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Japan's Corporate Slaves Put Humor to Hard Work

Categories: Japan, Citizen Media, Development, Humor, Language, Technology, Youth

[All links lead to Japanese language pages, except when noted otherwise]

With a twist of humor, moral and technical support has been pouring in across social media sites for Japan's “corporate slaves” or shachiku [1] as they are referred to in Japanese slang.

There is even an App! It's called “Friends of [2] Shachiku“.  [2]

The application allows shachikus [2] to automatically “like” and “share” their boss's Facebook posts. It also generates bookmark URLs of what their boss has shared or liked on Facebook. The app even has a feature that allows you to decide how frequently you want to “like” your boss's post; all you have to do is press the button, “Be a desirable shachiku“.

Hisaju [3], is the freelance engineer who created this application [4]:


It doesn't intend to be a perfect solution for what your are struggling with at work, or even for your self-esteem. I made this app in the hopes that people will laugh for a moment when they use this service, and give them a brief respite from their daily struggles.

As of December 12, 2012, “the number of bosses” that users of this application registered was 9,669.

A Japanese boxed lunch, [5]

A Japanese boxed lunch Bento, with “Gozensama” (a term wives use for their husbands who work late) written on the rice. Image by Flickr user Y.S.K.31 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Shachiku [2] is a newly coined mash-up of kaisha and kachiku, which are Japanese for corporation and domestic animal. The mash-up literally translates to white-collar workers who have been domesticated by corporations and now live off their salaries without free will.

Playing off the traditional Japanese card deck karuta and the slave-like conditions shachikus endure, in December 2012, the hashtag #社畜死亡かるた (translation: #WordPlayOffShachikuDeath) went viral on Twitter.

(Note: To understand the following tweets you are going to need a crash course in karutaKaruta cards either have symbols on them (Japanese hiragana alphabets in this case) or proverbs. The following tweets take inspiration from “Iroha Garuta”, a popular karuta game that is played by matching symbols and proverbs. So in the following tweets, Twitter users match alphabets with short proverb-like sentences about the shachiku.)

For instance, one user described the harsh working conditions that the shachiku endure:

@Tarodigy [6]  [7]: 胃カメラ飲むまではひよっこ扱い。 #社畜死亡かるた

@Tarodigy U: Until you work so hard [that you get ulcers] and have to swallow a gastro-camera, you are just a little boy [that can be ordered around] #WordPlayOffShachikuDeath

Another user referred to bosses who think working over-time is the norm:

@hebomegane_sun [8] [9]「上の判断をあおがないと定時退社できません」 #社畜死亡かるた

@hebomegane_sun O: Only special permission can allow you to go home. #WordPlayOfShachikuDeath

And this user decided to highlight low wages:

@teracy [10]  [11]:「給与明細みたくない」 #社畜死亡かるた

@teracy P: Paycheck is to stare at and get sad. #WordPlayOfShachikuDeath

Regarding invitations to after-work socializing:

@YangZerstoerung [12]『ま』 [13]:「また飲み会か…」 #社畜死亡かるた

@YangZerstoerung N: Not Again. Another obilgatory dinner with the boss. #WordPlayOffShachikuDeath

All of these tweets invite bitter smile to readers.

@kirikami [14] used togetter [15], a tool that aggregates tweets, to create a page on this topic. The following comments were posted there:

@hiro_britpop [16]: 社畜大杉w 泣けてくる → #社畜死亡かるた – Togetter http://togetter.com/li/397644

@hiro_britpop: LOL. too many “shachiku”. It makes me cry. → #Karuta of Shachikus’ death (#社畜死亡かるた) – Togetter http://togetter.com/li/397644 [15]

@hhhrk [17] このタグ私を見てるみたいで、みんなもそうなんだ!と安心しかけたw #社畜死亡かるた

@hhhrk This hashtag seem to talk about my situation. I almost felt relieved to know that everyone is like me. #Karuta of Shachikus’ death (#社畜死亡かるた)

@kirinnnn [18]「うちの会社は誰も文句言ってない」という経営者に見せてみたい。RT @work_bpt: #社畜死亡かるた – Togetter http://bit.ly/WJmo1J

@kirinnnn: I want to show these tweets to the manager who thinks that “No employee complains in my company” RT @work_bpt: #Karuta of Shachikus’ death (#社畜死亡かるた) – Togetter http://bit.ly/WJmo1J [19]

[1] “Gozensama” means to come home after midnight, or a person coming home late. According to a Japanese dictionary of slang [20] it is often used by wives to refer to their late-working husbands.

Proof reading:Sahar Habib Ghazi [21]Keiko Tanaka [22]