chapter  9
6 Pages

Working Like Mad to Stay in Place

Reflections on Japanese Salary-men Today
WithKumazawa Makoto

The salary-man of today, regarded by so many Japanese as the very emblem of the contemporary citizen, believes that to sustain an ordinary, middle-class lifestyle he has no choice but to "work like mad." And because few people can sustain such a pace with a negative self-image, even those salary-men who initially approach their demanding jobs with reluctance and skepticism eventually come to regard their commitment and pace of work as a normal, even a desireable, state of affairs. In the workplace, salary-men are separated in harsh fashion into those on the fast track and those who fall short, the so-called window-seat tribe. Thus, a mainstream lifestyle is sustained only by accepting the severe pressures of life at work. Intellectuals of refinement may laugh at those who work like mad to stay in place, but for the mass of people in Japan, no space to achieve a critical distance from the intensity of working life.