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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Japan's Disposal Workers Net Cafe Refugees

Despite the poorly constructed English title of this particular blog that seems to make sense, but upon closer examination doesn't make any sense at all, it is a fascinating topic.

As near as I can figure it, the blog (and the film that inspired it), should be entitled: "Temporary Workers Are Refugees Living In An Internet Cafe", but what the hell do I know?

Down below is a short film by a Japanese film maker, that purports to be about poor people living in such cafes... but no... after watching it, it is more than that... it is about how two individual people choose to survive in Japan.

This video shows two (of the many) people who lack enough income to afford decent housing--whether it's an apartment or a house--who opt to live in an inexpensive Internet cafe.

But why do they live in such a cramped facility?

The movie starts off with one young Japanese man discussing that his temporary job as a security guard does not provide him with enough money to get his own place.

I can see that.

But this is not a new phenomenon. People all over the world have temporary jobs or even full-time jobs that pay little and provide zero health benefits.

What do they do?

In many instances, to avoid living on the street, they band together and share a tiny room with their combined income. Roommates.

This young man can't or chooses not to do that. Why? We don't know.

However, he does talk about what life is like for a person in Japan who has a temp job and shows his resourcefulness at how he survives.

Is it ideal? No. But he has shelter, heat, a computer to watch, and some money for food, a place to use the toilet... no shower, though. No health benefits. No companionship... but that's not the fault of being poor.

The second vignette shows an older Japanese man, who after 20 years working in IT on computers, quits his job. He was recently diagnosed before that with depression... but Japan still believes such things are a sign of weakness and a lack of company dedication... and so he was shunned.

Rather than put up with the hostile work environment, he quit his job. Bravo... but what about money?

While it wasn't mentioned how he gets his money now... or even if he is taking any anti-depression medication, he too lives in a tiny room at an Internet cafe... the same one, I believe, as the young temp security guard.

Is it ideal? No. At least he doesn't have to deal with the hostile work environment. Trust me, I know what that can be like.

Japan likes to believe that in the workforce, one can bend, but not break. It's like that every where else in the world, if you think about it.

In Japan... by bending, you are bowing... but you still shouldn't get angry enough to quit your job.

That man did not quit because of anger... he quit because remaining at that job would have crushed what remaining mental health he still had. I respect that.

But... to live alone in a cramped Internet cafe room? He's surviving... but what does that do to one's mental health?

Yes... the video shows two people living in single rooms at an Internet cafe... but it's not about being poor... but it is... I look at it as an alternate view of how people smartly survive (glass half full), but also as a look into Japan's abusive work society.

Unpaid overtime, afraid to take vacation... mindless labor with all the stress... no time to relax, spend time with the family... live life.

So... watch the video below... and see which view of Japan's world is the best?


All? One of those? None of those?

I don't feel sorry for these two guys. One did it his way and made a decision he thought was best for himself. That's to be applauded. Was it the best decision? Maybe not. He could have found something (job) else first then quit... or maybe saved up some money before quitting... you'll notice that the salary man made no mention of a family. Could he not have moved to a small town and found work? What does he do now?

As for the young temporary worker... without knowing anything about his mental health, working one's ass off in school could have netted him a better job. Does that mean he should have to live in an Internet cafe? No. Parents? Family? Friends? Could any of them helped him with money or a place to stay? The impression is that they are in a big city... if he's not from a big city, then he could go back home. I do feel bad for him..  but at least he's not starving, begging... has shelter, food, drink, warmth, a job and home entertainment. He's better off than most people in this world. Heck... he wants to get more education to better himself.

The living arrangements at the Internet cafe shown in the video would suck for me. Apparently they only have Pepsi-based drinks... but I suppose I could drag my butt outside to a Coca-Cola machine.I would also need an outlet for my C-Pap machine... but I'm betting a room with a computer in it also has electrical power. I am unsure what these guys are sleeping on, but a sleeping bag or bed roll isn't that expensive... stop smoking for five days, and presto!... now you can afford one.

These guys are the walking poor. There's more of them in every city or town than each of us would care to admit. Hells... my roof leaks. Theirs doesn't. (It's Saturday as I write this) I am off to buy a new computer today, as mine doesn't work very well. On the plus side, I have a television with 999 channels.. only there's nothing on right now. My printer/scanner died. Both by cars died over Christmas - one permanently. Everyone has problems. Mine aren't huge compared to others... but they are annoying because when I was in Japan I was the luckiest bastard on the planet.

Luck, however, is fickle. Like Japan's work environment for the vast majority.

I thank Julien for sending this video my way. I look at it as a failure of Japan's work society that doesn't allow people with mental health issues to thrive the way the rest of the country does.

Julien loses his job at my workplace at the end of this week, and will be unemployed with a wife and kid to look after. He can live at my house before they ever have to live in an Internet cafe, however. If he didn't know that before, he does now.

Most countries think they are enlightened... but when it comes to mental health, we're in the Stone Age as a planet.

Twenty years ago, I didn't know squat about mental health. I knew I had a schizophrenic uncle who though the television was sending messages to him whenever colors were mentioned (turn off the TV), and possibly a grandmother with undiagnosed mental health issues.

Now pretty much everyone I know around me at work and elsewhere has something. Bi-polar, social anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, minor Tourette's... take your pick. It's a cornucopia of pharmaceutica.

I could call myself normal, but what the hell is normal anymore? I think I'm in the minority with my mental health.

Mental health issues could be the new normal.

Somewhere not normal,
Andrew Joseph

1 comment:

  1. Awwwe thanks buddy. That means a lot. You're a good man and a good friend. Although I think my mental health will be better now.

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