In Japan, husbands often hand over their pay packets to their wives, who are the chief financial controllers for the household. Husbands then receive a fraction of their pay in the form of a monthly allowance, which has to cover costs such as cell phone charges, lunches and all-important networking and relations-building nomikai, or work drinking parties.

According to a survey by Shinsei Bank, the average office worker receives an allowance of 39,600 yen (US$398) a month. But when the average cost for attending a drinking party is 2,860 yen ($28.75), and one lunch is an average of 510 yen ($5.13) a day, many workers are now choosing to skip out on after work drinks. What they don’t realise is that this attempt to save some yen is actually jeopardising their careers.

Here are some comments from office workers in their 30s about their tight financial situations:

“Drinking parties are a waste of money, so even though I’m invited I don’t go. If you continually refuse, then they stop inviting you so it’s not a problem.”

Abenomics (the buzzword given to economic policies implemented by Shinzo Abe, the current prime minister of Japan) has nothing to do with my situation. I’m stuck because business is in a slump.”

“Nothing will improve for me because even if my income increases, my monthly allowance will stay the same.”

That’s quite a bleak outlook to say the least.


Some office workers receive a monthly allowance of 10, 000 yen ($100.50) or less. While we hope there’s a daily packed lunch included with this type of deal, it’s easy to understand why these employees skip out on drink get-togethers, with the common, firm belief that “drinking parties are a waste of money.”

Certainly, with such little spending money, it would be difficult to scrounge up any drinking money. It would help if the importance of nomi-nication (the relatively unbridled state of communication that flows under the influence of alcohol) were to become a thing of the past.


Management Consultant Shinsuke Suzuki, however, is certain that nomi-nication remains an important part of workplace relations, asserting that, “office workers who decline invitations to drinking parties can’t get promoted.”

“So far, as a consultant, I’ve been involved with 100 or more companies, and I’ve found we’re in an era where some employees aren’t realising the importance of nomi-nication. I think this is essentially why the office workers who do proactively attend drinking parties end up getting ahead more easily.”

Making the effort to attend drinking parties is often a simple way to show your commitment to work relationships.

“At the end of the day, impressions are everything when it comes to human relations in the workplace. To a large extent, if you’re not an employee with a specialised technical skill, then there’s nothing to really distinguish you from the other workers. So if you want to stand out and get promoted, attending drinking parties and building up an in-house network is much more effective than simply working your heart out at work.”


“Of course, there will be people who think, ‘A party organiser is such a low and useless level of work.  I should be assessed for my work performance at work’. But these people are missing the point.  If you show that you can organise a party, then you’re also showing that you can complete work projects and you have good people skills.”

But what about those on a tight monthly budget?

“Office workers who skimp on their drinking money are probably more likely to be fond of the term “cost performance”. But cost performance isn’t just about short-term goals. Of course I’m not saying that if you attend drinking parties you’ll definitely get promoted, but often it’s a handy shortcut. If you want to get promoted and earn more money, then really, it’s better cost performance in the long run to not skimp on your drinking money.”

It seems that if you want to get ahead in business on a tight budget, you might just have to skip lunch and go out drinking with the boss instead. Your body may not thank you for it but your future wallet will.

Sources: Nikkan Spa

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