Kazuya Kasahara, a journalist and full-time lecturer from Shitennoji University in Osaka, Japan, spoke at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus as part of Salt Lake Community College’s faculty exchange program.
The visiting professor says that practicing journalism in his home country is a hard and demanding career.
“To understand Japanese journalism is to understand Japanese culture,” Kasahara says.
He delivered two lectures about Japanese work culture and journalism. Kasahara holds a master’s degree in political science and a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Before going into education he was a staff writer at a prominent newspaper in Japan.
“The positive aspect of Japan’s strong work ethic is that it enhances company loyalty and solidarity among employees, but it also leads to stratification and politics, usually determined by age and time with the company,” Kasahara says.
Kasahara says that the two main traits of Japanese employees are loyalty and the ability to work long hours.
Employers gain loyalty from employees by offering lifetime employment, often hiring students up to a year before they graduate. Most jobholders will work at one company until retirement.
Kasahara showed a picture from his own hiring ceremony in 2003 when he and 43 others were hired by the newspaper. He says 38 of his “co-hires” are still employed there. Kasahara is one of the few to leave; he was ordered to write about economics when he was more interested and qualified in covering politics and government.
His wife also gave him an ultimatum: continue working long hours, or stay married.
“In Japan, journalism is one of the hardest career choices,” Kasahara says. “In all jobs there is a need for a good life balance.”
Kasahara also discussed some of the political and cultural aspects of Japanese society.
When asked how women fit into the workforce in Japan, Kasahara states, “[Japanese employers are] still very traditional but society has forced them to accept more women.”
According to Kasahara, the biggest difference between journalism in the United States and Japan is, “The government. In Japan the government must read everything before it can be printed.”
In 1945, Japan was at its lowest and citizens were forced to plant potatoes in the front lawn of the majestic Tokyo Diet, the branch of government similar to the U.S. Congress. Tokyo today is a beautiful, modern and prosperous place.
“Japan has been able to come so far because of the country’s strong work ethic,” Kasahara says.