Work in Japan

Leaving the office on time in Japan

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About the perks of living in Japan (compared to living in Singapore) – one of it would be the variety of local TV programs. Yes, in Singapore it is even the norm to subscribe to some kind of video content platform. The only obvious reason would have to be the local TV programs are… let’s just say, not so interesting. 

Yes, Japan does have an increase in the video content services. Mostly to catch up with foreign movies, drama series and special content like say, Terrace House from Netflix. Okay, digression. I’m not into the topic about how this whole video content industry works or whatsoever.

What was I trying to discuss about again? Oh right, leaving the office on time. Did you hear me right? Leaving the office on time? In Japan? I must be joking. That’s hilarious. 

No. I am not being humorous. Japan is slow in changing, but hey, come on, we are talking about in Asia, aren’t we? Asians are hardworking people, seriously! I guess, Japanese are probably just working too hard for mostly for the wrong reasons, that’s all. 

So there is currently this trend happening in Japan, where the government is promoting all about changing of working style. The so called “hataraki kaikaku” in Japanese. And so came the my main part of this post, the Japanese drama called わたし、定時で帰ります。(watashi, teiji de kaerimasu) Literal translation: I am leaving the office on time.

The lead actress, Yoshitaka Yuriko, for her first job used to work like crazy, over-time and pressurized by her boss, got into a serious accident (due to overwork), made her re-think about her life. So her next job, she decided that she would never work overtime while going for all her job interview. Tbh, this part is BS. In fact, there are quite a few illogical scenes in the drama which will never happen in real life, and this is one of them. No one will ever say they are not willing to work overtime in their first job interview. Come on, will you?? In a country like Japan? Well, dream on. It probably does not happen. 

Anyway, at least the drama tries to relate to the current trend about changing of working style, work-life balance blah, and more blah about better working environment. But the drama still mostly depicts the real life situation of a “black” company or in fact a “black” boss. (This “black” term is probably relatable to Japanese, to explain briefly, it generally means a bad company which allows employees to work overtime without extra pay or somewhere along the line) 

However, (and sad to say) companies with flexible working style only happens:

The industry you are working in

The drama depicts the lead actress working in a web agency company, creating company website and so on. Well, that surely does seems like a suitable background… but leaving the office on the dot, everyday? Really? And she’s not even in those administrative department. Her job is to service the client, getting requirements, scheduling and she could go back in time? No matter how efficient she is supposed to be.. not realistic in a company only filled with Japanese. She would have been discriminated silently tbh. A few years back, big ad agency D had caused a commotion when one of their newly grad employees jumped to her death. Main reason – she overworked and felt there was no meaning in life. And she was graduated from Tokyo University. This may have triggered the Japanese companies to be careful of overworking their employees. But stop overworking.. still seems like a futuristic ideology for the Japanese. 

The establishment of company 

Most big traditional Japanese companies will probably be quite rigid in major change in the working rules and regulations. Not to say I have deep insights in this, however, the older and more traditional a company is, the more difficult it is to make such changes. Japanese just really do not like changes IMO. They just want to stick to the same routine everyday and no change make them feel very secure. 

Not to say that all big companies follow that, exceptional companies do make that difference. For example, R company which all Japanese know, have pretty flexible working style. But it really still depends on the department or the company branch too. 

Does the HR cares?

Most HR seriously do not care much about making changes unless the top management directed them to do so. No? I am in no position to say this is the true case, but no one could deny this could be one of the reasons. 

To end with this slightly long post, the drama is actually pretty ridiculous when it came to the scene where the working mum decided to take a no paid leave, and leave for Kumamoto to be with her husband. Hello, first of all, you can’t just decide impromptu and announce publicly to the team. You got to inform the HR and the boss, discuss with them, set some kind of date before you say “ok bye team, I’m leaving.”

Still in the mood to look for a job in Japan? Well no worries, Japan is still livable – counting the seasons and food. Just make sure to be preserved, and even if they look down on you – you make sure you do not let that eat into you. Move on with it, forgive them with a bigger heart. 

And lol (just joking). 

P.S. just searched online and happen to see this article contributed by New York Times about this Japanese drama and work life balance in Japan. #funny 

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