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60% of young, 'irregular workers' in Japan wish for a do-over

12 Comments
By Preston Phro

“I hate this job.” Not exactly uncommon words, are they? While you may not necessarily love the work you do, it’s always nice to at least not hate your job, right? Unfortunately, it seems that all too many of us are stuck in life-draining professions, wishing we could start all over. And, it turns out, over half of young “irregular” Japanese workers can sympathize.

A recent online survey of non-"seishain" employees between 25 and 40 years of age has revealed that 61.6% of the respondents wished they could redo their job search or return to school. As the song goes, “Regrets, I’ve had a few.”

In the simplest sense, “seisha-in” refers to people with “regular employment.” However, the term can be misleading, since you might assume that anyone working full-time at a company would be considered a “seisha-in.” In reality, it’s a bit more limited in scope, referring to a specific type of employment: full-time until retirement. This is, of course, in contrast to a contract or dispatch employee, whose employment is over a specific amount of time and who will need to renew the contract regularly. As you might imagine, being a "seisha-in" has a number of economic benefits, and it was, in the past, the goal of almost every college student to become a "seisha-in" at a prestigious company.

However, times are changing, and "seisha-in" positions have become scarcer, with an ever-increasing number of people taking contract or dispatch jobs which can last anywhere from three months to several years. This unsteady work can often make it much more difficult for people to transition into more permanent jobs. However, it is worth noting that one cannot work at the same company for more than three years straight without being made a "seisha-in" employee, according to Japanese law.

The Nippon Omni-Management Association surveyed 700 of these non-"seisha-in" workers, who are grouped under the umbrella term “irregular workers.” The survey showed that 61.6% of the respondents wished they could start over, with 21.7% having no strong opinion either way, and a scant 17.3% happy with no regrets. At the same time, 54.6% of respondents said that they wished they were "seisha-in," with only 15.7% happy as irregular employees.

While it’s not surprising that people have some regrets, it’s a bit alarming to see well over half of the participants wishing they could redo their job search or go back to school. What all of this means is up to interpretation, though it does suggest that while becoming a "seisha-in" employee is still the big dream in Japan, not many are seeing it come true.

Source: Yahoo! News Japan

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12 Comments
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Time to include the underemployed in the ranks of NEETs!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

just the beginning...those persons ar not going to get into better positions thanks to arubaito

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm always struck by how often Japanese people tell me that there education system is the best. But, if you look at a lot of the universities and colleges in this country, you'll see that they are basically babysitting these kids until they, "graduate"! These students aren't learning, so of course when they graduate, none of the famous companies that still offer full time employment will hire them. Perhaps if they had studied harder, attended a better school, they might not feel such regret.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What kind of national healthcare do these workers receive? I mean, how does it differ in price and/or coverage when compared to employees in "seishain" positions?

I wonder what will happen when these people reach retirement age? I don't think they're making enough to actually save for retirement, are they? Will the Japanese pension system be able to provide them shelter and sustenance? Will they have healthcare coverage in retirement?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm always struck by how often Japanese people tell me that there (sic) education system is the best.

Really?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

These McJobs are totally unsustainable, and only exist thanks to residual Bubble Era wealth - the freeters' hand to mouth existence is (often heavily) subsidized by their parents or grandparents.

Mr Koizumi's liberalization should have addressed the real rigidities in the labor market, to allow people to more easily change jobs, or to graduate from freelance to salaried employee existences 'mid-career', something that remains nigh impossible, though often dangled like a carrot.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm always struck by how often Japanese people tell me that there education system is the best.

Japanese people will tell you a lot of Japanese things are the best, don't worry it isn't a critical opinion based on any knowledge of the wider world, it is an assumption that is ironically based on an insular and xenophobic education system.

As regards the article it seems that job apartheid is here and it isn't going anywhere.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The problem with the Japanese is that their station in depends a lot on which company they work for. Try to get a credit card or a mortgage if you work for a small conpany, or are not "seisha- in". Regardless of your income, or your regularity in paying your bills, you will have a harder time.

As a self-employed person in Japan, I deal with this issue from time to time. I applied for a gold visa card at a Japanese bank, and as I did not work for a major company, they were reluctant to approve me. I showed them that American banks had given me an Amex Platinum card, a Citi Chairman's card, and that I had a Harvard University World card. These cards are "unlimited". When they realiized that I had more "credit" than the president of the branch, they relented.

Too many Japanese think that the only respectable option they have is to work for a big name company. Working for themselves is an option many are too afraid to consider. Even I have had regrets about the choices I have made, but rather than resign myself to a lifetime of drudgery, I simply started doing something else which I liked better.

The culture in Japan needs to start judging people on their merit and performance, and not the name of the company which is printed on their business card. This might inspire people to be more meritorious, and to perform better,

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Unstable employment is also of conceren in the UK with more and workers forced to accept "zero hour contracts" without the possibility of a permanent job.

Sad to hear about "irregular workers" in Japan, but this sort of thing seems widespread.

Some people say it's because of the economy, but others consider it exploitation by companies not employing workers full time therefore not having to give any kind of benefits such as paid holiday, insurance, bonuses, redundancy pay, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Talk about do-overs, I'm feverishly at work on building a time machine so I can go back to the good ol' 80s and zero consumption tax...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Like I said on a different thread, our rights have been eroded because we have become complacent about them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

However, it is worth noting that one cannot work at the same company for more than three years straight without being made a “seisha-in” employee, according to Japanese law.

Yet another law that all Eikaiwa schools break. I have certainly been the victim of this one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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