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Tanshinfuninn - Working Away from Home

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  • #16
    Originally posted by mijokijo View Post
    Yikes, that sucks. Why not just find a new job with his fresh PhD? I can understand having loyalty to the company, especially since they let him get a PhD, but after a year or two of moving around, I would see the "favor" repaid.
    Errr, well I guess he doesn't want to start over again. He's in his forties, has been with the same company since he graduated uni and his father was also, so he'll put up with it for the long-term benefits to his family's future. And for him he can never really repay the obligation.

    Originally posted by mijokijo View Post
    Yikes, that sucks. So people apply for tanshinfunin, too? Didn't know that. Are they both Japanese?
    Yes, they are. They were fine living abroad when the kids were young. I don't think they really 'apply' as in put in some paperwork, but make it known that they want to be transferred again. The mom had a very hard time coming back. She loved being abroad and hated coming back to Japan. That's why I teach her kids too, she liked the education systems in the US and the UK and wanted her kids to keep up with English. But India wasn't on her agenda so suddenly the kids' schooling in Japan means they can't go .


    Originally posted by mijokijo View Post
    When I first told my parents about tanshinfunin, my mom asked, "So, do they have a problem with cheating?" For Americans, I think that might be a common question to ask. She is especially sensitive because her first husband cheated on her, but he did it at her house. So, you husband or wife doesn't need to be far away for them to do those kinds of things, but it makes it easier (and makes people more desperate). And as has been demonstrated in this thread, there are some people that are well aware of this fact and take advantage of it.
    As you say, I think it depends on the marriage and the people involved.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by ttokyo View Post
      First, this 'Tanshinfunin' only applies to a certain part of the business world, i.e. mid-level male managers at larger Japanese companies who have a more or less guaranteed 'lifetime employment'. The guy who owns the flower shop next door or the company receptionist will not have to suddenly move to Hokkaido. So this mainly affects the upper middle class in Japanese society, people who are in their 30s or 40s, with kids in School and who are earning enough to have purchased their own house or condo. On the other hand you have the company wants these managers to gain experience and also streamlime their corporate culture by transferring employees around the country.
      Okay, good to know. I've heard of doctors that had to work away from home for a long time, too, but that is kind of typical of doctors. My dad's dad was a brain surgeon. When he was interning (or whatever doctors do before coming doctors), he had to move around the country several times. However, he took his wife and 8 kids with him.

      What do you mean by "streamline their corporate culture"? I'm not sure what that means.

      For many families it does not make sense to give up their house just for 2-3 years when it's clear that they will be transferred back. Also, these families put a high value on education and the Japanese system is very inflexible. Getting into a famous university means a good carreer in corporate Japan and disrupting the kid's education by a transfer might mean they could fall out of the system. To give an example, if your 15-year old son has secured a place at the Waseda High School this means an almost automatic transfer to the famous Waseda University, but moving him out to relocate to Hokkaido would most likey mean that he's out.
      Also, as was pointed out, many Japanese have 'marriages of convenience' and living apart might even has its advantages for some couple. Rather than getting a divorce, the couple might just agree that the husband becomes a tanshin-funin, thus saving the fassade for everyone. It would be interesting to have a statistic that shows how many of those cases are 'divorces in disguise'.
      I agree. If you have a definite return date then 2-3 years might be okay (I say that with no experience, however, so what do I know?). If your kid has a good future ahead of him, don't screw things up for him long-term for only short-term benefits. But, I've heard that 10 or more years of tanshinfunin is not uncommon. That's a long time to be separated from your family. In that case, I suppose you could call it a "divorce in disguise", but then the husband is left supporting a family he doesn't really feel attached to (except for the obligation he feels to support it).

      My friend told me that wives often have to readjust to having a husband living with them after having a long-term separation. They get money for several years, raise some kids, but otherwise have no obligations and can do whatever they want (at least, that was the impression I got). I can see how that sort of lifestyle could have its benefits.

      Actually, I'll try to search for more information on the "divorce in disguise" idea. I'd forgotten about arranged marriages. I suppose to pressure to get married to someone would be especially true of the upper-middle class since they have may have a reputation to maintain.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Bella Bowtruckle View Post
        Errr, well I guess he doesn't want to start over again. He's in his forties, has been with the same company since he graduated uni and his father was also, so he'll put up with it for the long-term benefits to his family's future. And for him he can never really repay the obligation.
        So, if he got a new job some place else near home then he would make less money or lose some special benefits?

        I can see why some people might be loyal to a certain company, especially one that your father worked for as well. However, that's only in cases where the company treats you well and respects the fact that you have a family. I guess this is where my culture and Japanese culture disagree. I'm sure some Americans would be willing to maintain that kind of loyalty to their employer, but I imagine they would be rare (and of a different social class than my own).

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        • #19
          I'm with you. I'm willing to show loyalty to a company (..or rather I was), but I expect that loyalty back, and sending me away from my family for more than a few weeks at a time isn't showing me loyalty in my books.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by mijokijo View Post
            So, if he got a new job some place else near home then he would make less money or lose some special benefits?
            I guess. Also, I think it's fairly common for there not to be much notice given. I think this guy was given about 6 weeks and from what I hear that's not unusual. It's not a lot of time to quit and find a new job with all the same benefits, though one could always take the transfer and look for a job closer to home in the meantime I suppose. Then again, if you were already far from your home by that time it would make job hunting tough.

