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Japan: Toyota's Just-In-Time System and the Akihabara Killings (Part 2)

(Note: the translation in this post was a collaborative effort by blogger and translator nofrills, blogger and GV author Taku Nakajima, user Saifis, and GV editor Chris Salzberg.)

In the first part of this two-part series, we translated the first half of a blog entry [ja] by blogger boiledema [ja], who presented a very personal perspective on the Akihabara massacre on June 8th. In the blog post, boiledema described conditions in the factory where Tomohiro Kato worked, information that he received from his father, who has worked for decades at the exact same factory. This information from his father conflicted in a number of ways with the reports in the mainstream news.

In this second half, boiledema elaborates further on Japan's temp worker industry, expresses his frustration at Kato's actions on June 8th, and provides further details about Toyota.

Toyota's Kanban System, Applied to Humans (Part 2)
(Japanese title: 人間までカンバン方式)

The half of the post starts with a passage that boiledema asked to be inserted in this translation, in order to emphasize the way the blogger feels about Kato's actions. This passage begins:

また、無差別殺人の背景には、それ以外にも生い立ち、学校生活、関自以外の職場でのストレス、その上未熟な人間性など、さまざまなものがあるだろう。犯人の心の裡は犯人にしか分からない。

There were also various other [factors] in the background to this indiscriminate killing: [Kato's] personal history, his school life, stress accumulated outside his work at Kanto Auto, and beyond that his immature personality. Nobody else but Kato knows what was inside his mind.

どんなに孤独だろうが、どんな心の裡があろうが、
当然、他者の命をゴミのように扱った犯人は人でなしのクソヤローだ
そこは何度強調しても間違いではない。

But however isolated he was, and whatever was inside his mind, what he did was to take the lives of other people and treat them as if they were garbage. He himself is a disgusting scumbag, and not even human. This is a point that can't be overemphasized.

また、当たり前だが、製造系派遣労働者は犯罪者予備軍ではない。私の問題提起が、派遣労働者=犯罪者予備軍としての新たな差別意識を招いてしまうなら、それは本意ではない。

工場の中で、アイツ等人殺すかもしれないしな、という眼差しで見られるようになるなら、より孤立を深めてしまい、本末転倒である。

Also, this may be obvious, [but better to state it], temp workers in manufacturing are not a bunch of would-be criminals. If in my raising these issues, I have brought on a new sense of discrimination in the equating of temp workers in manufacturing with would-be criminals, then this was not my intent. If temp workers in factories start getting looks like: “your type might kill someone”, then the isolation will deepen even more. [To regard and treat them as would-be murderers] is to get the whole idea the wrong way around.

だが、少なくとも犯人にとって関自での環境は、表面張力ギリギリの憎悪をあふれさせる大きな最後の一滴だったとはいえないか。

However, at the very least one could say that the environment at Kanto Auto was the last drop that caused the hatred on the surface to start overflowing.

無論、大きくてもそれは一滴であり、そのほかの様々な要因がなければ、他の人間はあふれさせることはない。

Of course, as large as it was, it was only one of the drops. You usually don't expect it would break and let the hatred overflow.

また、ここ最近、若年層の雇用の不安定さ、中でも製造系派遣の悲惨さについて訴え、改善を求め地道に活動してきたガテン系連帯などの人たちがいる。

だが、こういう地道で、正当な方法に則った勇気ある行動ではなく、彼の道ならぬ残忍な行為によって派遣労働に目を向けるのはあたかも、テロに屈しているような、口惜しさもある。

Also, in recent years there are people in places like “Gaten-kei Rentai” [Phyical Laborer Union] who have made appeals about the instability of youth employment, including the miserable work environment of temp workers in manufacturing, taking actions to demand improvements, but in a low-profile way. Kato's high-profile rampage attracts more attention, and more and more people are talking and thinking about the temp workforce. But this feels like we're yielding to acts of terror, which frustrates me.

