Today is March 8, International Women’s Day. And on today of all days, I was more than a little surprised to see the results of this survey asking ‘Is a woman’s place in the home?’
Among developed nations, Japan’s survey result stand out with almost half of the respondents answering ‘yes’, a woman should stay at home and not work. Overall the survey showed that one in four respondents answered yes, so obviously Japan figures highly in that count. Here are the rest of the results (yes vs no, in percentages): Read the rest of this entry »
There’s a great post over on learn2lingo.com about some important points of Japanese business card (meishi) etiquette: Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s an amazing photo set from Jeremy Sutton Hibbert showing how tea is served to CEOs behind closed doors in company board rooms. While tea serving is an important tradition in Japan, this practice in business raises some interesting questions about the roles of women in the office, and what kind of expectations are placed on them.
I mean, has anyone ever seen a man serving tea? In a company that doesn’t have a secretary specifically paid to perform this kind of role, I wonder if some female employees aren’t asked to do stuff like this on top of their regular duties? Are male counter-parts exempt? Read the rest of this entry »
People usually only talk about the bad parts of working in a Japanese company. The hours, the hierarchy, and the intrusiveness of being part of a group. Ptyx was working in a design firm and he had his last day on Wednesday. His coworkers threw him a wakarekai, a “good bye” party:
Unless you’ve worked in a japanese company you have no idea how much this is a big deal. Japanese people put the emphasis on being part of a group and a work group in today’s society is as important as a family can be.
Read more on his blog.
UPDATE: Taro reminds anybody leaving their Japanese job to collect the all-important “Permission to Leave the Company” certificate before walking out the door (see the comments below).
Japan, with its falling population, plans to toughen its gender equality laws, making it easier for women to resume working after having children. “The Health and Welfare Ministry will propose an amendment to the 1986 law that would ban employers from treating women unfavourably because they are pregnant or have young children. Employers would also be prevented from firing a woman who was pregnant, or who had a child under a year old, unless they could prove that the employee’s family situation was not the reason.” Read the article
Our company has just been through a re-structuring, a Company Renaissance — seems our boss had a brainfart late one night. The office has been divided into “teams”, with the suits, sorry, salespeople renamed “Producers” and team members renamed “Team Leader”, “Meh” or “Assistant Newdude”, according to time served. This, after we were already comfortable in what I had thought to be very sensible divisions according to skillset — sales dudes sell, web dudes do web … Instead, apparently, this new structure will “give teams the opportunity to focus exclusively on particular accounts”, no matter what your skillset may or may not be, in order to streamline workflow. So far I’ve only seen everyone asking each other many questions.
We were also assigned new seating arrangements to bring team members closer together, warm fuzzies. But here’s the kicker — two of the older employees were moved to a different … building. A company we work with from time to time has an office down the road. These two diamonds were allocated sunny new desks, down the road. I’m thinking, we have phones, we have email, we work on servers, but what about all the meetings we could do a good deal better streamlining workflow without? What about the fact that the affiliate company does something entirely different to what we do? It’s like buffalo assigning new sleeping arrangements, “so would you two mind going and sleeping in that tree over there?” Took a week to organise new workspaces, new phone extentions, new business cards … Streamline.
Here’s an article written on the issue of redundancy in old, die-hard Japan.
These guys are at it every morning the sun is out, perhaps inside when it’s not. Nothing like doing your morning exercises together to build team spirit while keeping fit …
I only wish I could give you the background music — they’re stretching to the theme of Rocky!
There is also this phenomenon, more common among the Japanese, I feel, to have a keen sense of peripheral vision. This guy caught me snapping his funky mug and is probably paranoid of doing his daily exercises out front now …
No time to brush your teeth in the morning? No problem! Grab a pack of NoTime chewing gum.
Listed under ‘Gourmet Foods’ at Amazon.
“As a woman, I can rise much higher at a foreign company than at a Japanese one,” says Yuka Tanimoto. “The Japanese business culture is not changing quickly enough for people like me.” TIME Asia’s August 29 cover story provides disquieting insight into the current situation for modern Japanese women in the workplace and at home. Read the article …
In response to Taro’s rather sardonic words of wisdom (see: “Getting a job in Japan, the hard way”) you gotta be a little harder than that.
True: it’s not easy starting off in a foreign country. You don’t know the people, the culture, the language or the lay of the land. You need to establish food, shelter, income, contacts. This takes time and only a little effort, if you’ve already made the decision to succeed. As Taro pointed out in his follow-up article (see: “Getting a job in Japan, the easy way”), there is the option of coming to Japan on an Ex-Pat package and having everything organized and paid for by your employer. But what if you decide to change jobs? You’re on your own. Personally, I’d rather be doing it my way from the first, rather than be handcuffed to a company that isn’t my own. Which brings me to another option: if you have the resourses, start a business in your home country and recruit yourself to scout prospects in Japan. Not the easiest or most realistic option for many people, but an example of available options nonetheless.
My thing is, you gotta have an open mind and a positive attitude. Those of your reading forums and blogs written by foreigners who have lived in Japan for a while may notice a common thread of pessimism and bitterness in many writings. Well, in the words of Eddie Murphy, “If you don’t like it, you can get the fuck out!”
Expect to meet hurdles, hardships and annoyances — things are done differently here. There’s red tape, there are lingual and cultural barriers, there are dickheads. That’s the world we live in. Again, if you’re open-minded, come with a positive attitude and are open to exploring and enjoying the differences, you’ll go far. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Just fuckin’ do it.