Don’t like drinking with the boss? No promotion for you

By Oona McGee

In Japan, husbands often hand over their pay packets to their wives, who are the chief financial controllers for the household. Husbands then receive a fraction of their pay in the form of a monthly allowance, which has to cover costs such as cell phone charges, lunches and all-important networking and relations-building "nomikai," or work drinking parties.

According to a survey by Shinsei Bank, the average office worker receives an allowance of 39,600 yen a month. But when the average cost for attending a drinking party is 2,860 yen, and one lunch is an average of 510 yen a day, many workers are now choosing to skip out on after work drinks. What they don’t realize is that this attempt to save some yen is actually jeopardising their careers.

Here are some comments from office workers in their 30s about their tight financial situations:

“Drinking parties are a waste of money, so even though I’m invited I don’t go. If you continually refuse, then they stop inviting you so it’s not a problem.”

“Abenomics has nothing to do with my situation. I’m stuck because business is in a slump.”

“Nothing will improve for me because even if my income increases, my monthly allowance will stay the same.”

That’s quite a bleak outlook to say the least.

Some office workers receive a monthly allowance of 10,000 yen or less. While we hope there’s a daily packed lunch included with this type of deal, it’s easy to understand why these employees skip out on drink get-togethers, with the common, firm belief that “drinking parties are a waste of money.”

Certainly, with such little spending money, it would be difficult to scrounge up any drinking money. It would help if the importance of "nomi-nication" (the relatively unbridled state of communication that flows under the influence of alcohol) were to become a thing of the past.

Management consultant Shinsuke Suzuki, however, is certain that "nomi-nication" remains an important part of workplace relations, asserting that, “office workers who decline invitations to drinking parties can’t get promoted.”

“So far, as a consultant, I’ve been involved with 100 or more companies, and I’ve found we’re in an era where some employees aren’t realizing the importance of 'nomi-nication.' I think this is essentially why the office workers who do proactively attend drinking parties end up getting ahead more easily.”

Making the effort to attend drinking parties is often a simple way to show your commitment to work relationships.

“At the end of the day, impressions are everything when it comes to human relations in the workplace. To a large extent, if you’re not an employee with a specialised technical skill, then there’s nothing to really distinguish you from the other workers. So if you want to stand out and get promoted, attending drinking parties and building up an in-house network is much more effective than simply working your heart out at work.

“Of course, there will be people who think, ‘A party organizer is such a low and useless level of work. I should be assessed for my work performance at work,'" Suzuki said. "But these people are missing the point. If you show that you can organize a party, then you’re also showing that you can complete work projects and you have good people skills.”

But what about those on a tight monthly budget?

“Office workers who skimp on their drinking money are probably more likely to be fond of the term “cost performance”. But cost performance isn’t just about short-term goals. Of course I’m not saying that if you attend drinking parties you’ll definitely get promoted, but often it’s a handy shortcut. If you want to get promoted and earn more money, then really, it’s better cost performance in the long run to not skimp on your drinking money," Suzuki said.

It seems that if you want to get ahead in business on a tight budget, you might just have to skip lunch and go out drinking with the boss instead. Your body may not thank you for it but your future wallet will.

Sources: Nikkan Spa

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- How the Salarymen and Women of Japan Make Ends Meet -- 24% of Workers in Japan Have Less Than $2.84 to Spend on Lunch -- Why Foreign Businessmen are Receiving Lessons on Doing Business the Japanese Way

© RocketNews24

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In Japan, husbands often hand over their pay packets to their wives,

In Japan, I believe most people are paid via bank deposits, are they not? I mean, in the decades I've worked here and been paid, only one company gave me cash and then they only did it for about six months. Anyone have differing experiences?

Basically this article says you schmooze, you win. Be friends of the people who promote you and you get promoted. Not unlike many countries in the world, I suspect. It's often called "networking." Why promote someone you don't know? On their ability? Come on, be surreal.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I should be my company's CEO by now then ;(

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I like drinking, just not with the boss. Even worse if a female employee as not just waste of time and money but also have to pour drinks, giggle at ridiculous male colleagues and endure end of evening drunken groping and innuendo

4 ( +5 / -1 )

in other words, this is a form of networking..

but why employees are expected to pay when this could surely be picked up by the company.. listed as a business expense or what not

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't drink, so I suppose I'm sunk before I start.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Beer sounds good right now..

