lifestyle

New hires shock Internet with their sameness

83 Comments
By Scott Wilson, RocketNews24

It’s June, and if you’re a recent Japanese college graduate, chances are you’ve completed training and started your life as an employee of the company or organization where you’ll ideally spend the next several decades working.

But unlike many other countries in the world, Japanese companies tend to value their new hires being a “blank slate” rather than innovative and fresh talent. This is slowly changing, but still, the idea of a newly-hired employee being someone who the company can mold into whatever they need is very desirable.

Unfortunately, this “blank slate” requirement can sometimes go too far, as evidenced by this photo of a group of new hires at one Japanese organization.

This image is from a clip that aired on Japanese news, and the bit in the upper-right says: “Surprise ‘Company-Entry Ceremony’ for New Hires.” So while it seems like the news ignored the fact that there’s a clone army of businesswomen, it’s pretty much the first thing we, and the rest of the internet, saw.

Here’s what Japanese netizens had to say:

“They’re drones! Where is their queen?!” “Even their hair is all the same….” “The lack of individuality is painful.” “Are they newly hired Matrix agents?” “How do you even interview and pick people from a group like this?” “Unfortunately this is a normal, accepted sight in Japan.”

While that commenter is certainly right for the majority of top Japanese companies, we do have to say that Japan is slowly – albeit very slowly – getting better. With new laws changing hiring practices, and young professionals rebelling against some of the more ridiculous rules, perhaps Japanese companies may start hiring new employees based on how they’re already molded, not how they can be molded.

_Source: Twitter/@yu9n via TOYCHAN

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Genka Bar, where your drinks never cost more than what they’re worth! -- The “doya-gao” phenomenon and where you’re most likely to see it -- There’s something not quite right about these mannequins…

© Japan Today

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83 Comments
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Yuck. The worst of japanese culture. "The nail that sticks out gets hammered in". Diversity and personality are non-exhistent in Japan.

21 ( +26 / -5 )

This picture is sad. No spark, no color, no anything.

22 ( +27 / -5 )

Lots of smiling people in this photo so I suspect it's not during the entry ceremony but after it. I also suspect it is for a company where smiling women are important - airline flight attendants, for example. But I might just have a suspicious mind. Wish Elvis were still around.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

perhaps Japanese companies may start hiring new employees based on how they’re already molded, not how they can be molded.

But thanks to the education system these are basically the same. By now, with over 40 years accumulated experience of indoctrination the education system is perfected. Few will be capable of a thoughtcrime, and this increases the higher up the education tree they went and the more desirable they are from a company point of view.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Meh. It's just a group of people of homogenous race adhering to the standards set by their particular company.

I'm not going to say that that sort of thing is not to some degree representative of Japan but I think that there is actually a broad range of personality and possible interpretations conveyed by their facial expressions and features: excited, nervous, cute, focused, dull, mischievous, sombre, gentle, joyful, docile, bored, bemused, genuine, aloof and more.

I suspect that part of the internet reaction (and can we just quickly address the silliness of "people on the internet said this so it must be newsworthy" reporting) is that the people seeing the image simply aren't accustomed to distinguishing among facial features of a homogenous group. In that case the human often focuses on obvious similarities such as hair colour and style, clothing etcetera to the exclusion of less immediately recognizable information. It's human nature.

-6 ( +11 / -18 )

Why would this particular pic " shock " internet due to the new employees sameness.? It's been like this year after year,,,like forever.

19 ( +18 / -0 )

I think you are right, borscht. It looks like they are recruits for some budget airline and are all inside one of its planes.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The one in black is kind of cute.

32 ( +32 / -0 )

This is just Japan: one big conformity factory, from the very youngest right through to the very oldest. The social systems in place to ensure this happens are deeply entrenched and super efficient at all levels of the social stratum. It's ruthless and relentless, and it's just the reality of life.

But what I always love is the individuality and expression that exists in Japan despite of this. I love the colour and character of the people I know here who shine regardless. That's the irrepressible spirit of humanity to me.

And the other thing that strikes me about young, western reactions to things like this is that they have grown up being taught that they are all 'amazing' unique individuals who can do anything they want and all need to let their inner 'amazeball' spirit shine for all to see. But isn't that just deception on an equally grand scale? Almost all of them will end up grinding out life just like the generations before them, but with a slightly greater sense of dissatisfaction because in the end they discovered that they aren't, in fact, all that amazing, and that they are in fact, much like everyone else?

