The Japanese Work Environment

Apparently, Japan itself resembles an image of the Japanese work environment that is based on what they called “Shinsotsu-Ikkatsu-Saiyō” or simultaneous recruiting of fresh graduates and Shūshin-Koyō or lifetime–employment model.

The said workplace scheme is being used by huge companies along with the typical reputation of long work-hours and solid devotion to the company.

Such economic apparently reflect the country’s economic conditions since 1920s, back when huge corporations competing in the international marketplace started to accumulate the same status that had conventionally been recognized to the daimyō or the retainer relationship of outdated country or government service in the Meiji Restoration.

Generally, prestigious companies recruit and retain the best employees by offering them better benefits and absolute lifetime job security. Therefore, by the 1960s, employment in such prominent companies has become a goal of the children of the new middle class. And, as such, in an aim to achieve success in the closely competitive education system of the country, families chasing such goal have stimulated their resources as well as each individual’s perseverance.

In exchange for some degree of job security and benefits like housing aids, insurance, use of recreational facilities and other bonuses and pensions, employees are automatically expected to work hard and show loyalty to the company. Salaries usually begin low, but seniority is always rewarded with promotions which are normally based on either or both ability and seniority.

Leadership in the Japanese workforce is not based on an employees’ assertiveness or ability in decision-making but on their skill to build harmony, taking into consideration the needs of their subordinates.

In fact, recent surveys found a sustained preference for employers who exhibit toughness but show concern for their employees’ private lives than less-demanding employers who are interested only in good job performance.

The country’s employment system rewards employees’ behavior exhibiting identification with the team effort, shown by singing the company song, not taking all of one’s vacation days and even sharing credits for accomplishments with the work group.

Pride in an employee’s work is usually revealed through competition with matching sectors in the company or between one’s company and other competitor companies. Thus, each employee is motivated to maintain harmony or “wa”, as well as to participate in group activities, not only in the workplace but even after working hours socializing or “nomikai”. However, the appearance of group loyalty may be more an issue of ideology than practice, particularly for employees who can’t make it to the top.


Aizelle Joe