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Men need to put their big boy pants on and take back control of their hard earned money from their wives who are not their mothers.. and will spend money on designer bags, shoes, lunch with the girls, designer crap for the children, Y200,000 baby strollers... all for their ego.. and their children.. men only a support unit for free spending women ... then they can go out drinking and socializing.. the best thing is not to get married until you have achieved some success.. live close to the office and just work your butt off and go out with women who have jobs and can afford to buy a round of drinks instead of just sucking off men like their daddies.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

Of Course not I don't kiss the ass of no body I do my job, I do what my boss says in the work field I say Good Bye ! and See you tomorrow and go home, next day I start over again. If my boss don't gave me a promotion and he gave for other I going to the Department of Labor of Japan and I sued my boss and my company allow discrimination and not equal labor opportunity and over work without my will if I don't drink with my boss I won't get any work or future in my work. You need respect your right as employee and you free will if you don't like drink or you wanna go to see your family after a long day of working is your right. For Law of Department of Labor of Japan is 40 hours per week of work, if my boss need me overtime I stay but he need pay me over time one hourand half. You need respect your right !!!

-2 ( +7 / -9 )


... go out with women who have jobs and can afford to buy a round of drinks instead of just sucking off men like their daddies.

Is that what you really meant to say?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Person A spends a lot of time and money drinking with the boss in order to get a promotion.

Person B works an extra hour of overtime and goes home.

Even if person A gets a promotion he may be no better off financially than person B since he has missed out on the overtime pay and spent a fortune on beer. He might find that his promotion makes him a "manager" and he loses his overtime payments in return for a small increase in salary. Plus, he will be lumbered with extra duties and responsibilities, causing stress. He'll probably also be overweight from all the boozing and die sooner.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Joshua - sound like you need a drink.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This is a great subject!!! Sure the most capable and effective people will get the promotions but would you promote someone you don't get along with? When you are considering moving someone up, meaning this person will spend more time in direct contact with you, this person has to be a pleasant company at least from 8 to 5. Better yet if this person can also be fun when going out with clients and representing the firm in nomikais, bbqs or beergardens etc without getting wasted and a pain in the b... neither sitting all alone all night.

It is no wonder people with people skills will go further in his or hers careers as long as it is coupled with good professional achievements. One without the other will translate into a much less successful career. I don't think this is only in Japan. But since there is very little room to socialize during work that these nomikais tend to weight more when judging one's character.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Sure the most capable and effective people will get the promotions but would you promote someone you don't get along with?

Disagreement is an important factor for managers considering promoting others. Some weak managers perceive disagreement as a sign of not getting along. But the opposite course means promoting apple-polishers and yes-men (and women). It won't take very long for the organization to suffer the consequences.

The real value of nomikai may be the forum they provide for disagreement. The important point in your message, I think, is the reality that a promotion is as much a social decision as it is a personal one.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Scrote, yeah, promotions are often pay cuts due to the loss of overtime pay, and working hours often increase. A Japanese mate of mine keeps deliberately messing up TOEIC tests to avoid the 750 score that would lead to promotion! Mind you, a lot of companies don't pay overtime, and a lot of workers will stare blankly at their compuer screen until nearly midnight (unpaid) without achieving anything.

I have no respect for any man who does this okozukai crap. Japanese men are often wimps who allow their (usually quite unpleasant) wives to dominate them financially, even if the woman will not work, and has no income of her own. I know men here who try to survive off 30,000-yen a month or less, but tell me about wifey's shopping, hula dancing, eikaiwa and mama-ranchi in great detail. They are deeply unhappy about it, but are too afraid of their wives to tell them where to go. It's incomprehensibe to me.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I have recently come to learn that certain tax laws in Japan make it illegal to 'give' your paypacket to your wife. Well, not illegal, but she would have to pay tax on that 'gift'. So that means that either they are all tax evaders, OR the money isnt actually given to the wife - it goes into the husbands bank account, just that the wife has the bank card and doesnt let the husband access it.

Its a question of semantics, but it means that the husband isnt completely poor. They could easily just go to the bank any time they want and get money out; its under his name afterall.

