New recruits start first day on the job in Japan
With crisp new suits and fresh haircuts, thousands of Japanese 20-somethings started their first day on the job Wednesday in an annual ritual that traces back to the country’s fast-disappearing jobs-forlife work culture.
At Japan Airlines, more than 1,000 firstday employees tossed folded paper planes at a ceremony inside a giant hangar.
The bosses at shoe cream maker Columbus buffed new hires’ shoes, a reminder they’ll have to live up to its motto: “A little sparkle makes a big difference.”
An executive at an aquarium north of Tokyo welcomed one of the venue’s new hires in an underwater ceremony — both wearing scuba-gear over their suits — which the neophyte later described as “a really valuable experience.
April 1 is the start of Japan’s fiscal year, a day when tens of thousands of new recruits — some awkwardly struggling to get comfortable in formal attire — fan out across Tokyo and other major cities to report for their first day of work.
Missing the big day, known as “shinsotsu ikkatsu saiyo” in Japanese, can hurt procrastinators who often struggle to find jobs after leaving school — companies visit campuses to get their hands on creamof-the-crop students before they finish their studies.
Over at the Bank of Japan, governor Haruhiko Kuroda sternly informed about 140 aspiring central bankers what was expected of them.
“As central bank employees, you must have a sense of mission,” he said.
Meanwhile, the chairman of troubled Skymark Airlines thanked 11 new hires for actually turning up to work at the nowbankrupt — but still operating — carrier.
“We appreciate you very much for choosing Skymark at this difficult time,” Takashi Ide said.
About 90 percent of new university and high school graduates start jobs at a time which was traditionally seen as the beginning of the lifetime employment that defined Japan’s post-war rise.
The popular image is one of selfless employees devoting themselves to the company, working punishing hours as they toil for Japan’s future and accepting they will be molded into the firm’s corporate culture.
But those attitudes are changing as the economy struggles and firms offer more contract and part-time work, giving young employees fewer benefits and little incentive to devote their life to the company.
Critics have blamed Japan’s notoriously rigid workplaces for stifling innovation and creativity in an increasingly competitive global market.
Japan Airlines (JAL) President Yoshiharu Ueki, front, and new employees of JAL Group toss carefully folded paper airplanes into the air during the entrance ceremony at a hangar with a Boeing 777 in Tokyo on Wednesday, April 1.