The post then continues:

関東自動車でも他の会社と同様、派遣労働者を積極的に活用しはじめたのは、今から大体10年ほど前だと思う。
それまで、期間工として補充していた枠を派遣に変わるようになっていた。
父から聞いていた話だと、派遣会社によって賃金も待遇もバラバラで、おおむね期間工よりも賃金は安い。しかも雇用形態はきわめて不安定で、いつクビになるか分からない。

[A few more things about Kanto Auto Works.] Like other companies, Kanto Auto Works started actively hiring temp workers about ten years ago, I believe. Until then, the factory had been using “term-employees”, contracted for a set period of time, which they then switched for temp workers.
What I heard from my father is that temp workers are cheaper in general than term employees, though there are differences in wages and working conditions [according to which agency is arranging the staffing.] Employment status is also uncertain [for temp workers], and you never know when you may lose your job.

父からも、子供がいて派遣だけでは食べていけないから、工場労働の後に土方のバイトをしている人の話を聞いたことがある。
非常に優秀な人なのに、地元に職がない、学歴が無いなどの理由で派遣労働しか選択肢がない、わずかしか給料がもらえないなどの現状に父なりに歯がゆさを感じたらしい。

My father once told me about a guy who is on a temp contract. He has a family to support, and his wage at the factory is not enough, so he works part-time as a construction worker at night. There are cases of highly talented people who have no alternative but to work for a temp agency just because there is no work in their home area, or because they have no academic background. For them there is no choice other than working as temps, accepting the low wages. My father felt frustration about this reality.

一方で、職に対するこだわりの無い派遣を見下しているようなところもある。
ロスジェネ真っ只中の私も現在デスクワークの派遣だが、自分の会社の派遣の待遇を見ているせいか、ずっと正社員になれと言っている。

At the same time, he somewhat despises temp workers, who have no commitment to their job. I myself am one of the so-called “the lost generation” [those who had difficulty finding full-time jobs during the recession of the 1990s], and I now work at an office as a temp worker. I'm always urged by my father to become a regular, full-time employee. He says so because he knows first hand how temps are treated.

[…]

今回の犯行について、樹海に入っても誰にも気づかれず死ぬのは嫌だった。
己の存在で社会に爪あとを残したかった。そう思うなら、こんな選択肢にはまりこんでしまった彼の愚かさを呪う。

Apparently he didn't want to die in the black forest [see note] without anybody knowing about it. He wanted to show his existence. He wanted to leave a mark on this society. If this is the case, it's damn foolishness of him. [He must have had other choices,] but he chose this one.
[Note: black forest is a forest at the foot of Mount Fuji where many people commit suicide.]

貧困の問題に対して、5重の排除というものがある。教育、企業、家庭、公的福祉、そして最後が自分自身からの排除だという。

They say that in poverty, there are five five layers of exclusion: exclusion from education, from the corporation, from family, from public welfare, and lastly, from one's own self.

どうしょうもない絶望に追い込まれた人は、自分の不甲斐なさを呪い、自分を追い詰めてしまうという。理由は本当は外にもあるのに。
ほとんどの人が絶望を前に勝手に一人で死んでいるのだ。

If they look outside, not inside their own troubled selves, they may find a reason. But people who are driven to hopeless despair curse their own worthlessness, and drive themselves into a corner.
In so many cases, people faced with despair die alone, on their own.

絶望の背景を他者に見出すことができたなら、それをなぜ別の手段に訴えられなかったのか。歯がゆくて悔しくて、悲しく憎らしい。
ああ、まったくお前はバカだ。バカすぎる。

If it had been possible to identify the despair as having been brought on by someone else but him, then he should have taken some other means to make his voice heard. This frustrates me so much, saddens me so much. It embitters me so much.
You are such a fool, Kato. Such an idiot.

トヨタと言って思い出す話がある、3月まで一緒に働いていた人がかつて、銀座でホステスをしていたという。
今は足を洗って派遣なのだけど、そのときの顧客にトヨタの幹部がいたそうだ。

Speaking of Toyota, I am reminded of my ex-colleague who used to work in Ginza as a “hostess” [as female bar workers are called in Japan], until March of this year. She had since quit that job and now works at an office as a temp worker. During her time working in Ginza, she had one valued customer — an executive at Toyota Motor Corporation.

銀座で湯水のように金を使い、ある日幹部は彼女にドレスを送ったらしい。ベルサーチの豹柄のダッサイやつ。だけど値段だけはやたらする代物だったそうだ。

This executive spend money like it grew on trees, apparently one day he bought her a dress, a Versace leopard-print patterned dress, really tacky but apparently it cost a fortune.

