Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

The Salaryman



The salaryman model is one that Japan has exploited since WWII. During that time, it was beneficial for the economy and the politics of the nation to inspire its men, fresh from the war, to return to valuable work. It was touted as a way to motivate them and boost morale after the effects of the war, but it was also very good at renewing Japan’s standing in the global environment after the demoralizing defeat and restructuring forced by US-led Alliance sanctions. By increasing Japan’s economic viability through the biopower provided by its little Energizers, it was able to join the high-stakes games of Capitalism and Globalization.

The problem, however, is the fact that Japanese men are becoming so overworked and disenfranchised over the idea of giving their life over to one company, while also facing the reality that in the current economic environment that might not even be possible, that they are turning away from the model in droves. Hikikomori and “herbivore male” models are becoming increasingly popular as they provide a way for men to escape the stress of growing up and participating in the “real world”, so they retreat to complete seclusion and fantasy.

My han partners have created very good paths on these subjects and so I would recommend any reader following the links below for more information on these very broad subjects. David's path describes the salaryman model in depth and the effects on the individual as well as society. Shannon Wu discusses other models of male behavior that are outside of this stereotype. Though there is evidence to suggest these models are changing, there will still be those that ascribe to the model either through dedication to tradition or a desperation to fit in with the status quo of society. For all its troubles, it appears that the only place the Salaryman is going anytime soon is an early grave.

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