Part-Time Workers Terrorising Japan

Screenshot: ANNnewsCH

It keeps happening. Recently, there has been a rash of clips uploaded to Twitter and Instagram, showing part-timers licking or spitting out food intended for customers. In Japanese, this is called baito tero (バイトテロ) or “part-timer terrorism.”

FNN reports that most recently, it was an alien mask-wearing staff at the Ootoya restaurant chain was filmed at work as his covered his privates with a tray before exposing himself (above). The clip ended up on Twitter — and the evening news.

There are other clips of part-timers playing with food, raising hygiene concerns. For example, another clip showed an Ootoya part-timer sticking pudding it his mouth, letting it dribble out while in the kitchen.

Screenshot: ANNnewCH

According to Tokyo Reporter, earlier this month, a 7-Eleven part-timer was shown being fed oden (a type of hot pot) and then spitting it back into the pot, which was intended for customers. This was not the first part-timer to do this.

Screenshot: ANNnewsCH

Also this month, footage of a Family Mart staffer licking packaged food, including sticking bottle tops in his mouth, circulated online.

This clip shows yet another part-timer at a Big Echo karaoke chain taking chicken nuggets, rubbing them on the ground and then frying them.

The companies that own these restaurants and convenience stores have been apologizing for the actions shown in the clips, and part-time workers are getting fired. For some, however, things have gotten more serious.

A clip from earlier this month showed a part-time worker at Kura Sushi, the revolving sushi chain, toss fish into the trash and then take it out, appearing to prepare it for customers. As Itai News (via Sora News) reports, after the clip made national news, it caused stock prices to drop and resulted in a market value loss of $34 million. This might be why Kura Sushi began moving forward with legal and criminal action against the part-timers.

While there does appear to be a recent rash of social networking stupidity, it’s not new in Japan. Back in 2013, a Japanese word was coined to described idiotic Twitter users: bakattaa (バカッター), a wordplay for how Twitter is written in Japanese, but with baka meaning “dumb.”


    But, why? Is this like a Japanese-specific mentality like hikikimori syndrome?
    Like, is it the workers lashing out due to career frustration and social burdens?
    I need to know more!!!

      The thing that is lost in the "lol Japan is so weird and different" content is that it actually *isn't*. It's just like a lot of developed western countries: a bunch of conservative morons have managed to gain a huge amount of political power and the results for the average person have been the same as it has been in most other places. The issue is that the Japanese were already massively overworked because of their cultural pressures, and as a result you see people releasing the pressure by acting out like this, or just withdrawing completely because it's too hard to deal with and everything is hopeless.

        Spot on. The minimum wage in Japan is tragically low. Work hours are massive, and respect for employees is pracitcally non-existent for anyone below executive level. Unpaid overtime is rampant and expected if you want to keep your job and career advancement comes from a complex system of knowing the right people, enduring the degradation for the right amount of time, and appropriately degrading others below you as you start to move up. Working life is so needlessly regimented and combative.

        People just can't see a reason to give a fuck anymore and I don't blame them. This is a direct result of Japan wanting to be more American and pushing what they call Gaman culture (我慢) which translates to something like perseverance, or patience and endurance. Shit's bad? Just weather the storm and you'll be respected for your stoicism. What it's doing is driving people to breakdowns and suicide.

          Interesting. You sound like you speak from experience?

            For some reason that book I just wrote refused to post as a reply. Sorry.

        not sure if this has anything to do with Japan or cultural specific pressures at all. This kind of nonsense happens in fast food in Australia and I saw multiple coworkers in my teens get fired for similar antics.
        One got fired for intentionally leaving a testicle out so that the front staff could see it but not the customers.

          Yeah, though in this case a lot of the time it's grown adults doing it rather than idiot teenagers. But that's kind of my point - Japan isn't very different from anywhere else.

    Average hourly wage is around 8 Australian dollars. Standard shift can be anywhere from 10-12 hours minimum. Add to that strict conditions and lack of career progression in many of these positions, eventually some people are going to break and this is the result.

    Though this happens in every country let alone Japan but this would be my thinking.

    I lived in a city called Chiba, just outside Tokyo for six years. I was a public servant for the first three. Being foreign, I got a lot of special dispensations to not engage with the shittiest of cultural expectations, but most of my coworkers basically lived for their jobs.

    The government has been hijacked by weird right wingers from old samurai families who want to bring back the "pure" days where they didn't have to deal with filthy foreigners and the peasants knew their place. They also have a weird obsession with driving out Buddhism because it's not the true Japanese religion. So you get this weird duality in the people running the show where most of them really want to make a better, more inclusive society, but a handful of the most powerful want to turn the clock back to the 19th century, but can't openly say it too much.

