Japanese Government's Part-Time Worker Anime Video Draws Criticism

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

The Japanese government's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) produced an anime video and pamphlet about freeters (people subsisting on part-time jobs) in 2015 as part of its youth employment initiatives. Although the anime video debuted about two years ago, it gained media attention this week, and the concept of the video has been drawing criticism. The MHLW uploaded the full 17-minute anime video below on YouTube in November 2015.

The video centers on Takumi Shimamoto, a 22-year-old freeter who quit college in his second year under the pretense of finding something that interests him to pursue. He's been working part-time jobs for about two years. He runs into a classmate from high school named Ayaka Yoshimura. She is about to graduate from college and is thinking about her job prospects. Ayaka is considering doing part-time work for the time being because there is not a job in particular that she wants to do.

Takumi and Ayaka go to meet Yūsuke Morisaki, the boyfriend of Ayaka's sister who also happened to attend the same college as Takumi. Yūsuke was a freeter for a while after graduating, but then he became a regular company employee. He tells the pair about his friend Kirishima, who is also Takumi's acquaintance from college. Kirishima wants to become a film director, but he is currently working part-time jobs and making independent films. Yūsuke tries to encourage Takumi and Ayaka to become regular company employees.

In the video, Takumi also discovers a possible timeline for his life as a freeter while doing research online. At 30 years old, a new manager younger than he is could start at the convenience store he works at. On the other had, if he were a regular full-time employee at a company, he could get a promotion at work and start to take on a bigger role. At 40, he could want to settle down but still not be able to find a good place to work. But if he were a full-time company employee, he could become section head by that age. By 60, Takumi could still be making wages barely higher than a high school part-time job. Whereas, if he had was full-time at a regular company, he could retire at that same age.

By the end of the video, Yūsuke convinces Takumi and Ayaka to use an employment service to help them build up their resumes, get training, and find standard full-time jobs. Takumi and Ayaka finally seem happy as they start using the services.

Although the anime describes living as a freeter as "not bad" in itself, it shows obvious bias against extended part-time work. The video highlights all the negatives of part-time work while emphasizing only the benefits of regular full-time employment.

Few Japanese people seem to completely approve of the video, and it has received many negative reactions since it started creating a buzz online this week. Some online commenters said that instead of criticizing the freeter lifestyle, the government should focus on improving the living conditions of part-time workers. Many net users called for more balanced portrayals of both part-time and full-time work. Other people thought that MHLW was out of touch with the current circumstances of Japanese society and was effectively creating more anxiety among the populace with such a video.

Source: TV Asahi via Hachima Kikō

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