While I was looking for a job back last year, I had one big problem: I had no idea how much people actually earn. Even if I asked people I knew from the university or encountered during my “internships”, or at jobhunting events, they’d just give evasive answers and refuse to tell.
I thought this was a Japanese thing, since back in Hungary I could hear people talking (shit) about their (shit) pays all the time. Then an Atlantic article made me realize that wasn’t the case. In America, it would seem, people are more formally threatened to keep their mouths shut, while I’m under the impression that in Japan it’s more of a social thing.
Just like the weird dual attitude of Japanese towards foreigners (looking down at and at the same time envying the gaijin), their secrecy about their wages seemed to be a mix of two fears. First, that their pay would count as low, thus they’d ashame themselves, and second, that if their pay was high, then saying it out loud would count as boasting, which doesn’t fit in well with the humility-centered Japanese social facade.
This meant that it took significant research to find out how much people were actually earning in different sectors and positions. Thing is, I don’t think this was a “foreigner issue” and it seems that (especially younger) Japanese in general are not aware of pay levels. Just a while back I was talking with a friend of mine and he mentioned how shocked he was when he found out how much his father was earning.
Luckily the anime industry is pretty open and also fluid: people discuss their pay without much hesitation and no one gets sneered at for switching companies. I can get a fairly good picture of where I am and where I can be in a few years. This way feels natural to me as well, which is pretty nice.