Recently the world got a look at the busy world of salarymen in Japan via a viral video, but there were also some slight reassurances that these company men didn’t necessarily hate their lives. We may have been a bit too optimistic, however, because a study done last year found that less than 30 percent of Japanese man can confidently say, “I am happy.” Well… that’s some statistic.

What’s behind the unhappiness factor among Japanese men? Bad marriages, work problems, convenience store diets? Accomplished Japanese author Reiko Yuyama gives her two yen on the root of the problem.


Reiko Yuyama has penned numerous books and her most recent is somewhat of a self-help book for Japanese men struggling to survive and become happy. There have been a lot of such books cropping up lately because of the supposed gloom hanging over the general male population.

The study we mentioned found that only 28.1 percent of men 20-60 years old could answer positively to the question, “Are you happy?” That leaves the other 72 percent floundering in some degree of unhappiness. The happiness figure is staggeringly low compared to other developed countries, so what’s the deal with Japanese men? If we were to sum up Yuyama’s thoughts in one phrase, it would be “fear of failure,” but we can break it down a little bit further.

Need to succeed at work. 

While the culture is changing slowly, most salarymen still expect to remain in the same company for the entirety of their careers, so, in order to rise in the ranks and get paid more, they have to fight for promotions. However, if they don’t succeed, they feel like failures and that affects their self-confidence, which affects their work, which pulls them further away from their goals. It’s a vicious cycle. In order to avoid this, men work long hours, a situation that creates a whole set of unhappiness-inducing consequences of its own, such as having no free time. So really, many men are just stuck in lousy situations.

The higher number of confident, independent women entering the workforce is not helping men’s pride either. Many men feel emasculated if women surpass them, adding another layer to the self-confidence issue.

Yuyama shares some wisdom from the comedy duo Ogi Yahagi, who say that “the ones working only to get the promotion aren’t the people who end up actually getting the promotions. The ones who take the time to try to enjoy their work are the ones that succeed.”

▼ No one wants to live here.


Many men are under the impression that if they don’t always succeed, women won’t like them. 

Yuyama tries to persuade men that this isn’t really the case. In fact, many women don’t find that kind of attitude charming at all. On the other hand, they don’t really like “herbivore men” either. Herbivore men are guys that are not very aggressive, quite passive and often lacking in confidence.

Recently, women have been looking for men that can be more straightforward to avoid miscommunication, men that can think for themselves and don’t feel too compelled to follow the crowd, yet, still have compassion for their loved ones.

It kind of sounds like the book also serves as a dating guide, but hey, they also say that single people tend to be less happy than those with a significant other, so it fits with the overall goal of the book.

We’re not sure these are the real reasons behind the low unhappiness rate, as there are undoubtedly many more factors, like marriage, divorce, and family issues, but we can understand how the fear of failure can lead to unhappiness. Still, it’s important to learn how to deal with setbacks. Ogi Yahagi made another wise comment that Yuyama likes to share, “In this world, even if you fail once, it doesn’t have to ruin your life.”

Source: Shupure News via Zaiga
Images: Pixabay (geralt, unsplash, PDpics)