Japan Today

Common habits of Japan’s low earners - What this survey tells us, and what it doesn’t

By Fran Wrigley

A survey out this week asked 200 salarymen – office workers in Japan – about their work and lifestyle habits. The findings have been reported in the Japanese media under headlines such as “The bad habits of low earners” and “People on a low income pee in the bath – but why?!”

But this kind of survey tells us more about the survey creator’s attitude toward low-income citizens, than it does about the employees who answered it.

The survey asked 200 salarymen earning less than 3 million yen a year to answer “yes” or “no” to statements about their work and lifestyle. According to the National Tax Agency, 40% of Japanese workers have an annual income of 3 million yen or less.

The responses paint a picture of Japan’s lower-income office workers as inefficient, disengaged, and poorly dressed; 90% of the salarymen surveyed said they wear a suit that doesn’t fit, and 64% said their undershirt was visible under their dress shirt.

More worryingly, 30% said they sometimes go the whole day at work without talking to anyone, while 39% said they can’t open their desk drawers.

Investment consultant Tokio Godo says that these kinds of “bad habits” are the reason the poor stay poor. Japan’s widening income gap is “not just because they [people on a low income] have bad luck”, he says, suggesting that these lifestyle habits are the true cause.

But rather than ask people of varying incomes about their habits, and compare them, the survey only tells us about low-income people. We are then invited by analysts such as Godo to assume that these habits – some as innocuous as “I often lose one sock” (58%) – are the reason they don’t earn as much.

Telling us that low earners “often look at social networking sites while working” and “daydream during work hours” means nothing if we don’t know how many high income earners also do these things.

Looking at the percentage of “yes” responses may give us dramatic-sounding statistics, but doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of people’s lifestyles. It looks pretty shocking that in a country famed for its punctuality, 87% of respondents answered “yes” to “I turn up slightly late for [work] appointments”. But that “yes” response could include someone who was a few seconds late once ten years ago and still feels guilty about it. Perhaps in hyper-punctual Japan, where if you turn up on time you are already late, self-reporting of lateness is higher than in other countries. When we don’t know what “yes” means, it’s hard to draw conclusions from this kind of survey.

And 75% of the 200 salarymen interviewed answered “yes” to “I pee in the bathtub”. “Doesn’t everybody pee in the bath?” commented one 29-year-old respondent, a cram school teacher. “It gives me a thrill, once I started I couldn’t stop”, said a 33-year-old fishmonger. Let’s hope they live alone, or are the last one to use the bathwater in their household.

Sources: Yahoo News JP, Nikkan SPA!

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Don’t like drinking with the boss? No Promotion For You! -- Nine reasons why Japanese men hesitate to say “I love you” -- Turns out women STILL don’t want to see men’s nipples through their shirt

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Wait a minute! Do they pee in the bathwater or the shower?

“often look at social networking sites while working” 97%

Such as this site?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Pathetic losers. When I aim to lose socks, I sure as hell lose them in pairs. Matching pairs, folded together. That is why I am successful.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Bizarre survey. No one had the guts to make high-wage earners take the same survey?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good analysis and rebuttal. Always nice to see other people thinking properly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

40% of Japanese workers have an annual income of 3 million yen or less

Oh. My. God. I had no idea things were that bad... No wonder Japan is falling further into recession!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Reading a lot of Business Books? hhaha Youre joking right?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

salarymen earning less than 3 million yen a year

Salary man is an oxymoron here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Okay, let's see... I earn around £20K as an office admin, so what does that survey say about me?

Networking sites are blocked at work, so can't access them lol

I don't wear a suit to work.

I'm always early.

My desk is a mess, but I know where everything is, lol

I go to the toilet when I need to.

I only daydream if I have nothing to do... and that's rarely.

We are only one department here.

I never read business books.

Yes, my T Shirt is visible.

4th PC in 10 years, lol.

English is full of loan words.

My drawers open just fine. Stuffed, but they open lol

I always talk to people... even if on my own I will get a call and have a chat.

What this looks like is some kind of snobbery aimed at those on a lower income... hinting that they are on a lower income because they are slackers, losers, lazy... etc. I'm actually comfortable on my salary because I have pretty good job security.

And I don't pee in the bath.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The public baths and Onsens are filled with 3 mil a year earners. Wanna go & enjoy that nice warm water?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"Do you use a lot of foreign loanwords?"

Suddenly I want to eat some aisu kuriimu...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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