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This is pretty twisted.

by Billy Berghammer - September 14, 1999, 8:26 pm PDT
Source: Gaming-Age

A little anecdote from a guy who worked for Sega in Japan.

And I am not kidding. You think you have a crappy job? This is pretty sick. How would you like to work for Sega in Japan? Then read this story over at Gaming-Age. You will think about it again. Here's a little excerpt if you think I am just nuts.

On a cold and rainy Monday last December, Toshiyuki Sakai's bosses at video-game maker Sega Enterprises Ltd. told him his work was below par. They suggested that he quit, and offered him a severance package of 2.6 million yen ($23,900) if he agreed.

Mr. Sakai, a shy 35-year-old with thick, curly black hair and an equally thick stubborn streak, turned them down on the spot: He felt his performance was fine.

Three days later, Sega told Mr. Sakai to take home all personal belongings, turn in all company property and report to an office dubbed the "Pasona Room," after the English word personnel. He arrived to find the room empty, except for a desk, three chairs, a bare locker and a telephone that couldn't make outside calls. Mr. Sakai was given no work to perform and allowed no diversions.

He was being laid off, Japanese style.

"I'm not going to be able to hold out for a day of this," Mr. Sakai recalls thinking. Months later, however, he was still clocking 40 hours a week there.

Cases like Mr. Sakai's are popping up as corporate Japan belatedly gets serious about trimming their bloated white-collar work forces. They have stepped up their restructuring efforts even as the country's economy has started showing signs of growth again after years of recession. The jobless rate here has jumped to 4.9%, the highest since Japan started keeping statistics in 1953, and many economists expect the rate to continue rising.

But while the country's famed system of lifetime employment is beginning to crumble, social taboos and legal constraints still make it tough to dismiss workers outright. As a result, employers are devising creative ways of nudging people out the door, and workers are hanging on to their jobs for dear life.

Indeed, Mr. Sakai, whom Sega ultimately fired in March, has gone to court in an effort to recover his job. In a lawsuit that's unusual for Japan, he contends that his firing was invalid because the company offered no facts to support its allegations that he performed poorly and had no hope of improvement.

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