Whether you all get covered in tatts and hipster gear, or all get covered in a black suit with the same hairdo.....there isn't that much of a difference between you.

8 ( +14 / -7 )

Why would this particular pic " shock " internet due to the new employees sameness.? It's been like this year after year,,,like forever.

I think its shocking because there still is no change. The new employees are thought of as clean slates rather than fresh, new innovative talent.

Only Japan thinks this way.

1 ( +4 / -4 )

Hahaha this article is very interesting,

Exactly I agree their sameness however unfortunately it's usual in Japan.

But I think sometimes their personality is very important if you want to join e.g. entertainment company.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It all starts with the education system. Stop making kids wear the same cloth, sing the same school song, think the same way, and then you can hope to have diversity and originality later on. Until then...

6 ( +8 / -2 )

How is this sameness different to the sameness we see in all armies around the world? How about the many countries were kids wear the same silly uniform from day 1?

When I see a group of 17yo goofy looking anglo teens wearing long socks, shorts, tie and a hat I also have a chuckle and feel 'they all look the same'.

Plus if the author of this article thinks most foreign companies value their new employees 'creativity' I think he is having a laugh. Reality is there are some jobs where you want your employees to do as they are told and not ask too many questions. It's sad but its true.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Not important. Everyone can have their own interpretation of a picture. I think this article is just a bit of exaggeration.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

"“They’re drones! Where is their queen?!” “Even their hair is all the same….” “The lack of individuality is painful.” “Are they newly hired Matrix agents?” “How do you even interview and pick people from a group like this?” “Unfortunately this is a normal, accepted sight in Japan.”

Wait! What. Japanese people criticized this. As if they played no part in Japan-inc. I am not bashing, Japanese culture. It is what it is. I just find this a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I 100% promise you the people who said this all reverse their cars into parking spaces... because that's the way Japanese people park. How is that any different than a conservative haircut to try and get a job? I am not trying to say this is good or bad, but I hope those reading this and those who typed those messages realize that individuality is great and all, but it comes at a cost. Some societies feel that cost is worth it (the USA) some do not (Japan). Accept it or move.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In many so-called non-conformist societies, one notices many many subtle pressures to conform. " What, you don't have a date for Saturday? What, you haven't tried drugs? " etc etc.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Moonraker

But thanks to the education system these are basically the same. By now, with over 40 years accumulated experience of indoctrination the education system is perfected. Few will be capable of a thoughtcrime, and this increases the higher up the education tree they went and the more desirable they are from a company point of view.

You forgot to add the lack of bragging. As the typical Satoshi/Satomi what they are good at, and what is the predominate reply?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For a forty-something lazy sod like myself on decent wages with no ambition left, I rather like just nodding and doing what's expected of me at work. I was slightly more enthusiastic and bright-eyed in my twenties but it didn't last long. Many of these kids will probably go the same way.

I save my energy and imagination for activities outside of work. I know many Japanese people who do the same.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

@jimizo comment of the day mate

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I am guessing that this is the "nyushashiki" company entrance ceremony (入社式) for JAL. Here is another photo: http://goo.gl/EtiAEZ

Here are random photos of company entrance ceremonies in Japan: http://goo.gl/EtiAEZ

Company entrance ceremonies, "nyugakushiki" school entrance ceremonies (入学式) and all other sorts of ceremonies in Japan have always been this way.

The powers that be go out of their way to ensure that everyone looks as much alike as possible, even going as far as to run appearance checks (hair style, hair color, fingernail length, skirt length, etc.) beforehand. These organizations will even get angry complaints if the group of newbies doesn't look sufficiently uniform. Many years ago, on several occasions I had to play a supporting role as appearance check Nazi. Not fun.

So given the ubiquity and widespread acceptance of this in Japan, I would suspect that "Japanese netizen" comments in this article accounted for very few of the overall comments, possibly by Japanese people who grew up abroad and have not been fully indoctrinated into the Japanese way of life.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

For a forty-something lazy sod like myself on decent wages with no ambition left

Jim, let me know where you work - I'll have my CV there by this afternoon..

We have a full uniform at my place of work. Because I'm a middle-aged gaikokojin I cant be bothered with their trousers and wear my own suit trousers. I love to walk past the HR recruitment lady who cant make eye contact with me anymore and instead glares at my rebelious suit trousers. I never thought suit trousers could be so daring.

