers and having set business hours is also a blessing.

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@ Yelnats - 'The finger' is NOT american in origin - it is european, probably from the med region and is written about as early as ancient rome.

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I worked in a Japanese company that was full of the old school guys, where work defined your life and the boss told you when to breathe and take a crap. Unimaginably awful. I stopped going as well, and pledged to myself never to work for a Japanese company again.

It's the only thing you can do when dealing with dinosaurs.

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Social darwinism will sort 'em all out eventually...

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