高級な銀座では、アニマルプリントは着ないけれどVIP中のVIPなので仕方なく着たそうだ。

She wouldn't wear an animal print like that in Ginza, but apparently he was a VIP among VIPs, so she had no choice and she wore it.

ここ数年、大企業幹部の収入は増え、一般労働者の収入は減った。

[But I digress…] In recent years, the incomes of executives in large corporations has gone up, while the salary of the ordinary worker has gone down.

各地の工場で派遣労働者が買い叩かれるその一方で。

While temp workers are being brought into factories at “bargain” prices.

安易な手段に訴えても、嗤う奴は嗤ったまま素通りするのだ。

You could resort to an easy way to get your voice heard, but this just would be ridiculed by them. These guys would just pass by laughing.

それからもう一点、ここ数年盛り上がってきた派遣労働をめぐる運動について、非常に悔しい点がある。

One more thing, regarding the labour movement of temp workers that everybody has been getting excited about over the past few years. There is one extremely frustrating aspect [of this movement].

関東自動車は最初に述べた通り、派遣労働をすべて切ろうとしている。親会社のトヨタそのものがそういう意向である。

As I stated at the beginning of this post, Kanto Auto Works is planning to layoff all of its temp workers. This is the intention of the parent company, Toyota Motor Corporation.

派遣労働をやめてしまうことで、派遣問題そのものが無きものになってしまう。
無論、国内需要が減ってしまったのも原因だが、コストがかかって組合とかが絡んでウルセー派遣使うなら、海外に移転してしまった方がいいと思われてしまったかもしれない。

That is, as there will be no “temp workers” there in the near future, there will be no more “temp workers problems”.
Of course the drop in domestic demand is also a cause, but perhaps they just thought to themselves, isn't it easier just to transfer everything abroad rather than deal with these whining local temp workers, pay higher costs, and get entangled with unions?

派遣はなくなるが、日本の雇用そのものが空洞化し、国外に移転する。

The temp workers will go away, but Japanese employment itself will also hollow out and transfer abroad.

派遣がなくなった代わりに、失業者が増えてしまう。プレカリアート運動を密かに応援していた私としては
「お前らが余計なこと騒ぐから」と後々言われないか心配でもある。

I have silently supported the movement of “precariat workers” [whose jobs are poorly paid, insecure and unprotected]. And now, my dilemma is that people will be saying, “They made a lot of noise and guess what? They just made it worse! All the jobs have gone abroad!”

Another note was added to the translation by boiledema:

また、このような許されざる犯罪をもって、派遣労働の問題点を語ることは、元々労働運動に忌避感を抱いている人にとって、
あいつらは自分達の売名のために犯罪者さえ担ぎ上げると、より不信感を抱かれる原因になりはしないかとも思っている。

Another concern of mine is that, among people are skeptical of labor movements, talk about the problems of temp-workers on the occasion of this kind of unforgivable crime may provoke even more distrust. They may think to themselves, “These guys are elevating a felon just to publicize their own movement!”

The post then continues:

最後に亡くなられた方のご冥福をお祈りいたします。

I pray for those who were killed. May their souls rest in peace.

随分犯人に同情的な話になってしまいました。無論、犯人は許されてはなりません。その点は強調しておきます。

This post of mine may seem to be very sympathetic to the perpetrator. Of course his act is totally unacceptable. I want to emphasize this.

会社から近いから秋葉に線香あげに行って来ようかな。

Akihabara is not far from where I work. I'll pay a visit to offer incense sticks.

Saifis, nofrills, and Taku Nakajima contributed to the above translation. The author (Chris Salzberg) however takes full responsibility for the contents of this article.

3 comments

  • I very much appreciate the role the internet plays in allowing such voices to be heard. I will link this post in my blog and value being able to refer to it both to learn for myself and impart understanding to others. I am honoured to meet quite a few Japanese students in UK visiting my university and I was recently given a wonderful time in Akihabara when I visited Tokyo. These things are invisible when one is fortunate and content and kindly hosted. Simon

  • […] Blogger boiledema's thoughts on the Akihabara massacre on June 8th. Boiledema gives a personal take on the Toyota factory where Tomohiro Kato worked, as well as the Japanese temp worker industry as a whole. This entry resonated with many in the Japanese blogosphere, and Global Voices answered the call from the Hatena community for this entry to be translated into English: Part One and Part Two. […]

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