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Japan's Corporate Slaves Put Humor to Hard Work

[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 as they are referred to in Japanese slang.

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

The application allows shachikus 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, is the freelance engineer who created this application:

みなさんがコンプレックスや仕事など何かで悩んでいるときにそれを(アプリで)解消しようとは思ってはいなくて、そのサイトを見てクスっと笑って悩みがその瞬間だけでも和らげるようなサービスがあったらなという思いで作っています。

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,

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 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 : 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「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 :「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『ま』:「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 used togetter, a tool that aggregates tweets, to create a page on this topic. The following comments were posted there:

@hiro_britpop: 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

@hhhrk 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「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

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

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