Media Mix, Nov. 23, 2014

Rina Sasazaki

Rina Sasazaki

Here’s this week’s Media Mix about that fourth-year university student whose informal employment agreement to be an announcer for Nippon TV was cancelled by the broadcaster when it found out she used to work part-time as a bar hostess. Though the controversy has rightly focused on NTV’s reasons for letting the woman go, it’s strange that no one has mentioned the naitei aspects of the matter. “Naitei” is the word that is used to describe this informal method of recruiting unversity students for companies. As every media has pointed out, Rina Sasazaki was recruited during her third year at Toyo Eiwa University, and was even receiving some training before she told her liaison about the hostess job. Since one condition of the informal agreement is that the applicant not seek similar work elsewhere, Sasazaki’s lawyers, as well as several media, have cried foul because it is now too late for her to secure work as an announcer at another broadcaster. But she doesn’t graduate until next spring, and now that she’s been let go, what’s to stop her from looking somewhere else? What’s stopping her is the naitei custom, which seems to have a time limit, and one that is not quite as “informal” as the name suggests. For years now, the way that companies recruit college students has been criticized, mainly because it obviates the need for students to do anything during their senior year. Though these agreements are informal, almost all the students who receive them go on to work for the companies that offer them, and most are offered before the students enter their last year of study. Since they are guaranteed jobs, there’s little incentive to do more than the bare minimum to graduate, and it seems most students just cruise through that last year. Universities don’t care as long as they get their money, though it also appears that instructors and professors, so as not to make obvious that this sort of slacking is common, give out better grades than the students deserve. The purely cynical among us (or purely practical, depending on your own level of cynicism) will say this hardly matters; that the whole Japanese university system is rigged so that once you are enrolled in an institution of higher learning it is to the benefit of that institution that you remain for the duration, so grades are kind of beside the point. It’s why Japanese college life has the reputation of being one long vacation between the exam hell of high school and the work hell of corporate servitude. In any event, Sasazaki ended up being a victim of the naitei system, though I’m sure in the beginning she thought of herself as its beneficiary. From all reports she planned her ascension to her dream job of joshi-ana carefully and resourcefully — including that stint as a bar hostess — so it’s easy to imagine her disappointment when the system she followed so well betrayed her.

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2 Responses to Media Mix, Nov. 23, 2014

  1. Oliver says:

    Philp, you write that “and most (naitei) are offered before the students enter their last year of study”, but from my experience I can say that a naitei is normally offered in (and not before) the last year of study. Typically students would enter job-hunting (shushoku-katsudo) towards the end of their third year (so in December 2013 for those graduating in March 2015), get the naitei in spring or summer the following year (which is the students’ fourth and last year) and attend a “naitei-shiki” on October 1st, exactly half a year before starting work at the company. Rina Sasazaki’s case must be an exception, as she got her naitei a year earlier than all of my own students.

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