Difference is, many DONT WANT TO. My colleagues all agreed; they dont want to think about money, finances, budgets or whatever, its a woman's job apparently. So while they all complain about small okozukai, its their own fault really.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@Wakarimasen @Reckless Yep I was drinking with my friends and family after work not with my boss.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Good point YABITS-san, I do agree that differing opinions are very constructive in the work environment. Maybe my previous post was, too, reflecting my personal day by day as opposed to a broader view of the article.

Yes-men or women as you put do not make good friends nor coworkers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Basically this article says you schmooze, you win. Be friends of the people who promote you and you get promoted. Not unlike many countries in the world, I suspect. It's often called "networking."

Or arse licking

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I don't drink, so I suppose I'm sunk before I start.

Me too mate. Perhaps we should set up a non drinkers session.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A clarification for some of you:

The salary "hand over" is figurative, not physical. A company employee is paid into a bank account and the wife is attached to this bank account and controls it, via her position in the family. Eg. "Don't take money out of the account, I will withdraw your petty cash and give it to you, month by month".

It is not transferred to her account.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ramzel, it actually may be transfered to her account. Japan, still,m as far as I know, doesn't "do" joint accounts. I know many men who don't have bank cards or passports for THEIR accounts, their wives hold onto them. Thanks but no thanks. My husband is a big boy who can look after himself and his money. He married a big girl who has a job and looks after her money. Both are adults and manage to pay for the house, the bills and not demand that one do or not do something based on who controls the money. I have no idea why some men here allow themselves to be given such a pathetic sum of money while wifey enjoys the freedom of yes, cafes, coffee and hula dancing. Why are any of these men buying lunch with a SAHW?? Isn't her job to make bentos for the family?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

If this article is completely true, than its a good indication of how far society really has fallen into a sespool. Any responsible man that lets his wife control all his cash and run the show is a whimp!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Some people just drink oolong tea, saying they have a medical problem, but they do socialize, and get promoted, so while drinking booze until you can't walk will be viewed favorably, it isn't absolutely necessary.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So lets get this straight: drinking equals social nice person? (didnt look like that in the night train in Tokyo...)Why booze?Why not bowling?Why not weekend gathering with other employers families and the firm? Which of these do you think makes a person to perform best?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

whoever mentioned that is was networking - NOT - it is sucking up plain and simple. i don`t think networking happens every night and golf on weekends plus ending up with less money, less time with their familes and lots of hangovers. my j-husband goes to parties just a few times a year, thank goodness.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tmarie - they could transfer the money, but the tax laws say that you can only transfer 1.1mil yen per year before the recipient has to start paying tax on that 'gift'

I agree with the other posters though; if you dont even have a bank card on your OWN account, then you have no right to complain about your wife taking your money and enjoying herself

And as for the drinking role in Japan, it is sad but true... Once the alcohol starts flowing, the inhibitions drop and people start saying things they wouldnt dream of saying in the office. There are a couple in my office who dont drink, but still come to these events. And they take advantage of the boss getting drunk to let them speak their minds as well. It is a bit unfair that the bill (when not covered by the boss) gets split evenly among the drinkers and non-drinkers,,, but they usually make up for it by ordering desserts and other things while everyone else is drinking

0 ( +0 / -0 )

With so many people who hate their boss so bad they would never go out for a drink... I have one advise for you. If your work environment is so bad, change jobs!

I go out with coworkers, clients and friends. It is a pleasure to be around them specially after work, when there is no timer ticking! I still go out with my family and non work related friends.

I draw the line at WHEN/WHERE I want to go out. Usually avoid going out when there are too many people attending and or it is strictly business!

If you don't like the people you spend most of you awaken hours with, so much you could not brave one afternoon bbq, then the problem just might be you and your choice of work. If you are going to spend 8 hrs a day with people you don't like most likely the feeling is reciprocal. Life is too short to be working in such bad environment!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

the tax laws say that you can only transfer 1.1mil yen per year before the recipient has to start paying tax on that 'gift'

I think there are clauses in those laws that allow for transfers of cash between persons sharing a household budget. I transfer money between my account and my husband's account regularly, way more than 1.1 million a year, and have never had any problems.

For example, if all the household bills are paid out of one account, say the husband's, and the wife transfers money from her own account into that account to help cover the bills, that money is not counted as a 'gift' and is not liable for tax.

