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One in four surveyed Japanese workers admits to wanting to kill boss; Osaka quake helps show why

32 Comments
By Katy Kelly, SoraNews24

While there are many, many perks to life in Japan, the culture around work is ever controversial. With employees considering deeply if they’re even allowed to take sick leave or duck out of work for a few minutes to buy a boxed lunch, it’s no wonder there’s a whole world of unvoiced resentment bubbling away beneath some workers’ civil facades.

This was thrown into sharp relief at 7:58 a.m. on Monday, June 18, when Osaka suffered one of the most intense earthquakes it’s experienced in decades. Trains and buses were thrown off schedule, stranding millions of harried commuters en-route, and for some it was simply impossible to get to work or school. There was also the sad fact that they would need to wait hours to return home and reassure their families in person.

It’s the kind of traumatic event you would expect bosses across the country to sympathize with. And yet, from Twitter poster @mgr_toki: “Once it was clear my boyfriend couldn’t get to work, he came home to email his supervisor about it and they promptly replied with 'Please walk to the office to receive your wages for the day.' It took him an hour of walking to reach his workplace, where at noon all the staff were told to evacuate the building and return home, which took another hour’s walk. There’s something seriously wrong with Japan!“

And from @charlotte_delta: “Typical scene at a “black company” post-quake:

Worker: Hello, who’s calling?

Boss: Thanks for your work today. I noticed you didn’t submit your report. Is everything okay?

Worker: T-There was an earthquake t-

Boss: The deadline is tomorrow, alright?

This is just how it is with big corporations.

In particular it’s how it was with the big corporation I worked at, Ni**hin."

@AyAri_cat tweets: “When the earthquake hit I got an email from my boss. It said: 'Is everyone safe? All staff, please respond to this email to ascertain your safety.' So far so good, right? The next line: 'Are you able to attend work today? Can you do business? If so, please let us know.' Japan is a country of wage slaves.”

This selection is just a sampling of a multitude of similar tweets to the same tune: while Japan does have a kind of leave designated for this kind of emergency (特別年休 tokubetsu nenkyuu, or special leave) some companies fail to make it clear that it can be taken, or obscure it with complicated bureaucratic procedures. The policy of caring about your employees only so far as they support the bottom line of the company is a long-standing problem, to the extent that the neologism “black company” is in frequent modern use. Yearly awards are even given for the worst offenders!

With all of this bad sentiment brewing amongst the work force, the results from a recent survey conducted by news survey aggregate Shirabee are a little less shocking. 1,006 men and women ranging in age from 20 to 69 were asked:

“Have you ever wanted to kill your boss?”

A whopping 27 percent of those surveyed answered “yes“, meaning over one in four respondents have felt the stirrings of homicidal urges – most likely brought on by unfair business practices. Even factoring in the likelihood that participants were joking, that’s a scary amount.

The response to the survey’s results, and even the anecdotes shared above has been mixed. While many share the frustration that comes from feeling your boss doesn’t care if you live or die unless it affects their pay check, some pointed out that if the workers really wanted to stay home they should just do it, just like one impassioned husband did when he needed to look after his wife. Others added that just quitting is healthier on the psyche than harboring murderous intent year after year and complaining about your bosses online.

It’s not all doom and gloom in the corporate world, however. Amidst all of the outrageous stories of bosses pleading employees to walk hours just to sign an attendance sheet, there was this little spot of hope from Twitter user @kzk13069.

“Me: I made it home safely after the earthquake.

Boss: Great to hear. Do you need tomorrow off too?

Me: No, it’s okay. Sorry to cause trouble.

Boss: Oh, don’t worry about it. This is just how it is with earthquakes.”

This is a 'white company.'”

Sources: Shirabee via Nico Nico News, Otakomu

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese worker’s job threatened for drinking non-alcoholic beer during break

-- Nearly one in four Japanese adults admits to crying in the office bathroom in new survey

-- Tokyo advertising company institutes mandatory lights-out time following employee suicide

© SoraNews24

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
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Interesting story, but terrible article. Filled with unattributed anecdotes from Twitter users. One story starts with "Here's a typical scene at..." Typical? Modern journalism.

I mostly never had these experiences in Japan. I was there for 7 years at 5-6 jobs teaching English and survived the 3/11 Great Tohoku Earthquake in Sendai, where I lived, as well as other smaller quakes. Classes were always cancelled, mostly because the trains had stopped. Once we were required to check in with the head office, a 10 minute walk away, just to get an update, but again, mostly because the cell networks were dead. All the bosses were former teachers, usually female. Awesome experience.

