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LIST  March 2017

LIST March 2017

Subject:

Re: Labor market elasticities

From:

"S. Urista" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

NBR's Japan Forum <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 16:24:36 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (221 lines)

I think one difference is that more people in the US and UK (particularly if they're working long office hours) are probably more likely to like their job / career. That's definitely true in my case; no way would I work the hours I work if I didn't love what I do.

I don't know many sararimen in Japan that 'like' what they do or view it as a fulfilling career. 
By and large it's just a job; away to kill the time waiting for the next inevitable jinji-idou.

I have known one or two exceptions that prove the rule, of course.

-S


Scott Urista
Executive Director
Mizuho Internatioal

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Smitka, Mike [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: 13 March, 2017 16:04
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [NBR's_Japan_Forum] Labor market elasticities
> 
> Thank you Rochelle for the many details. It’s a good overview. Two
> extensions
> 
> As you note, being a seishain is no picnic for anyone. One of my close male
> sarariman friends counted the days til he hit 60 and could retire with the
> normal benefits. He then kept working full-time at other things until age 70,
> it wasn’t that he wanted to not work, it was that he hated the sarariman
> thing, including dealing with subordinates.
> 
> Again as you note, there are clear analogs in the US. Students who go into
> finance can work until 2 am and then be expected to be in again at 7 am the
> next day [a Saturday], all so their “rainmaker” boss can have his powerpoint
> ready to let him play golf with potential clients. One alum came back and
> tried to put some realism into students, noting that he worked 365 days one
> year, every social event he tried to set up (still young and single) got
> cancelled. Most however were only interested in how much money he
> made…he was pretty discouraged, but I guess he himself hadn’t exactly
> wanted that sort of advice up front.
> 
> > On Mar 10, 2017, at 1:43 PM, Rochelle Kopp <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> >
> > I certainly don't dispute that the types of situations described by Scott U.
> and Jan are a significant issue in Japan. The situation seems to be getting
> better in recent decades by no means has been completely ameliorated.
> >
> > As depressing as such situations are, I don't think however that this is the
> whole of the story. I think the issue is more multifaceted. I believe that the
> following are also factors behind women not taking advantage of the
> seishain system:
> >
> > 1. At many companies one of the conditions for being a seishain is agreeing
> to be transferred to any location at the company's whim.  This is obviously
> not going to be attractive to women, especially once they get married and
> especially after they have children. Furthermore, Scott N mentions "LTE is
> also unlimited 無限定 in terms of duties, hours, location, and loyalty."  I
> discovered somewhat recently that this is an actual legal requirement upheld
> by the courts -- for example if you are a seishain and reject a job assignment,
> it is legally tatamount to resigning. This makes being a seishain less attractive
> to women.
> >
> > 2. This factor is my personal pet peeve (if Abe doesn't fix this Womenomics
> is just a lot of hot air): the preferential tax treatment for spouses whose
> earnings are below about $10,000 per year -- in other words, spouses who
> are not working in career positions. Combined with social pressure from
> family members, other mothers, schools, society at large (and as Scott U and
> Jan mention, in some cases bosses or co-workers) to be a stay-at-home
> wife/mother, not to mention lack of daycare access and its expense, I
> believe that the financial considerations engendered by the tax system are
> often the tipping point that cause Japanese women to drop off the career
> track.
> >
> > 3. Being a Japanese seishain is no picnic for anyone, with the long work
> hours and the stress. It is socially acceptable in Japan for women to get off
> the seishain merry-go-round and choose a different life focus. It's not
> however socially acceptable for men to do so. I bet a lot of Japanese men
> would quit too if they felt that they had a choice, and feel just as miserable
> with the other types of bullying and pressure in the workplace (it's not all
> gender-based) but instead they just gaman and carry on.  And indeed many
> Japanese women choose not to get on the seishain path in the first place --
> either because it doesn't look like much fun, or because why bother killing
> yourself (sadly, perhaps literally) with a stressful job in your younger years if
> ultimately you plan to get married and have kids and stop at that time (as
> many Japanese women believe you need to choose either marriage and kids
> or a career and can't practically do both). (Much has been discussed about