Every country has its uniformity and company brainwashing of young recruits. But what shocks me in Japan is the very same black recruit suit that every single interviewee wears.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I remember traveling during rush hour one day, and thinking it was the most depressing sight ever seeing everyone dressed the same. I can understand the need to look professional, but what's the point of everyone wearing the same work uniform?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Picture caption should read: Why Japan is Slowly Dying in the International Community

3 ( +6 / -3 )

That is a very good point from ryuu. The Japanese mentality of uniformity and expectancy that new hires look and dress the same, damages the ability to adapt and be flexible when dealing with foreign customers or competing with overseas competition.

Japanese company job interviews are somewhat of a joke as well. You are never tested or challenged to provide a better individual answer. Once your resume fits then you just go through the long laborious process of multiple 'interviews' but you basically have the job at the start.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"For a forty-something lazy sod like myself on decent wages with no ambition left"

"Jim, let me know where you work - I'll have my CV there by this afternoon.."

Don't misunderstand my use of 'decent'. I'm not talking champagne and oysters for breakfast here :(

4 ( +4 / -0 )

And they call Japan a modern country! Very little has changed since the 50s...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Don't misunderstand my use of 'decent'. I'm not talking champagne and oysters for breakfast here :(

I was concentrating on the lazy sod with no ambition job description. I have excellent experience.

7 ( +6 / -0 )

I save my energy and imagination for activities outside of work.

These poor saps won't have much time for activities outside of work. They will arrive early, stay late, and never get more than 5 consecutive days for vacation. Besides the long hours and few days off, many of them get to look forward to two 2 hours on the train every day as well.

But the picture is of female employees, most of whom will be married before 30, at which time they will quit working, and live off their husband's salary. If the picture were of young men, who have 40 years of long hours, mediocre pay, little time off, and having to support a family in the suburbs whom they seldom have time to spend with, it would be more indicative of the norm here.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"Don't misunderstand my use of 'decent'. I'm not talking champagne and oysters for breakfast here :("

"I was concentrating on the lazy sod with no ambition job description. I have excellent experience."

If you can bolt out of the door like a scalded cat before 6:00 you could be the very man.

I'm really shocked at the idea that so many people take work so seriously. Also, I only have experience of working at one Japanese company where there is a relaxed dress code. I also find that many of the well-dressed/groomed youngsters become as relaxed and slovenly dressed as the rest of us within a few months or the natural hair colours start changing. I really don't see the big deal in this very temporary thing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Picture caption should read: Why Japan is Slowly Dying in the International Community

Agree. Remember that "Cool Japan" gimmick they tried to sell? When it comes to recent innovation, Japan isn't cutting the mustard.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I took a look at that pic and one song automatically started playing in my head-

**All in all its just another brick in the wall....

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If you can bolt out of the door like a scalded cat before 6:00 you could be the very man.

I remember working for a Brit firm in Tokyo for a decade I would sometimes have to travel to London for courses. I had forgotten the good old British mentality and at 17:30 you could be seriously injured and trampled to death in the rush for the exit...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I'm really shocked at the idea that so many people take work so seriously.

It depends on the work. If you are really passionate about what you are doing, it's easy to take it seriously, even if your company is sub-par. If the work you are doing is just for ensuring you have a roof over your head and food in your fridge however, then there is no need nor reason to take it too seriously.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

TigersTokyoDome: "I had forgotten the good old British mentality and at 17:30 you could be seriously injured and trampled to death in the rush for the exit..."

Instead of actual danger being crushed to death on the 7:00 a.m. drone train into the city, pressed against all the oyaji breathing out last nights mandatory enkai sake, I suppose.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

TigersTokyoDome: "I had forgotten the good old British mentality and at 17:30 you could be seriously injured and trampled to death in the rush for the exit..."

This is why, in general, though by no means absolute, I don't like working with British people. I've found that the work ethic in many British people leaves something to be desired.

-18 ( +1 / -19 )

@Jimizo "For a forty-something lazy sod like myself on decent wages with no ambition left, I rather like just nodding and doing what's expected of me at work."

OMG, I thought I was the only one!!! Great to meet you sir.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"The nail that sticks out gets hammered in".

