In spite of the highly touted wonders of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new economics plan, often referred to as Abenomics, there are many large companies across the nation preparing for major layoffs and general downsizing. An anonymous internet user has shared with Japanese site News Post Seven his perhaps justified feelings of paranoia over how companies are using invasive internet searches to decide who stays and who gets the boot. We’ll refer to him simply as Mr. Nakagawa, and hope that this name change is enough to save him from his boss’s proverbial wrath.

It should be noted that Japan is very serious about separating who you are at work from who you are in “private.” Your private life includes everything from your hobbies to your lover, whether what you do with them is behind closed doors or not. If it’s not work-related then it’s private. However, with a potential major money crisis on the horizon, Japanese companies have started crossing that line and meddling in people’s private affairs.

Nakagawa is a big fan of anime and manga, though he never allowed this to interfere with his job. He created a special blog and Twitter account for writing up anime and movie reviews, but did so under an alias, keeping the page entirely separate from his primary account. And yet, in spite of all of this careful anonymity he was recently called in by the personnel department, where they told him, “You put a conspicuous amount of effort into your hobbies. Should that really be taking up so much of your focus?” as if the two were somehow related.

Nakagawa tells the site that only a small number of trusted coworkers with similar interests knew about these harmless secondary accounts, and of those, most had already been moved to a subsidiary company as a result of restructuring. This means that not only did Nakagawa’s company criminalize him for having a hobby that he pursues entirely outside of working hours, they shattered an unspoken rule of personal privacy and fished around for his anonymous online accounts.

When Nakagawa returned to the office later in the week, a copy of one of his raving anime reviews was being passed around the office without his prior knowledge or consent. Without any friends remaining in the office to back him up, he found himself the subject of unsavory rumors and wary stares as a result. People began to regard him as “that 40-year-old weirdo bachelor with an anime fetish.” Inevitably, Nakagawa felt driven to change divisions within the company. It seemed as though he’d been purposefully pigeonholed, so he asked someone within the personnel division for clarification on his situation.

Basically, all of his suspicions were true.

It’s common knowledge that one shouldn’t complain about their work or their managers in a public forum. That’s just asking for trouble. Still, many feel safe acting as themselves behind a veil of internet anonymity. However, it’s apparently quite easy to find someone’s full list of online accounts by doing a simple web search of their email address, regardless of whether or not that person is using a pseudonym. It no longer matters if what one writes is labeled with the name of the user and the company at which they work, nor does it matter if the content of one’s posts is work-related or not! When some organizations feel the need to downsize, they’ll seek out every online outlet utilized by their workers and use any excuse to single someone out and set them up for expulsion. Nowhere is safe and nothing is sacred.

Scary, scary stuff…

Source: News Post Seven (Japanese)

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