      To clarify what I said before about wanting to be more American, the people who want to turn the clock back to a "pure" Japan are very selective with their ideological purity. They like the whole idea of stripping social programs, privatising things, forcing workers into subsistence wages, and just generally being into Reaganomics. That doesn't at all gel with the old country, but it helps them be lorded nobility under another name, so they're cool with it.

        It's actually super interesting that no one outside Japan really seems to appreciate that the current Japanese government are crazy right-wing imperialist nutjobs. Abe himself is a major member of the biggest ultranationalist movement - the kind of people that deny that Japanese war crimes took place and so on. His mother was the daughter of a former PM and member of Tojo's cabinet, who was responsible for running the puppet government in Manchuria and was imprisoned after WW2 for war crimes, before the US released him and backed him as PM to counter the rise of socialism in the country. He says this doesn't color his thinking but that's utter bullshit if you look at where he is politically.

      ...but a handful of the most powerful want to turn the clock back to the 19th century, but can't openly say it too much.

      So, basically the West, pre-Trump? Post-Trump, they say it openly.

        It's all couched in really different language with different cultural weighting, so it's hard to explain how it's different. By our standards they've been open about it since forever. I used to regularly see huge black buses parked outside shopping centres with stern men standing on top talking over loudspeaker about how foreign influence has destroyed their great nation. That's just an accepted part of the nationalist movement and they have strong ties to major business owners/old nobility/current political dynasties (they're all the same thing).

        There was this glacially slow movement toward being better international citizens and treating non-Japanese residents (including people born in Japan to immigrant parents) better. But every time there's a step forward, some idiot goes and visits Yasukuni Shrine in a blatant attempt to stir up nationalist debates and it all goes to shit.

        The laws surrounding non-Japanese people (again, this includes natives by birth) are shockingly marginalising. When I lived there I was required by law to carry an Alien Registration Card. That was the actual name. Any government official could ask me for it at any time for any reason and if I couldn't produce it, I was liable for prosecution.

          Did you ever get asked to produce it? Also sounds a lot like a green card from the US or a Visa here.

          Is the "Alien" part just literal translation though, like does it mean foreign.

            Not often, maybe two or three times a year. But I was a young, white guy living in a major metropolitan centre and I spoke Japanese reasonably well. Anyone who didn't look like me copped it a lot in some places.

            It's a semi-literal translation of 外国人登録証明書 gaikokujin tōroku shōmeisho - Literally it translates to "outsider registration certificate." So in English it was known as the Alien Registration Card. Everyone called it a gaikoku torokusho if they were in polite company and a Gaijin Card when we spoke to each other. I managed to keep one of mine after leaving. You're supposed to surrender it at the airport.

            The kanji for foreigner is literally 外(outside) 国(country) 人(person). Pronounced gai koku jin.

            We don't have a system where we need to keep a visa on us at all times. They don't even stamp your passport with your visa type anymore. My wife is a UK immigrant and her visa was kept on file. Scanning her passport with one of those readers at the airport would bring up her visa status onscreen.

              That's kind of just being behind the times though eh, like them using cheque books and the personal stamp everyone has to get to get paid, I might me remembering incorrectly but when I was there some people talked about needing a stamp.

                Yeah you need the stamp. It's called a hanko. A lot of places still won't take a signature and demand your hanko on things. It's bizarre because you can just order one from a shop. You could make your own with a potato, a scalpel, and enough patience. It makes forging really easy, but they just don't want to change.

                The gaijin card is gone, now. You have a residence card like anyone else. It's like here you can get an ID card that looks like a driver's license. But they can still just demand it from you at any time for any reason and the police use it as an intimidation tactic for Chinese, Korean, and African immigrants in big cities.

                I feel like I'm shitting on Japan. I lived there for 6 years because I loved it. But it has its problems just like any place.

              Technically you do in the US with a green card. ICE can theoretically ask you to present your card if you're within 100mi of the border. Which is about 2/3 of the populated parts of the United States. :|

              But the issue in Japan as I understand it isn't having to carry papers, it's the fact that as even a legal resident, you still really don't have any rights and everything is basically terrible there unless you're a citizen. Huge mixture of red tape and xenophobia.

                There's also two classes of citizen. Not in the citizenship law directly, but a whole lot of laws have little caveats for naturalised citizens or children of immigrants. From memory there were some things where you might be required to prove Japanese native family members for 3 generations. Owning property is hard. A friend of mine owned a bar and was forced to have a native investor to clear a while bunch of red tape. He basically paid a rich guy every month to be a name on a contract.

                  They're going to have to fix a lot of these sorts of systemic issues if they want to attract people there as skilled workers, which is something they say they want to do. But, like, of all the developed places in the world, Japan would be one of the *last* places I'd want to migrate to for work. And I say that as a massive weeb.

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