I had two or three great work experiences, one bad boss that I wanted to kill, and one truly terrible company experience. I will not redact the company name, the truly awful company was CocoJuku. A racist, conservative pathetic attempt at an English school with the same work environment mentioned in this article. So I quit.

They stuck me in an office in a brand new school on the 20th floor of an office tower, made me do paper work and sales campaigns, and taught zero lessons because they had zero students! But we wore full suits and made super lesson plans and had very clean and expensive electronic whiteboards. I walked out in the middle of a 9-hour shift after about 5 weeks of work. Filled my time with private tutoring and a part time job for 8 months after that while studying for a new online teacher certificate in prep for the next job!

Then again, I've had the exact same great and terrible working experiences in Canada with a dozen different jobs. I always quit and found the next one. The work climate in Japan, at least for ESL teaching is exactly the same as anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately Japan and Japanese people are not big on personal responsibility. There's a lot of people in Japan who could solve their own problems by finding new work. Maybe it's not possible in other fields, but change will only come from the workers and employees themselves.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just what wtfjapan wrote.... heck, now is the time because the labor market is tight. What cracks me up though... many Japanese consider it a virtue, a Japanese virtue in that they just shut up and bear it. Sure it can be a virtue but when employers take major advantage of it.... it becomes a handicap.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 If everyone collectively kicks up a big enough fuss things will have to change. well thats what mind control in disguise as social harmony does, make most into drones without opinions easy to control and manipulate by those with power.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Fed up

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The workers need to start a workplace revolution. If everyone collectively kicks up a big enough fuss things will have to change.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If you weren’t already at work by the time the quake struck, you should be fired. /s

0 ( +0 / -0 )

that this is neither a serious news operation or is it a reliable source for surveys of Japanese public opinion.

Sounds like another supposed "serious" news operation site that I often stop by at! Well said!

Sadly too many folks take things at face value now a days, and believe what they have read is "fact"

> Although "Bullfighter" is surely right that such a small, open-to-the-Web news gathering may not reflect real Japan's thinking, perhaps it IS right that so-called extroverted Japanese are also aware of their interior feelings and so mastering them. A survey in a less "Zen" culture might turn up persons who THINK they would never stoop so low and yet are in fact harboring such sordid fantasies. Nevertheless, beware of casually passing on this sort of popular psychology--many English-Speakers (here or abroad) will fail to understand and judge you unusually murderous!!

Seriously? After what bullfighter wrote? You really are going out on a limb.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They say jump we say how high.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Although "Bullfighter" is surely right that such a small, open-to-the-Web news gathering may not reflect real Japan's thinking, perhaps it IS right that so-called extroverted Japanese are also aware of their interior feelings and so mastering them. A survey in a less "Zen" culture might turn up persons who THINK they would never stoop so low and yet are in fact harboring such sordid fantasies. Nevertheless, beware of casually passing on this sort of popular psychology--many English-Speakers (here or abroad) will fail to understand and judge you unusually murderous!!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Shirabee is not a proper public opinion or surveying agency but rather a news aggregation site that surveys readers about the articles it publishes.

しらべぇは、「気になるアレを大調査!」するニュースサイト。世の中の話題や気になるネタを独自調査で深堀りし、その結果をランキング形式の記事として配信します。

https://sirabee.com/about/

In technical terms, it surveys are not surveys of Japanese people in general but the people who happen to read the articles on the shirabee.com site and happen to be interested enough to take the trouble to respond.

Even those who cannot read Japanese should be able to tell by looking at the site

https://sirabee.com/

that this is neither a serious news operation or is it a reliable source for surveys of Japanese public opinion.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Worst bosses I ever had were a white guy and a white woman. the worse bosses ive had have all been Japanese , so whats your point.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I don’t mind working after a major earthquake if I’m safe and my neighbors don’t need me. But I think it’s an irresponsible policy for companies to demand that workers come in on overburdened transport systems and getting in the way of first responders. Business does need to continue and get up and running ASAP. But businesses in Japan don’t seem to have business continuity plans that allow staff who don’t need to be in the office to work from home if they are able. It’s bad company policy (no work getting done during extended commute, stressed workforce, decreased productivity) and it’s bad government policy (slower physical and economic recovery). Earthquakes are shouganai. Our response to them is not.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Some of this seems like overreaction. Just asking if you are ok and if you are coming to work seems pretty innocuous.

