Kamikaze Truckers in Postwar Japan

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Joshua Hotaka RothMount Holyoke College, USA jroth@mtholyoke.edu

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Many Japanese workers in lower-paying positions were drawn to the growing trucking sector in the 1950s and 1960s, characterized by contingency and the thrill of risk and reward, in contrast to the stasis of lifetime employment guarantees emerging in other sectors of the economy. The gamified reward structure in trucking, however, led to a spike in traffic accidents and a backlash against “kamikaze trucks.” Only after regulations and enforcement limited the most dangerous kinds of incentives did meaningful forms of play emerge at work from the bottom up, rather than the stultified forms imposed by businesses from the top down.

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies


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