Work and Lifecourse in Japan

By Samuel Coleman; Theodore F. Cook Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Where Security Begets Security: Concurrent Careers of Local Politicians

JACK G. LEWIS

A considerable number of individuals in Japan pursue multiple careers, even if "career" is narrowly defined as applying to income- producing or working roles. For example, many rural Japanese engage in farm work throughout their lives, while also maintaining careers in the secondary or tertiary economy. Many Buddhist clergy continue to offer their priestly services while pursuing careers in the business world. Professional athletes often maintain both athletic and business careers. Many urban Japanese housewives combine their homemaking careers with careers as teachers of an art or skill (tea ceremony, ikebana, calligraphy, cooking, etc.), as door-to- door saleswomen (Yakult, cosmetics) or in other door-to-door work (newspaper fee collectors, gas meter readers), or as part-time workers in small enterprises.

Yet another example is that of the local politican. There are 74,940 elected officials in Japan, only 763 of whom serve at the national level ( Jichishō 1978:552). The remainder serve as chief executives or members of the assembly in Japan's prefectural, city, town, and village governments. In some cases, elected politicans' political careers are so time-consuming or located so far away from home that they are forced, once elected, to concentrate on political activities. In Japan, national-level politicians, prefectural governors, and city mayors have a difficult time sustaining an active vocational role concurrent with their political duties. Most other politicians, however, carry on dual work careers while serving in public office.

In this chapter I look at the concurrent careers of members of the assembly in a single Japanese city from the earliest postwar election in 1947 to the most recent election in 1979. Mishima, a city of ap-

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