If spouses can't afford to buy lunch and are complaining about their other half spending all their money on luxuries, then the couple need to sit down and sort things out. It takes a real man to realise that he is working for his family, not for himself. He's not a wimp., far from it. The kind of man who makes a family yet still thinks his income is all his own is a small-minded turn-off. Manly? Nah.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I do work, but I don't "give" my salary to my wife. She has her account and I have mine. It doesn't make sense to me if I work for the money while she doesn't and takes a weekend with her friends. She has her account since childhood and uses that. Now, if we're both working, then she can do what she wants with it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thank god a lot of my senpais have the monthly allowance thing and skip out on nomikais (if the company isn't paying). This makes it easier for me to skip them as well. I'd rather have a good home-cooked meal than crappy drinks and little dishes of food in a room full of smoke.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It is not just Japan - other studies have shown that those who go for drinks after work with their colleagues are more likely to get on and do well. However, in Japan there is a greater sense of obligation to attend these.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'm the boss at my company and I like to drink, but if employees don't want to drink beer with me we eat instead, and they can have oolong tea. No big deal.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

So< I'm not the only one on planet Earth who doesn't drink it seems....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"I don't drink so I suppose I'm sunk before I start"

Nonsense! You can drink non-alcoholic beer or chuhais or even just oolong-cha or water, as long as you're with the boss. A bigger problem is the cigarette smoke at most of these nomi-nication gatherings.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

From the article I can tell Japanese guys need to grow some balls.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In affect, what I'm hearing is that Japan needs better labor laws... I'm not a big fan of Unions but sounds like Japan needs them right now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And this comment is coming from a consultant!?

Networking should be made possible during working hours with proper coffee corner, attracting cafeteria or canteen. Then companies should organize team building events and pay for these zillions mandatory farewell/welcome parties.

Extra work networking should not be the norm.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The boss who expects his staff to drink with him as part of what is expected to "get ahead" is an anachronism dating back different times that were lost some 20 years ago.

The boss needs to change and consider that it should not be routinely expected and should be subsidized more by the guys making the bigger bucks in the group, namely himself.

What being able to drink has to do with being a good staffer also is questionable. Someone else mentioned that this boils down to being a good schmoozer or a lousy one. I think this is true but the boss shouldn't expect to be able to compensate for his own social inadequacies by making everyone else drink to see him in a better light.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

. I have no idea why some men here allow themselves to be given such a pathetic sum of money while wifey enjoys the freedom of yes, cafes, coffee and hula dancing. Why are any of these men buying lunch with a SAHW?? Isn't her job to make bentos for the family?

Simple answer I think is the children. Upset her and he could lose them. I know a few men who put up with some pretty mindblowing stuff just in order to keep their family together. I also think some men are raised here by their mothers to believe they CANT look after themselves without wife/Mum - Mife? Or Wum?!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The real purpose of after work drinking is as a safe environment for honne: no-holds-barred frank and honest discourse which is taboo in the tatemae office environment.

Far from arse-licking, it's a forum for challenging the status-quo or the boss, and for exchanging political gossip and insights that wouldn't be aired in the workplace. The alcohol is a get-out-of-jail-free card for any and all verbal indiscretions.

If you make a habit of purposefully avoiding nomikais, the perception will not only be that you aren't a team player, but that you don't care about what's actually going on beneath the 'tatemae' surface. So, yes, less likely to be promoted, or indeed, understood.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have no idea why some men here allow themselves to be given such a pathetic sum of money while wifey enjoys the freedom of yes, cafes, coffee and hula dancing. Why are any of these men buying lunch with a SAHW??

I have no idea why some posters assume that so many wives are sahm. Between half and three quarters of all married women (half in their 20s, three quarters in their 40s) between the ages of 25 and 60 work and presumably don't have time for either hula dancing or making packed lunches.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Wouldn't the workforce be much more efficient and productive if they were encouraged to go home (or wherever they feel like) and relax, rest up and get a good night's sleep and be fresh for the job in the morning? A boost to the economy and to the lives of the guys who have to endure this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo, four hours a day at "baito" isn't really an all day job and leaves plenty of time for hula.

Chiba, this is just it. I wish these guys who play their trump cards. You want to take away the kids? Fine. Have fun trying to support them. At the end of the day, the men here DO have the upper hand but don't seem to understand that.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

four hours a day at "baito" isn't really an all day job

When you've got kids coming home from kindy/elementary school soon after lunchtime, it is.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

if you want to work in japan, being a kiss-ass is a must !

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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