Ask a Salaryman
What’s it really like to work in Japan? We asked Ueda-san, a representative salaryman, for his views on overwork, family, and foreigners in the workplace. Despite speaking no English, he responded in his own unique style.
What we learned
There’s a clear need to reform Japan’s working culture. But the biggest obstacle to reform could be the people who would benefit most: Japan’s notoriously loyal ‘salaryman’ class.
A diverse workforce, performance-based evaluation, and better work-life balance. These all sound like common-sense goals for a working nation to pursue. But for workers conditioned to rely on stability and unwritten rules, any kind of change can seem threatening.
Before attacking Japan for not changing its ways, we should spare a thought for all those affected. That includes people who might lack the skills or temperament to succeed in a workplace that’s more individualistic and global.
When asking Japan to change, pay attention to the silent majority and don’t be too dazzled by the changemakers. That’s an idea our salaryman can get behind.
Interview: David Willoughby/Workers U
Model: Hayato Danda/Pakutaso
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