I have never heard a Japanese person say this...in fact the only people who say this are foreigners living in Japan. I think people say it to give the impression that they have some kind of innate understanding of Japan. Yet people who say this statement seem to forget that most cultures have some kind of variation on this theme. Australia has the "tall poppy syndrome" to name but one.

The photo is of a group of women who have just started working for a company in the service industry. They are all wearing similar clothing. Oh my God! The world is going to end. I did not realize that there was a correlation between clothes worn at a job and level of creative output. All those chefs all over the world who practically wear the same kind of clothing must be bereft of ideas.

0 ( +5 / -6 )

beowulf: I don't disagree with your overall point (and I really agree foreigners seem more interested in Japanese group dynamics than any actual Japanese person I've spoken to), but the is pretty representative of how Japan's job market looks from the outside. The same can be seen practically anywhere at this time of year. The pic is just 'newsworthy' because so many similar looking are packed into one frame.

Also, the thing with Japan in this context is that the black 'recruit suit' is not really a uniform in the sense that everyone has to wear it, but practically everyone does wear it. And, as can be seen in the above pic, most (women especially) will even do their hair in a certain way. I think it does say something about the importance (and acceptance) of conformity in Japan. Wearing that specific suit (with that specific hairstyle) really has nothing to do with the jobs at hand, which is why practically no-one continues to wear them past the first few months/year.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

New hires are drones, they all get paid the tiniest amounts and forced to work long hours

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thank you mucho JT for writing an article about this! Just 7 years ago I had an interview (my current position) I was the only gaijin who was wearing colored business attire and drones all lined up wearing same suit, I really thought they knew each other and talked about what to wear.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I have never heard a Japanese person say this...

I hear it quite often, without directly soliciting it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is why, in general, though by no means absolute, I don't like working with British people. I've found that the work ethic in many British people leaves something to be desired.

Having worked in Japan for 13 years and for 13 years in my home country, I will tell you that the Brits have no issues with working hard. And they work hard at the right times of the day i.e from 9am until 5.30pm. None of this staring at your computer until 8 or 9pm that I see at my current office. Yep, the Brits in general will walk out of that door dead on 5.30, but we don't die from overwork or commit suicide and we get to see our families and help raise our kids.

13 ( +12 / -0 )

Looks great. I love it and believe it is the best way forward for Japan. In a few short years most of these women will not be working any ways. I also hate working with British people, all catch-phrase no action.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Looks great. I love it and believe it is the best way forward for Japan. In a few short years most of these women will not be working any ways. I also hate working with British people, all catch-phrase no action.

Ah,ha,ha! This is just designed to wind people up right? So the best way forward for Japan doesnt matter because the women have to get married and stay at home? Definitely a joke. All catch-phrase no action - I like it. Although I'm more interested in getting out of here at 17:30 so I dont have time to chat.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I remember working for a Brit firm in Tokyo for a decade I would sometimes have to travel to London for courses. I had forgotten the good old British mentality and at 17:30 you could be seriously injured and trampled to death in the rush for the exit... yes Brits work to live, not live to work. This so called legendary hard work ethic of the Japanese certainly hasn't done squat for their economy the last 25+yrs

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"I also hate working with British people, all catch-phrase no action."

Ah, the battling middles. No doubt another who 'got ahead' by using 'smarts'.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ok, for some light entertainment here are some other national working stereotypes to match the Japanese:- Japanese - great work ethic but unfortunately have forgotten the page on their contract stating their working hours. Have also forgotten where they live. And their families. Brits - actually remember to work during actual contractual hours but never ask them to actually do some work. Affairs are obligatory at office Xmas parties. Americans - great modern management methods and constantly in touch by e-mail. Unfortunately this results in having no friends. Whatsoever. Or marriage partners. Or pets. Aussies - a greater work ethic than the Japanese. And better results. But forget the clause in their contracts that sacks them when they use foul and abusive language at their boss. Either that or they get sacked as they nearly always get arrested by the cops whenever they go out for a quiet drink.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

In defense of the "recruit suits" and company uniforms, they at least make their wearers look reasonably attractive, and -- this is the social aspect that often goes unmentioned -- they eliminate the uncomfortable gap between the sons and daughters of the rich, with their expensive fashion, and the less well-off young people who have to buy generic no-brand clothing to work in.

