I like to think I’ve made the most of my time in Japan, having a wide range of experiences in different fields of work. I’ve worked in education, teaching eikaiwa (English conversation) and more advanced subjects like writing and TOEFL test preparation at English schools, and I’ve experienced the harried-but-fun life of an entrepreneur thanks to J-List. But in between those two carriers, I had a third, that of a Japanese public employee, working as “coordinator of international relations” at my local city office. My job was essentially to be the bilingual gaijin in the city office who could translate emails and letters, meet with foreigners who visited our city in an official capacity and spend four hours on Fridays at a help desk for foreign residents who needed help with some problem or another. In Japan, all national and prefectural employees who administer the official business of the government, as well as all policemen and firemen, are 公務員 koumu-in, civil servants who can arguably be considered a unique caste in Japanese society. In exchange for a guarantee of lifetime employment, they agree be transformed into a certain kind of bland individual who will faithfully manage the business of government without ever interjecting their own personality or ideas into the process. It was fun to have the experience but I think I’m more suited to running J-List somehow.
My brief career as a Japanese public employee was very educational.