If you have an hourly job, being told that you can still come to work and get paid would be a positive if you weren’t affected by the quake personally. Seems like they were just offering the option.

”Just getting on with it” is a way of recovering that is more productive than sitting at home rehashing your emotions.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How about an article on this:

While there are many, many perks to life in Japan

Might be interesting!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Those SMS messages following disasters are pointless. I never replied to them, and nothing ever came of that.

Perhaps if you had replied N then the company would have posted a Job Description matching yours upon their website.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Lol, this is why I burned my Japanese passport over a decade ago.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

When there is an earthquake, just explain to the boss that the uake has jammed the front door and it cannot be opened. If there is no way to leave the home then there’s no way to get to the office.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Stand up to bullies! Don’t accept wrongdoings.

I am Japanese and decided since I’m mixed blood and treated different here, that’s fine, but I’m also gunna never take any wrongdoing or aggressions from anyone.

I’ve clashed with people at every company so far then ended up being promoted in each and every company so far as each time, my work was superior.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

In case of an earthquake, typhoon or else, we would receive a text message to which we had to answer two questions : Are you safe ? and : are you able to work today ?

You know this on the surface is not unreasonable. While some folks may not be able to work, others might, and just asking these two questions is not enough to determine how asinine the company is OR is not.

My company asks similar questions; Are you safe? and Can you make it in safely to work today?

If we answer "no" to either question you can expect a call or message shortly after from a senior manager or higher, checking on you to ensure that everything is ok, and if assistance is needed.

I suppose that makes my company a "white" one!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

But if they all bumped off ther bosses, instant improvement in management practice across the country :)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Morale of the story is... for the 25%, commit suicide before homicide. You need to be added to a watch list if you seriously were honest on this survey

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Worst bosses I ever had were a white guy and a white woman. Both were narcissists and would change their expectations on a dime. Best strategy for me is to ignore unreasonable requests and take a walk or day off.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Me: There is an earthquake and the city’s infrastructure is at a standstill

boss:... teeth sucking

me: I’ll be there promptly. I can ride my daughter’s bicycle.

On the ride to work the trains have started

crossbar is closing for the oncoming train. What a beautiful option.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Aly, hatred for bad bosses burns forever. If I saw my first boss out of college walking down the street now, she'd probably be in her mid 70s. And I swear if she were using a cane, I'd kick it out from under her.

Anyway, good to hear (it reported) that it's not only foreigners who think J-bosses are nightmares. Anyone who has, like, talked to a Japanese person in their life and brought up the elusive subject of work--whoa, the stories they tell.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I left a trucking job years ago because if I hadn't I would have killed a sempai there. It literally came down to that. I still seethe thinking about that punk.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

“How can you say that to someone who was just victim of a major earthquake?”

Yup. But hey..... in that country folks just think “gambate-gambate” suppressing & bottling up up their true feelings and emotions. I don’t know how they live in those kinds of circumstances / expectations.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

And this is why we've got all those ticking time bombs walking around. Plenty of good companies around ifnyou can't stand your current one. Also this is a sora news article, best taken with a grain of salt

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Worker: T-There was an earthquake

Boss: The deadline is tomorrow, alright?

Blood. boiling.

"Take that deadline and shove it up your #$%"

How can you say that to someone who was just victim of a major earthquake? Some serious lack of common sense and sympathy, but what else is new sigh.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I once worked with a real idiot.... god he was the worst but I knew he didn't have the power to fire me so I fought him tooth and nail. Whenever he went at me I went straight back at him harder... I belittled his software design... because it really was crap and I told him so in very definite terms. I think more Japanese should just tell their hated bosses to "go to hell" any time they are unreasonable.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

There’s something seriously wrong with Japan!“

I’ve been saying that for years. Employees are not employed by a Japanese company. They are owned just like slaves were 150 years ago. The only difference is they get a salary. The working conditions are pretty much the same.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

The other 3 are lying.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Remind me of my previous job : we had to register to an automatic alert system.

In case of an earthquake, typhoon or else, we would receive a text message to which we had to answer two questions : Are you safe ? and : are you able to work today ?

And as I know this company, even an earthquake may not be an excuse to close shop.

As for the survey, I never wanted to kill my boss, but punch him, a staff member or a client in the face, absolutely. Maybe even bomb the workplace (when nobody's inside of course, I'm not a criminal...).

11 ( +12 / -1 )

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