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Japan Word of the Day #46 – Burakku Kigyō (Black Company)


Today’s Word is: Burakku Kigyō (ブラック企業)

Burakku kigyō is a type of company that exploits employees in a way similar to sweatshop type employment in US. The literal translation of the term is “black company” or “black corporation.” While sweatshop problem mainly involves factory workers and blue collars, black company is usually a problem for office workers.

Black companies typically hire a large number of young people without requiring previous work experiences. They force their employees unreasonable overtime and amount of tasks without reward, benefits, or any promise of future prospects. In this sort of environment, an employee doesn’t gain skills that are specialized or portable enough to be useful in other companies, thus it does not help them build career experiences to switch to another job.

The term was coined in early 2000’s and has been around for a while in IT and recruitment industries. However, the major breakthrough of the term came in 2008, when a novel called “I’m Working at a Black Company and I Might Die Soon,” was published. (The original Japanese title is “ブラック会社に勤めてるんだが、もう俺は限界かもしれない”) In 2009, a live-action movie adaptation of the book was released. Burrakku kigyō was chosen as one of the top 10 buzzwords of the year in 2013.

Image source: Roudou Channeru