It's as true in high schools as it is in corporate recruiting. I'd like to see a little more variety permissible in hairstyles and particularly hair color (where people with genuinely-brown hair have to dye it black just so that it looks like they're not dyeing it), but clothing conformity has its good side.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Got some of these drones buzzing around my office screwing up things right now.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Having worked in Japan for 13 years and for 13 years in my home country, I will tell you that the Brits have no issues with working hard.

I guess we have different experiences. And while my comment was born of the comment about the door stampede at 5:30pm, that is only one of the issues I've had working with British folk. I've found a lot of them don't have a great work ethic overall. But again, my personal experiences. And that all said, I've also worked with some amazing Brits who I respect immensely. So it's not absolute. But as a generalization, I haven't had good luck I guess.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Blank slate indeed! Tell me again why they bother to go to college or university. They don't learn anything and even if they do,mthere major usually has nothing to do with the feild of work they are indoctrinated into.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What is so shocking here? It's been like this since like forever, lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tell me again why they bother to go to college or university. They don't learn anything and even if they do,mthere major usually has nothing to do with the feild of work they are indoctrinated into.

Because the degree and the quality of university is what gets them the job.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It seems to me that many people are using a simple cultural difference to cloak their Japan-bashing, their frustration, and their stress from living in Japan. People who work in the same field wear the same uniform. In Japan they have a stronger sense of team work and a higher level of customer service. Those in the west are easily indoctrinated as well by the "system"; so much so they actually think they have free will. This system is the Japanese way. Nothing to laught at or mock.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

...and we are hoping the government will change in the next election! Drone mentality in, drone mentality out.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yuck. The worst of japanese culture. "The nail that sticks out gets hammered in". Diversity and personality are non-exhistent in Japan.

Stereotyping.

But thanks to the education system these are basically the same. …. Few will be capable of a thoughtcrime, and this increases the higher up the education tree they went and the more desirable they are from a company point of view.

More stereotyping. People who want to work for big bureaucratic organizations are inherently conformist in any country. Only about 30% of the entire Japanese workforce is in large, bureaucratic organizations.

Whether you all get covered in tatts and hipster gear, or all get covered in a black suit with the same hairdo.....there isn't that much of a difference between you.

Indeed, and when you see pictures of, for example, US federal government employees, you don't see people “covered in tatts and hipster gear.”

It all starts with the education system. Stop making kids wear the same cloth, sing the same school song, think the same way, and then you can hope to have diversity and originality later on. Until then…

If by “same cloth,” you mean uniforms, you don't know what you are talking about. School uniforms are actually much more common in Commonwealth countries than they are in Japan. Some countries such as Thailand have them through university.

In many so-called non-conformist societies, one notices many many subtle pressures to conform. " What, you don't have a date for Saturday? What, you haven't tried drugs? " etc etc.

Indeed and add “You don't believe in God?” to the list.

The Japanese mentality of uniformity and expectancy that new hires look and dress the same, damages the ability to adapt and be flexible when dealing with foreign customers or competing with overseas competition.

Japanese society was far more conformist in the 70s and 80s when it was kicking the American economic arse.

But the picture is of female employees, most of whom will be married before 30, at which time they will quit working, and live off their husband's salary. If the picture were of young men, who have 40 years of long hours, mediocre pay, little time off, and having to support a family in the suburbs whom they seldom have time to spend with, it would be more indicative of the norm here.

Don't know where you are getting your misinformation. Recent figures put the first age at marriage for women at 29.0 and 30.7 for men, roughly the same as in the UK. Given that the average age of first marriage for women is 29.0 it is unlikely that “most of them will be married before 30.” Further, while 60% of women with small children quit working, a large fraction of the women later return to the work force. The Japanese female labor force participation rate is now slightly higher than that of the US.

Not every Japanese male works for a large company and works long hours. Many people are self-employed and have considerable flexibility in their hours. Moreover, self-employed people often live in or near to their businesses and have near zero commuting times.

Instead of actual danger being crushed to death on the 7:00 a.m. drone train into the city, pressed against all the oyaji breathing out last nights mandatory enkai sake, I suppose.

I take it you have never lived in Britain, never taken a commuter train into London, and never seen how much and how often many Brits drink.

I have never heard a Japanese person say this...in fact the only people who say this are foreigners living in Japan. I think people say it to give the impression that they have some kind of innate understanding of Japan.

