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Changing jobs in a pandemic no easy task

9 Comments

“Hiroshi Nishiyama” (all names in this story are pseudonyms) was working part-time for a food processing plant when coronavirus struck. He’s 46, single and living with his parents. His needs are few, his wants minimal. His 150,000-yen-a-month pay, wretchedly inadequate under other circumstances, sufficed for him. He liked his job, and even more the free time it allowed him. He’d work his four-hour early-morning shift, and the rest of the day was his.

The state of emergency declared last March derailed him. His company sold prepared bentos to schools and offices. As they closed, his workload fell. His hours were reduced. What if he were laid off altogether? At his age, once unemployed could mean permanently unemployed.

His story is part of a report by Spa! (Feb 16) on “corona job change hell.” Nishiyama appears in it as an exception. Things worked out rather well for him. A neighborhood gas station was looking for a full-time night-shift staffer. Nishiyama applied. Luckily, back in high school, he’d obtained a license to handle dangerous materials. He got the job. He now earns 350,000 a month.

A more typical story is “Ken Kimura.” All his life he’d been interested clothes, fashions. The job he landed fresh out of school suited him perfectly. It was part-time and low-paying – 200,000 a month – but in a clothing store, in rural Iwate Prefecture. He’s 34, married, no children. Low cost of living and modest ambitions, combined with an agreeable work environment, can make for a happy life. Kimura was happy. Then came the virus, the emergency, the abrupt layoff: “Your services are no longer required.” The world went black before his eyes.

It was so sudden. What was he to do? Depression set in before he could start to think seriously. Finally he pulled himself together. He’d better start job-hunting.

That’s always painful – doubly so during an epidemic. Iwate back then had zero infections. “I didn’t want to be the first,” he tells Spa! – and so he confined himself to remote searching. He found something – part-time work in a smartphone shop. His knowledge was thin, his qualifications non-existent, but there was the opening, and he took it.

He floundered through his days. The virus drove sales down. His boss was irritable. “I was always getting chewed out,” he says. There was in addition the constant fear of infection as he dealt with customers face to face. His depression deepened. He quit. What next?

This part-time job, that part-time job, each more short-lived than the last. He’s now making 900 yen an hour at a cell phone repair depot, hoping eventually to be taken on full time. “All I’m asking,” he says, “is for a little stability in life.”

“Reimi Tajima,” 29, was a nurse. The hospital she worked at did not admit coronavirus patients, but did provide PCR testing for infection, and besides, any patient coming in – she worked in the emergency ward – was a potential risk, as she was well aware, perhaps hyper-aware. Other nurses were quitting but she was determined not to. She had chosen her line of work, and loved it. But it was all growing too much – the increased work load, long hours, the impossibility of any family or social life, and the constant fear of infection. She cracked at last under the strain. She quit – with tears in her eyes, thinking of her lost career and of the burden her absence would impose on her colleagues.

She signed up with a job dispatch agency and became a temp worker, taking whatever short-term office work turned up. As a full-time nurse she’d earned 480,000 yen a month. Now she makes 280,000.

“I didn’t quit because I wanted to,” she stresses to Spa! She dreams of going back to what she feels is her true profession. With an anti-corona vaccine here at last, she may soon be able to.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

9 Comments
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was working part-time for a food processing plant when coronavirus struck. He’s 46, single and living with his parents. His needs are few, his wants minimal. His 150,000-yen-a-month pay, wretchedly inadequate under other circumstances, sufficed for him. He liked his job, and even more the free time it allowed him. He’d work his four-hour early-morning shift, and the rest of the day was his.

No ambition.

Lazy.

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of Japanese men are like this. And we’re not even talking about the niito and hikikomori.

( Japanese society has some serious problems )

In this case, he was lucky, but(!) others can’t say the same thing.

...

Changing jobs in a pandemic no easy task

And these are Japanese ...

...

Let’s not forget all the “gaijin” out there “with a much more complicated task”.

Good luck to you all.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

My opinion is, “Why didn’t you study harder when you were younger? “ The nurse obviously did, but she had no backbone.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

If hard work were the road to wealth and security then the average woman of any Central African republic would be a billionaire.

And as Warren Buffett repeated :

" If you are trading your time for a wage and not making money when you are sleeping, then you are poor."

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It was part-time and low-paying – 200,000 a month

Ummm... working part-time and taking home 200,000 yen? That's maybe around 20 hours a week in the fashion industry? What did he do? Was he in sales?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ummm... working part-time and taking home 200,000 yen? That's maybe around 20 hours a week in the fashion industry? What did he do? Was he in sales?

Probably commission sales in one of those chain retail shops that sell inexpensive suits, shirts and ties.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Dirk, if “Ken Kimura” was a retail clerk on commission, he was damn good at sales. Working part-time selling suits in rural Iwate prefecture and taking home 200,000 yen is impressive. Poor guy, I hope he lands another good job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

His 150,000-yen-a-month pay, wretchedly inadequate under other circumstances, sufficed for him

...because he's living with his parents, in a benign parasitism endemic across Japanese society.

Bigger parasites in turn prey on the smaller, adding scant value in a reductionist death spiral.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nurses aren't going out of fashion. I'd imagine she can rejoin at any time after this calms down.

The surprising thing is that she found short-term office work with a dispatch company that pays 280,000 a month for a nurse, not an experienced office worker who can do wizardry with specialist accounting software, shorthand, or some other advanced office skill. I don't think even "iryou jimu" (admin work for a hospital or clinic) pays that much. It doesn't in inaka.

(Presumably the lady also had a few months on unemployment benefit for 2/3 or so of her nursing salary)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A neighborhood gas station was looking for a full-time night-shift staffer. 

Don't poo-poo those seemingly menial jobs. Recently, a clerk at a local gas station mistakenly put gasoline in the container a customer had brought in for kerosene, who blithely drove away with it. Every squad car had to patrol the streets within a few kilometers of the station, speakers blaring a warning for the guy whose polyurethane container contained death.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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