In Japan, where company loyalty and lifetime employment are highly valued, individuals who switch jobs are often stigmatized as quitters, which is considered shameful in society.
To assist those who desire to leave their current employment, a growing number of “job-leaving agents,” known as “taishoku daiko” in Japanese, have emerged in recent years.
These services provide guidance and support to individuals seeking to resign from their positions.
TRK, a Tokyo-based company led by Yoshihito Hasegawa, offers the Guardian service, which advised approximately 13,000 individuals in 2021 on how to navigate the process of quitting their jobs with as little hassle as possible.
Hasegawa compares this process to a messy divorce, emphasizing the complexities and potential challenges involved in leaving one’s job in Japan.
In Japan, the cultural emphasis on company loyalty and lifetime employment can make it difficult for individuals to switch jobs without being stigmatized as quitters, a perception that carries a sense of shame.
To address this issue, a rising number of “job-leaving agents,” known as “taishoku daiko” in Japanese, have emerged in recent years.
These agents provide valuable guidance and support to individuals who wish to resign from their current jobs. One such company is TRK, based in Tokyo and led by Yoshihito Hasegawa.
Their Guardian service assisted around 13,000 individuals in 2021, offering advice on how to navigate the resignation process with minimal hassle.
Hasegawa aptly compares this process to a messy divorce, highlighting the intricacies and potential difficulties involved in leaving a job in Japan.
Interestingly, nearly half of the clients who utilize the Guardian service are women. Among them, some have experienced situations where they were promised certain pay or work hours, only to discover that these assurances were false after working for just a day or two.
For its services, Guardian charges 29,800 yen ($208), which covers a three-month membership in a union that represents the employee during the negotiation process. This process can quickly become delicate and awkward in Japan, where employer-employee relationships are often intricate.
Typically, Guardian’s clients have been employed by small to medium-sized businesses, which make up the majority of the Japanese workforce. However, there are cases where individuals working for major companies also seek assistance.
In many instances, bosses hold significant sway over operational matters and can be reluctant to allow an employee to leave, especially considering the ongoing labor shortage in Japan. This shortage means that many workplaces are already understaffed from the start.
In Japan, although the law guarantees individuals the right to resign from their jobs, some employers who adhere to traditional hierarchical structures struggle to accept the idea that an employee they have trained would choose to leave.
Those who find themselves in such battles to quit often describe their bosses as “fanatics,” “bullies,” or even “mini-Hitlers.”
The conformity and intense workaholic pressures ingrained in Japanese culture can be oppressive. Employees are hesitant to be viewed as troublemakers, are reluctant to question authority, and may fear potential harassment after resigning. Concerns about the opinions of their families and friends also weigh on their minds.
While many clients of Guardian prefer to remain anonymous, one young man, known online as Twichan, sought the service’s assistance after facing criticism for his sales performance, leading to severe depression and suicidal thoughts. With the support of Guardian, he was able to quit his job in just 45 minutes.
Taku Yamazaki, who sought the help of a different taishoku daiko, had been working for a subsidiary of a major IT vendor and anticipated a complicated and time-consuming quitting process due to his successful performance at the company.
Yamazaki expressed a sense of gratitude towards his former workplace, but he was eager to shift his mindset and move forward promptly. This desire for a fresh start reflects the mindset of many individuals seeking the services of taishoku daiko.
When people submit online forms to taishoku daiko, they receive an automated reply within minutes, assuring them that their request has been received.
A more personalized response is then promised within one working day. This swift acknowledgment demonstrates the efficiency and responsiveness of the taishoku daiko services in addressing the needs of those who seek their assistance.
Akiko Ozawa, a lawyer whose firm primarily represents companies but also advises individuals who wish to leave their jobs, acknowledges that it may be difficult for some people to comprehend the challenges associated with switching jobs in Japan.
She points out that switching jobs in Japan is a significant challenge that demands tremendous courage. Ozawa, who has authored a book on taishoku daiko, acknowledges that finding and training replacements in the country’s labor shortage can be challenging, leading some bosses to react with frustration and anger when an employee resigns.
As long as this Japanese mindset persists, the demand for Ozawa’s services will continue, she suggests. For her assistance, Ozawa charges 65,000 yen ($450). She believes that if someone is unhappy to the point of feeling unwell, taking control over their own life by making the choice to leave their job is a valid decision.
Ozawa’s perspective highlights the importance of recognizing one’s own well-being and the significance of taking charge of one’s life, even in a society where job loyalty and stability are highly valued.
In addition to Guardian, another quitting service called Albatross provides a unique service known as “MoMuri” or “can’t stand it anymore.” For a fee of 22,000 yen ($150), full-time workers can avail of this service, while part-time workers enjoy a reduced rate of 12,000 yen ($80).
According to Shinji Tanimoto, the founder of Albatross, workplace issues have always existed, but people are now realizing that they have the option to seek help online. He shares that many of their Mo
Niino explains that many of their clients come to them seeking help with toxic work environments, including cases of verbal or physical abuse from bosses or coworkers. Some clients even faced threats to their personal safety.
Exit Inc. offers a service called taishoku daiko, which refers to the act of helping individuals resign from their jobs. The process typically takes about 15 minutes once the resignation papers are prepared and sent to the employer.
With a fee of 20,000 yen ($140), Exit Inc. provides support and guidance to individuals who want to quit their jobs due to these difficult circumstances. Niino takes pride in starting this type of work and hopes to make a positive impact in helping people escape toxic work environments.
Niino further explains that many of their clients have experienced significant emotional distress and trauma due to their toxic work environments. The taishoku daiko service aims to provide them with a quick and efficient way to leave their jobs and escape the harmful situations they were facing.
Exit Inc. not only assists with the practical aspects of resigning, such as preparing resignation letters and submitting them to employers, but also offers emotional support and guidance throughout the process.
This includes helping clients understand their rights as employees and providing resources to ensure a smoother transition to their next job or career.
Niino believes that by offering this service, he is contributing to a healthier work culture in Japan and helping individuals reclaim their dignity and mental well-being. He hopes that the existence of taishoku daiko services will push employers to address and rectify toxic work environments, ultimately leading to better working conditions for everyone.