Same here. I've lived in Japan for roughly 25 years beginning in 1971. I've never heard Japanese use the nail expression. What I have heard is that someone is 世間しらず – someone does not know what is acceptable behavior in his/her peer group.

This so called legendary hard work ethic of the Japanese certainly hasn't done squat for their economy the last 25+yrs

In other words, the economy would have been better had everyone goofed off?

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

just like the same old same old droids as with johnny's talent agency

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This system is the Japanese way. Nothing to laught at or mock. and why is it that this same system has done little to further Japans economy or increase Japanese workers income and happiness, all of which have taken a nose dive the last 25+yrs. Seems pointless to continue a system that's clearly broken, but then again tradition has a habit of destroying common sense and progress.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I'm seeing a lot of pressure in the comments to react in a specific way to the photo. The nail that sticks out gets voted down. ;)

That said, it's nice to see people who appear to be having fun at the beginning of their work life. I hope they thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony. I'm sure they don't realize it, but that's the last big event society will have in their honor (if they get married, they have to foot the bill for the party). Not that adult life is bad at all, once you get used to it -- but the next few years of adjustment will likely be difficult.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I swear at first I thought this was a factory line of newly automatons.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The kohai/sempai system is simply reinforced throughout the university years and the culture of drinking to make it seem less of a chore is introduced as they go through the motions of their "education" which they will more than likely never need in their career. Any form of curiosity is considered a burden and suspicious. It is quite funny because at the other end of the spectrum you see many elderly, retired men and women who have gone through their careers and feel understandably unsatisfied who are enrolling for university courses because they realize they missed out on an education because of their "career" which is really just a corporation chewing through your labor for its profit.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This so called legendary hard work ethic of the Japanese certainly hasn't done squat for their economy the last 25+yrs in other words, the economy would have been better had everyone goofed off? No would have been better if they taught creative thinking which leads to innovative ideas, products and services, this is what leads to a strong economy. The system they got in place now clearly doesnt do this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Did you all ever hear of entry level?! I know every job on the market in the US and UK all want you to have a PhD and years of experience to get an entry level position (sarcasm) but believe it or not yes all those new employees are straight out of university with no experience so they should be a blank slate! It's rubbish to think any different. Blank slate means that you are going to be molded or taught what they need to know to do their jobs!!! Any company you enter will require you to learn your job and last time I checked everyone starts on the bottom and works there way up through experience at any job so stop attacking Japan for being realistic. There system seems to work fine for Japan or else it would have changed by now.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Conformity exist everywhere be it not as obvious as here. I think there is a lot of talent in these ranks that will never be discovered though unfortunately.

In saying that, when I go back to NZ or travel to Australia I see mass conformity in the wearing of tribal tattoos or "sleeves" . Almost everyone under 40 seems to have them. That is mass conformity too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I just thought the comments they included in the article were hilarious.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is quite funny because at the other end of the spectrum you see many elderly, retired men and women who have gone through their careers and feel understandably unsatisfied who are enrolling for university courses because they realize they missed out on an education because of their "career" which is really just a corporation chewing through your labor for its profit.

Most of the people who are "elderly" today (anyone over 65 in Japanese usage), probably went into the workforce when they graduated from high school or middle school. They did not miss out an education because of what corporations did but because when they were in their teens, very few people went to university. Even high school was something of a luxury.

For example, take someone who is 70 years old now. When they finished middle school, less than 60% went on to high school and if they had gone on to high school, they would have had a 10% chance of going on to university.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The paper on Saturday (the Globe supplement with the Asahi) showed a list of 20 countries and the average salary in each in 1991 and 2016. The average salary in Japan declined over the period but increased in all the other countries. The average salary in South Korea is now higher than that in Japan.

My point is that all this conformity and working oneself to death does not benefit the individual or the nation. Japan is falling behind and becoming a poor country.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The Orwellion nightmare.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not a bang/fringe in sight!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Every time I see these clones at rush hour, I feel sorry for any business environment that actually wants people to look and think the same. If change is happening, it's certainly not evident around recruitment time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Look Sir! Droids!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Isn't it Americans that want "same service" from the people in the service industry?

Americans expect exactly the same question from McDonald's clerks. When they opened their first shop in Japan, their sameness shocked Japanese people. Now, Japanese do not get that much shock and take the sameness as "US culture". Actually, US companies make a lot of profit by prohibiting any deviation from an established manual.

