Work and Lifecourse in Japan

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

An even more startling indication of change is Yama's decision in 1982 to hire a young American woman with a Master's degree from a leading American university as the company's third non-Japanese employee -- the successor to my own successor. She was selected from 30 candidates, both men and women, through interviews conducted at locations throughout the United States. In 1976 it was almost unthinkable to hire a non-Japanese; the company has now actively recruited a person who is not only non-Japanese but also a woman to do the work normally done by a man.

Other signs of change are evident. The report in mid- 1982 of the Women's and Young Workers' Problems Council, an advisory panel to the Ministry of Labor, calling for an end to sexual discrimination in employment is one such sign. ( Japan Times, 1982:2) But fundamental changes in women's work careers in Japan will proceed only as fast as changes occur in attitudes in the larger society concerning the proper roles of women in the home and office. And these changes are likely to occur slowly.

Dedicated to the women of Yama Shōji --
wherever they may be now. . . .


Notes
1.
Molony ( 1978:3-4) also sees increased opportunities for Japanese women to pursue work careers outside the home.
2.
Jones ( 1976-1977) found this idea expressed by a manager of an electrical company, interviewed by Asahi Shimbun, who said that "women employees do little more than serve tea and perch on their chairs until marriage. Marriage is a woman's true happiness, and all women can do is to keep house and rear children."
3.
Yama, meaning "mountain," is the name I have made up for the GTC where I worked. "Shōji" is commonly used in company names and in such cases can best be translated as "Trading Company." So the English name of my company, were it to exist, would be "Mountain Trading Company."
4.
The figures given for Yama are intentionally altered to prevent easy identification of the company. These changes, however, are unlikely to result in any serious misrepresentation of the company's size, character, or operations.

Japan's Big Nine GTCS, in descending order of size by total sales, are Mitsubishi Corporation; Mitsui and Co., Ltd.,; C. Itoh and Co., Ltd.; Marubeni Corporation; Sumitomo Corporation; Nissho Iwai Corporation;

-179-

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