            Originally posted by mijokijo View Post
            I can see why some people might be loyal to a certain company, especially one that your father worked for as well. However, that's only in cases where the company treats you well and respects the fact that you have a family. I guess this is where my culture and Japanese culture disagree. I'm sure some Americans would be willing to maintain that kind of loyalty to their employer, but I imagine they would be rare (and of a different social class than my own).
            I agree. I know another case where the couple had just got married and the wife had just had a baby and the husband was transferred only two months or so after that. Almost like the company was doing it on purpose. Whether they thought his new family would be a distraction or something I don't know, though he was already working long enough hours as it was and couldn't spend much time at home. In that case the wife was from the US and had no 'sympathy/understanding' for the system. It put such a strain on their marriage that she eventually upped sticks and went back home where she had more of a support system and just told him that if he wanted to save the family and spend time with them he'd have to follow her there. He didn't.

            Apropos of not much at all, this thread has reminded me of a time ages ago when I was assaulted as I was walking home from work one night. When the police were getting details from me I told them that the guy had been wearing a suit and had seemed pretty clean-cut, and he had also seemed to imply that he lived nearby. One of the policemen then nodded knowingly and said that I lived in an area with a lot of company dormitories/apartments. He told me that 'being separated and living away from their families like that can make them funny in the head and they do strange and bad things. It's not good.' He seemed quite sympathetic to the guy, which didn't go down too well with me at the time. I also got the sense that what had happened to me wasn't an uncommon occurrence around there.

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            • #21
              IMHO, family is #1. It is the breadwinner's responsibility to arrange his/her career around that.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by oxymoron View Post
                IMHO, family is #1. It is the breadwinner's responsibility to arrange his/her career around that.
                Its hard to do that when you have no job / income. Ability to earn income often means the breadwinner is made to make sacrifices for his family.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by oxymoron View Post
                  IMHO, family is #1. It is the breadwinner's responsibility to arrange his/her career around that.
                  While I agree, that's not realistic for many (most?) salarymen. If they quit their job because they don't want to work away from home, they can't find another job - companies don't want to hire guys who aren't team players.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Effected After View Post
                    While I agree, that's not realistic for many (most?) salarymen. If they quit their job because they don't want to work away from home, they can't find another job - companies don't want to hire guys who aren't team players.
                    If you consider that companies dont even want to hire people in their second year out of university and still cant get a job, its even worse for a married guy with kids and wants to change his job or career. Japanese companies generally are not well equipped to hire people mid-career.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Bella Bowtruckle View Post
                      It's not a lot of time to quit and find a new job with all the same benefits, though one could always take the transfer and look for a job closer to home in the meantime I suppose. Then again, if you were already far from your home by that time it would make job hunting tough.
                      Yeah, I thought of that. It's not easy to go for an interview in Kagoshima when you're working in Sapporo.


                      It put such a strain on their marriage that she eventually upped sticks and went back home where she had more of a support system and just told him that if he wanted to save the family and spend time with them he'd have to follow her there. He didn't.
                      Damn, why not just move where he was working? I can understand that there might have been a culture issue, but still... I guess I can't judge though, since I wasn't there.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by KansaiBen View Post
                        If you consider that companies dont even want to hire people in their second year out of university and still cant get a job, its even worse for a married guy with kids and wants to change his job or career. Japanese companies generally are not well equipped to hire people mid-career.
                        I've heard about the issue with graduates not getting hired right out of college, but I don't really understand it. What do you mean that Japanese companies aren't "well equipped" to hire people mid-career? They don't have processes, or is it just cultural stigma (40 year-old guys starting at a new company getting the stink-eye or something like that)?

                        It seems to me that a company run by a non-Japanese would be able to recruit lots of experienced talent if they tried to. Is there anything like that going on?

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by mijokijo View Post
                          Damn, why not just move where he was working? I can understand that there might have been a culture issue, but still... I guess I can't judge though, since I wasn't there.
                          It sounds easy when you put it like that but, as you say, there were other issues as well. A couple of things to think about. Sometimes the accommodation provided for tanshin guys isn't family-friendly. If the guys wanted to move their whole family they would probably have to fork out a lot of money to set them up in a new place and some younger couples, especially ones with new kids, might not have that amount of cash, and it might be quite hard to relocate with a new baby.

                          Also, they're probably going to be working very long hours. Even if the family is in the same city, they might not see that much of each other. If it's a new city and the wife doesn't know anyone there apart from her husband that could be even more stressful than staying where she at least has her own social network.

                          In my friend's case, the original length of time he was supposed to be away was only going to be a year and then it was extended. My friend then made the disastrous mistake of moving in with her husband's family, thinking that it would ease some of the problems she was facing trying to bring up their child almost as a single mother in a way. The parents lived about halfway between where her husband now worked and where she had been living before, so she thought she would see more of her husband while still remaining 'near' to her friends. However, the MIL in particular made her life tough and had very different ideas about child-raising. Not only that, but she was now not able to have her friends just pop round and chat and help her out so ironically she ended up feeling even more lonely than she had been, especially as the husband didn't get home any more often. And when he did get home they'd argue. Or rather she'd nag. Things may have got easier over time, who knows, but she just got to the end of her limits and didn't like who she was turning into. Also, unbeknown to us at the time, we later found that the husband had started an affair with one of his coworkers, so your earlier question about cheating is relevant too. Maybe he wasn't making it home because of that rather than 'work', or maybe the new lady was more understanding of his work schedule.

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