The photo is that of JAL new employees. Americans are the major customer of JAL and they want the same service from any flight attendant.

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With apologies to Sir Alec Guinness:

These are the droids you're looking for

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Walk around a Japanese city and witness the complete lack of unity in the housing, the variety of clothes and fashions (American students are happy to wear their own uni logo insignia Ts, one pattern wear), the variety in the cars, and their customization, and then read the comments on this forum, and decide, who are the clones? And blind? Don't rock the boat?

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Housing is like the one area where Japanese people often express some individuality. Fashion and cars? Not in my view. For fashion, you can easily group people by their broad style even if the clothes obviously aren't exactly the same. Yes, there's more than one style, but Perhaps similar things can be said of many countries, but I've found it much easier to notice in Tokyo vs. my home city of London at least (which has the benefit of a more diverse populace I suppose).

For the cars.. sorry but where do you live/visit? In Tokyo and in all the parts of Japan I've visited, excluding taxis, 99% of cars on the road have been white, grey, black or silver. I guess there's variation in type/model but I was shocked when I noticed the severe lack of colour. It's only really sports cars and other high-end cars where a risky splash of red or deep blue might be seen.

I honestly don't think Japanese people are 'naturally' any less individual than other nationalities (peer pressure and 'cultural norms' exist everywhere), but when it comes to appearances, there is a higher level of conformity. I mean, can't even one of the 'recruit suit' wearers in this country put on a blue shirt?

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I mean, can't even one of the 'recruit suit' wearers in this country put on a blue shirt?

Their mother would have a fit!

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Curious - I've never had an answer to this question: when they take you into a company as a "blank slate", do you get to choose what you do - for example, if you have an interest in marketing, or design, or something creative, do they take that into account when placing you, or do they need someone in accounts so you get plunked in there and taught how to do the job?

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“They’re drones! Where is their queen?!” “Even their hair is all the same….” “The lack of individuality is painful.” “Are they newly hired Matrix agents?”

Typical western kind of comments, really...whoever made them. As if originality of thought and independence could be witnessed via such trivial details, as clothing and face expression. The ability to strictly conform, is much more easily understood, learned and demonstrated, by those who have free and open minds. So many people in the West struggle to look special, to wow the public by appearances. Appearance is nothing. Independence is a state of mind, not the place on your body, decorated and arranged to please, by approved suppliers.

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Don't know if it is true, but I read somewhere that many of the designers in Japan are Westerners. if true, that would lead me to think that creativity and originality are rarer in the East than in the West. There are slight genetic differences between Easterners and others; perhaps that has something to do with it.

On the other hand, I have read of designers here in the West (Vera Wang comes to mind) who came from the East. Perhaps just a change of scenery encourages one to think outside of the box.

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or do they need someone in accounts so you get plunked in there and taught how to do the job?

They need someone in accounts so you get plunked there and taught how to do the job.

Don't know if it is true, but I read somewhere that many of the designers in Japan are Westerners.

The accurate statement is that there are many Western designers in Japan. They pale in number to Japanese designers though. Just a tiny percentage.

There are slight genetic differences between Easterners and others; perhaps that has something to do with it.

Asian design is generally different than Western design, but it's cultural, not genetic. They have done studies and shown that the first born generations of Asians in the West will tend more towards the middle of the West and East, and that successive generations tend more towards the West.

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Japan just has a different employment system. Students don't need to intern or take gap years to gain experience because the company invests in training them from 0 and keeping them around long-term (until retirement was the expectation, these days that is changing). So rather than skills new recruits just need to show they are as normal and easy to communicate with as possible, and a good long-term fit for the company to get hired. Hence the recruit suits. Someone who throws a fit about wearing a suit is probably going to throw fits about other small things in the job as well and might not be seen as sufficiently teachable.

The education-employment "rail" for the well-to-do middle class in Japan is seen as the "straight and narrow path" to social approval and security 安定. For a lot of Japanese those things are just more appealing than what they could gain doing their own individual thing.

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“They’re drones! Where is their queen?!”

Drones are all male...

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99% of cars on the road have been white, grey, black or silver. lol a friend of mine pointed that out many years ago, saying "are Japanese color blind or something!?" when you ask a Japanese they'll say it about choosing a sensible color and not one that too outrageous and stands out red, yellow, blue is too outrageous. So image is important to many Japanese as long as it conforms with what's their normal. LOL

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