Having been living in Tokyo for 13 years and working here for 10 years, I had been planning for acquiring Japan’s permanent residency in the near future. But then comes the misfortunes. Recently, my 62-year-old mother, living with my 78-year-old father in Hong Kong, was diagnosed with late-stage cancer. My mother was temporarily discharged, and is now active and able to carry on most pre-disease activities. I have special and very strong affectionate bonds with my mother, and regard her life and happiness as almost all of the (if not the sole) reason for my life. I can’t live without my mother.

My mother strongly suggests that I continue to work in Japan. And to me, with the permanent residency just inches away, it is a difficult decision to make whether I should return to Hong Kong now or keep staying in Japan until the situation becomes even worse. I don’t want to have any regrets.

What makes the things worse still is that the current supervisor at the company (a giant publically-listed enterprise) is a vicious middle-aged man. My previous superior was nice but he committed suicide inside the company last year. My current supervisor has then been assigning me with jobs that completely mismatch my abilities and experiences.

He admits his faults and puts the full blame on me, calling me “useless,” “incapable” and “disqualified as a shakai-jin. (By the way, I had been highly valued by various previous bosses and colleagues in different workplaces.) Saying that I failed to “achieve a single output in the whole year,” he began to threaten me with a probable dismissal, regardless of the in-company labour union’s opinion that I could not be fired in such an arbitrary manner. The supervisor shows absolutely no sympathy for my mother’s situation, and even told me to resign if I don’t like it or have no confidence.

I’m now extremely tensed. Acquisition of Japan’s permanent residency has been my dream in many years. I feel so helpless, worried and distressed. I have even been thinking about self-destruction recently. I need useful hints that lead to an effective solution. Your practical advice will be highly appreciated. Thank you.


Dear Leung-san

Thank you for sending your email to this online counseling. I am sorry to make you wait a bit longer than you expect.

Now, first, your mother’s matter. May I offer some example in which you might think of yourself and your situation? Here there are a mother and her 8-year ld daughter (A-chan). A-chan wants to be more independent these days and begins to feel annoyed by her mother’s prohibition. Mother always says to A-chan, “You are too small to do it”. The issue here that I’d raise is that if mother’s own anxiety is too strong, she couldn’t evaluate objectively A-chan’s ability whether or not she really can do it. In other words, mother’s concern, seemingly love, could be her own obsession of anxiety which hangs over A-chan, resulting to deny A-chan’s reality where she may be able to do it. In your case, as mother could be you and most likely A-chan, be your mother.

I see your tight love relationship with your mother. But tight distance may cause a difficulty to look at each other. So, I’d suggest that you would accept your mother’s saying (reg. her present life) that she is doing OK as well as suggesting for you to stay in Japan. Whether or not you go back to Hong Kong could be decided after a while?

You seem to have a quite difficult situation in your work place. That must be hard. Did you talk to your boss about your dissatisfaction? It would be OK if and when you can be more assertive. As the labor union says to you, yes, you can’t be fired under such a circumstance. Your boss sounds like a manipulating “power harassment” ( in Japanese “pawahara”) type of person. Do you talk to him in Japanese? You might say nonchalantly to him, “Kore wa pawahara desuyo” How does this sound?

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