The year 2003 is remembered as the "Ice Age of employment," when only 60.2% of university seniors managed to line up jobs prior to graduation. But the recruitment picture for the class of 2011 is currently looking even more dismal, as the figure is down to 57.6%.
Some increasingly desperate students, reports Shukan Taishu (Dec 20), are reflexively grabbing whatever they can get. But alas, it appears growing numbers are discovering to their dismay that their new employer is a front company controlled by an organized crime syndicate.
Such companies have been popping up unexpectedly all over. It was only last year that it was discovered a Nagoya-based publisher of a guide to the city's nightlife had received an infusion of capital from the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest gang.
"It's not always easy for police to designate a yakuza front company, which will appoint 'dummy' managers with no known ties to organized crime," the reporter for a nationally circulated newspaper tells the magazine -- adding that in addition to long-term infestation into money lending, construction, real estate, building demolition and the sex industry, the gangs have quietly branched out into more respectable areas.
"Front businesses with gang involvement on the rise include food and beverage establishments, IT (information technology) and welfare-related services," the reporter says.
According to freelance journalist Tomoyuki Ueno, several years ago, a list of businesses serving as fronts for the yakuza was circulated by one of the prefectural police organizations.
"The list came to about 50 A4 pages," says Ueno. "It included florists, coffee shops, esthetic treatment parlors and a lot of businesses one wouldn't ordinarily expect to see.
"In many cases, such businesses are operated by the wives or girlfriends of gang members, but the regular employees often have no idea what they're involved in, they just think it's an ordinary job. And quite a few of them had bitter experiences as a result," Ueno adds.
Aiko Inoue (a pseudonym) tells Shukan Taishu of her own harrowing experience at a florist. "It was located near an entertainment area, and I expected that we'd get lots of orders from cabaret clubs and host clubs," she relates. "One day, I was asked by the manager to personally deliver a floral tribute to the funeral of a gang boss.
"I showed up on time, but one of the organizers snapped at me, 'You're late!' He also complained that the display's right and left sides were slightly mismatched. I just bowed and scraped. By this time, I was surrounded by several hundred hoods who showed up for the ceremony, and began wondering if I'd get out alive."
A man named Sakashita with a certificate in nursing care was in for a rude awakening when he went to work for a company running a rest home for seniors.
"But the president told me, 'All I need you for is driving.' Once on my day off I was called into work, and the vehicle I wound up driving was one of those right-wing sound trucks.
"So there I was driving around the streets with stirring martial music blasting from the speakers, and the boss directed me to drive toward a foreign embassy. When he got into a shoving match with the police, I noticed for the first time that he was tattooed all over."
This is not to imply that employment in such firms is entirely bad. For one thing, they are known to pay higher remuneration than other companies, and staff recreation may even include an expenses-paid romp in a soapland. But typically their working conditions are demanding. And even those who work up the courage to resign are likely to be told their resignation wasn't accepted. "Then they have no choice but to disappear," says the aforementioned reporter.
Unfortunately, that won't solve the problem, as the company will track down their guarantor (typically the parents) and shake them down for compensation, claiming that the abrupt resignation caused them losses.
Hideki Sugawara, a personnel management consultant, warns that as students become more desperate to land jobs after graduation, predatory recruitment by such front companies may increase. To avoid trouble, he advises, candidates need to refrain from insisting on a position with a major firm and should instead carefully investigate the business field they hope to enter, as well potential employers.© Japan Today