Society for the Anthropology of Work
General Anthropology Division
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
Ever since alarm has been raised about Japan’s declining population (a census decline of 0.7% from 2010 to 2015), the prospect of labor shortages has been discussed in media and by policy makers, such as the IMF (Ginelli and Miake, 2015). The Abe government implemented measures for increasing participation of working women while also promoting limited immigration of laborers in certain categories. Concomitantly, the assistance of robots has been seen as a way to deal with these problems (Robertson, 2017).
This paper looks at labor shortages through examination of this triad and inherent competition promoted in the “fixes.” Further, a set of questions is explored around these categories; Does an increase in working women entail a decline in reproductivity rates? How does a gradual increase of robots affect the patterns of reproduction in Japanese families, with the envisioned typical family of 2025 as two parents, a son, daughter and robot? Does an increase in the number of immigrants mean that labor requirements for less skilled jobs will be satisfied so that Japanese citizens can focus on higher skilled jobs in affective labor categories (Thomas and Correa, 2015)?
Japanese work patterns based on this triad of solutions is clearly inadequate to understand the range of problems posed by production/reproduction dynamics that are also driven by global capitalism and research in this paper based on interviews and cases of Japanese labor sectors critiques the categorization of work reduced to a problem of more production (and reproduction) rather than of human potential.