> the impact of the tragic Dentsu karoshi case in terms of galvanizing calls to
> limit working hours, I wonder if anyone has looked at the impact on young
> women of putting them off from wanting career track type jobs).
> >
> > 4. Japanese women who wish to get married may also be making a
> > rational choice by avoiding career track positions, as being viewed as
> > a "bari bari career woman" may be detrimental to finding a mate. I
> > recently saw some statistics showing that Japanese women in
> > professional career areas are significantly less likely to be married
> > then men of the same age (can dig up the reference if anyone is
> > interested), which supports  this hypothesis. Of course, the "men
> > intimidated by smart successful women" issue also exists in U.S.
> > culture (can share examples and cites on this too if anyone is
> > interested) but it seems to be much stronger in Japan.  Indeed, in
> > Japan there seems to be a very strong idea that being successful in
> > one's career is incompatible with being feminine. I wrote something
> > about this a few years ago based on my personal experience:
> > http://www.japanintercultural.com/en/news/default.aspx?newsID=145
> >
> > A final thought. Here where I live in Silicon Valley, in the past few years
> there has been a lot of discussion about issues for women in tech companies,
> including both the negative company atmosphere and the very poor diversity
> statistics. I've seen some excellent articles analyzing why many women at
> tech companies leave their companies or the industry as a whole (which I
> would be happy to dig up and share if anyone is interested), typically focusing
> on hostile work environments. When I read such accounts I often feel that
> one could switch out the details to Japanese ones and they would plausibly
> sound like they had taken place in Japanese companies. The issues seem very
> similar. It is worth keeping in mind that many leading Japanese firms are tech
> firms (albeit old school tech, but still having workforces dominated by male
> engineers just as in the Silicon Valley ones). So to what extent is this
> phenomenon a Japanese one or a tech company one? A mix of both I think,
> but a good question to ask.
> >
> > Rochelle Kopp
> > Japan Intercultural Consulting
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Jan Michael Rafferty [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> > Sent: Thursday, March 09, 2017 6:56 PM
> > Subject: Re: Labor market elasticities
> >
> > I haven't read all the posts in this thread but I can report the problem is not
> unique to Japanese companies and can be much worse than already
> described.
> >
> > According to three Japanese women (age range: 35-50) who are friends of
> my wife and who have/are working in the Japan-based branch of two
> different major US high-tech firms (as 正社員) problems of sexism and ageism
> are rampant. In addition to directly being asked by colleagues and
> supervisors "why aren't you home taking care of you family?" men, especially
> younger men, at their companies freely call them "obaasan" (old lady) or use
> other derogatory terms.
> >
> > In short, an oppressive, discriminatory atmosphere -- psychological torture
> really -- constructed by many men (primarily Japanese) inside these US firms
> consists of 1) why are you working here at your age and 2) why don't you
> leave so attractive young women can replace you? The abuse is regular and
> relentless.
> >
> > At least one of the 3 women close to 50 & with two school-age children is
> her family's main income earner due to her husband having been ill for more
> than 10 years. She hates her job and is desperate to seek employment
> elsewhere but worries whether she can obtain a job at an equal salary level
> for at least the next 10 years.
> >
> >
> >
> > ________________________________
> > From: S. Urista <[log in to unmask]>
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Sent: Friday, March 10, 2017 9:03 AM
> > Subject: Re: [NBR's_Japan_Forum] Labor market elasticities
> >
> >
> > Based on my long experience as a senior manager at major Japanese firms,
> my n = 1 answer is that by and large it is "female workers are generally not
> given the chance to benefit from the lifetime employment system".
> >
> > I have seen far too many talented female co-workers 'drop out' - but only
> because they were pushed out, almost entirely by older Japanese male
> bosses that decided that the woman needed to spend more time at home
> making babies.
> >
> > I wish I was even just half-joking, but I’m not.
> >
> > -S
> >
> > Scott Urista
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >> Arthur:  I wonder if it's " female workers do not benefit from the
> >> lifetime employment system " or is it really " female workers do not
> >> choose to benefit from the lifetime employment system."  For example,
> >> drop-out rate of female seishain is quite high, and also many
> >> Japanese women decide to not go after seishain positions in the first
> >> place even if they are
> >> (theoretically) available to them.
> >
> >
> >
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