One in four surveyed Japanese workers admits to wanting to kill boss; Osaka quake helps show why
While there are many, many perks to life in Japan, the culture around work is ever controversial. With employees considering deeply if they’re even allowed to take sick leave or duck out of work for a few minutes to buy a boxed lunch, it’s no wonder there’s a whole world of unvoiced resentment bubbling away beneath some workers’ civil facades.
This was thrown into sharp relief at 7:58 a.m. on Monday, June 18, when Osaka suffered one of the most intense earthquakes in decades. Trains and buses were thrown off schedule, stranding millions of harried commuters, and for some it was simply impossible to get to work or school. There was also the sad fact that they would need to wait hours to return home and reassure their families in person.
It’s the kind of traumatic event you would expect bosses across the country to sympathize with. And yet, from Twitter poster @mgr_toki: “Once it was clear my boyfriend couldn’t get to work, he came home to email his supervisor about it and they promptly replied with ‘Please walk to the office to receive your wages for the day.’ It took him an hour of walking to reach his workplace, where at noon all the staff were told to evacuate the building and return home, which took another hour’s walk. There’s something seriously wrong with Japan!“
And from @charlotte_delta: “Typical scene at a “black company” post-quake:
Worker: Hello, who’s calling?
Boss: Thanks for your work today. I noticed you didn’t submit your report. Is everything okay?
Worker: T-There was an earthquake t-
Boss: The deadline is tomorrow, alright?
This is just how it is with big corporations.
In particular it’s how it was with the big corporation I worked at, Ni**hin.”
@AyAri_cat tweets: “When the earthquake hit I got an email from my boss. It said: ‘Is everyone safe? All staff, please respond to this email to ascertain your safety.’ So far so good, right? The next line: ‘Are you able to attend work today? Can you do business? If so, please let us know.’ Japan is a country of wage slaves.”
This selection is just a sampling of a multitude of similar tweets to the same tune: while Japan does have a kind of leave designated for this kind of emergency (特別年休 tokubetsu nenkyuu, or special leave) some companies fail to make it clear that it can be taken, or obscure it with complicated bureaucratic procedures. The policy of caring about your employees only so far as they support the bottom line of the company is a long-standing problem, to the extent that the neologism “black company” is in frequent modern use. Yearly awards are even given for the worst offenders!
With all of this bad sentiment brewing amongst the work force, the results from a recent survey conducted by news survey aggregate Shirabee are a little less shocking. 1,006 men and women ranging in age from 20 to 69 were asked:
“Have you ever wanted to kill your boss?”
A whopping 27 percent of those surveyed answered “yes“, meaning over one in four respondents have felt the stirrings of homicidal urges – most likely brought on by unfair business practices. Even factoring in the likelihood that participants were joking, that’s a scary amount.
The response to the survey’s results, and even the anecdotes shared above has been mixed. While many share the frustration that comes from feeling your boss doesn’t care if you live or die unless it affects their pay check, some pointed out that if the workers really wanted to stay home they should just do it, just like one impassioned husband did when he needed to look after his wife. Others added that just quitting is healthier on the psyche than harbouring murderous intent year after year and complaining about your bosses online.
It’s not all doom and gloom in the corporate world, however. Amidst all of the outrageous stories of bosses pleading employees to walk hours just to sign an attendance sheet, there was this little spot of hope from Twitter user @kzk13069.
“Me: I made it home safely after the earthquake.
Boss: Great to hear. Do you need tomorrow off too?
Me: No, it’s okay. Sorry to cause trouble.
Boss: Oh, don’t worry about it. This is just how it is with earthquakes.”
This is a ‘white company.’”
This article appeared in Japan Today