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Tweet of the Week #127: Comedian’s Advice to Recruits, ‘Don’t Like it? Quit!’

Japan's new generation isn't so fast to accept toxic work environments.

By 3 min read

In Japan, April is when companies welcome their yearly batch of recruits, most of which have just graduated university. It’s an important moment because traditionally, works join a company for life.

Quitting for anything other than marriage or pregnancy is frowned upon, even if you discover your work environment is toxic. The older generations expect recruits to push through with a message of “gaman spirit.”

Gaman is a term that comes from Japanese Zen Buddhism and means “to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.”

Comedian Masayasu Wakabayashi has a different message to recruits.

To all the new recruits

明日あしたから新社会人しんしゃかいじん皆様みなさま

“To all the new recruits, starting tomorrow…”

Your value as a human being doesn’t change if you run away.

On a recent episode of げきレアさんをれてきた (I brought a super rare person), co-host Ayaka Hironaka asks Masayasu Wakabayashi to cheer up new recruits who are starting from April (4月しがつから新生活しんせいかつというかたも、エールを).

To which he replies, イヤなら、やめろ! (“If you don’t like it, quit!)

This raw honesty triggered a wave of reactions on Twitter, with users such as @umi10231023 debating the advice’s merits.

Many approved the need for new workers to escape if they find themselves in a toxic work environment, arguing that quitting does not equate to “running away.”

‘Balance is key’

見捨みすててるようにこえるけど、自分じぶんまもれるのは自分しかいないってことかんがえるとかなり真理しんりだとおも

げた程度ていど人間にんげん価値かちわらない

“It sounds like you’re giving up, but I think it’s true considering you’re the only one who can protect yourself. Your value as a human being doesn’t change if you run away.

Other voices cautioned that work doesn’t always come easy, and young recruits also need to toughen up if they want to advance in life. Like for many things, balance is the key.”

‘Clenched their teeth’

もちろんわかちゃんのってることにも一理いちりあるんだけど、いまのオードリーがあるのはホントにつら時期じきに若ちゃんも春日かすが歯食はくいしばってめなかったからなんだよね。本当ほんとうに辛いときは逃げたほうがいいけど、頑張がんばるのも大事だいじ。その塩梅あんばい見極みきわめるのが必要ひつようだと思う。

“Of course, there is a reason for Waka-chan to say that, but the reason why Audrey [Masayasu Wakabayashi’s comedian group] exists is that both Waka-chan and Kasuga clenched their teeth during a tough time and didn’t quit.

It’s better to run away [from a bad situation], but it’s also important to do your best. I think it is necessary to identify the situation.”

How to use Japanese particle なら?

iyanara, yamero!

The particle なら, which translates to “if,” is a conditional particle that follows a sentence gives us the conditions for an event or situation to happen.

  • イヤなら、やめろ: If you don’t like it, quit.
  • あついなら、エアコンをけましょう: If you are hot, let’s turn the AC on.
  • 風邪かぜなら、やすんだ方がいい: If you have a cold, it’s better to take the day off.

なら can also refer to counterfactual conditional statements.

  • もしあなたが、王様おおさまなら、なにをしたいですか: If you were to be a king, what would you like to do?
  • もしわたしがあなたの立場たちばなら、おなじことをするでしょう: If I were in your place, I would do the same thing.

Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
新社会人しんしゃかいじん shinshyakaijin New working adult, member of society/company (especially for newly graduated students)
新生活しんせいかつ shinseikatsu New life (start of a, entrance in a)
エール eeru Cheer, yell of encouragement
見捨みすてる misuteru Give up
mi Oneself, one’s body
真理しんり shinri Truth
人間にんげん価値かち Ningen no kachi Man’s worth, human value
一理いちりある ichiri aru Have a valid point
歯[を]食はくいしばる Ha [o] kuishibaru Clench one’s teeth, endure
塩梅あんばい anbai Condition, state, situation
見極みきわめる mikiwameru Identify

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