New Employees

It’s been awhile since my last post. In fact the posts have been a little sporadic for the past few weeks. I’ve been pretty busy teaching since Golden Week. See, in Japan, this is new employee season. I’ve taught several intensive, new employee training seminars. It’s exhausting for me, but even tougher for the students who have to listen to some loser in a loud tie jabber away at them in English for seven or eight hours a day. That’s hard enough for native speakers.

April is new hire month in Japan. It’s kind of like a sports draft, except their are no rounds and no rules to keep it fair. Simply stated the big, stable, powerful companies pull the best and the brightest from Japan’s Ivy League equivalent, moderate companies pick from moderate universities, and the small, new or less powerful companies pull from the trade universities and junior colleges.

In April, thousands of people find themselves employed for the first time in their lives. This employment often means leaving their hometowns and families and shacking up in a big dorm in the industrial countryside with several hundred of their new best friends.

It used to be these new recruits would spend the rest of their lives wearing that same company’s jumpsuit. But lifetime employment in Japan is slipping from under the feet of these new recruits like sand as the tide recedes. Now some of these new employees tell me they expect to be with their companies three to five years before something will cause a parting of the ways.

Japan’s changing faster than most Japanese are comfortable with. The young don’t expect to live in the same Japan as their parents. And as we tumble headlong into the future none seem to have any idea where we are going.

But one thing hasn’t yet changed. The April lines for public transportation commuter passes were still crazy long. Many were buying one for the first time.

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