The Truth behind Japan’s Temporary Employees [Video]

How it feels like to be an internet cafe refugee

One filmmaker did a great job to give the world a brief peek of the situation of Japan’s salary men or temporary employees who often live in Internet cafes in order to save on rent.

The Net Café Refugees is a 10-minute documentary film about the dark side of Japan’s society and the lives of people living in those 24-hour Internet connected cubicles.

If you ever wondered whether Hollywood’s depictions of futuristic dystopian cities would ever happen in real life or not, you need not to look further than the dark, broadband-connected cubicles featured in Director Shiho Fukada’s film.

The Truth behind Japan’s Temporary Employees
Shiho Fukada

The film shows a man, a temporary employee, admitting that he lived in an Internet café for four months after he quit his job as a computer systems manager in a credit card company.

The documentary also features another temporary employee, a part-time construction worker, who lived in an internet cafe cubicle between his shifts — staring blankly at a computer screen, chain smoking.

The Internet café lifestyle of Japan’s temporary employees that is exposed in this film is very accurate.

One example is Internet café’s being called as “manga kissa,” (short term for manga “kissaten” or café in Japanese) because they serve as manga (also called comic book/graphic novels) reading spots.

This short film is part of Fukuda’s three film series that expose Japan’s darker side despite its cheerful, cute-obsessed culture that’s being popularized in the media today.

The other two films, Overworked to Suicide (regarding white collar workers) and Dumping Ground (regarding homeless elderly), are now available online.

The Truth behind Japan’s Temporary Employees

Japan’s Internet cafés have existed for over a decade. It was only during the mid 2000’s that customers started to use these café cubicles as a lodging space. These refugees are mostly temporary employees, whose salaries are not enough to rent an apartment.


Written By

Kaspars Upmanis

SaaS freak, CEO & Co-founder @cakehr