- civil servant / complaint / Ice Cream / Japanese convenience stores / MINISTOP / Soft Serve / ward office
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"A (civil servant) is eating ice cream in front of the MINISTOP (convenience store)"
Such was the nature of a complaint recently submitted to a Tokyo ward office, according to Twitter user 区役所の人 kuyakusho no hito (lit. "city ward person"), who regularly posts information and fields questions relating to city office duties, as well as their personal thoughts on their work.
The person who filed the complaint seemed to think this was wrong and wanted to do something about it.
On September 12th, kuyakusho no hito posted the following Tweet:
"Someone complained that: 'A (civil servant) is eating ice cream in front of the MINISTOP (convenience store' but that's because their Beni Imo sweet potato soft serve ice cream is only available for a limited time and it's delicious :) (it was during their lunch break)."
The Tweet, which sought to draw attention to the problem of frivolous and unreasonable complaints, was widely shared online, garnering over 74,200 likes and 14,000 retweets at the time of writing.
In an interview with IT Media Japan, kuyakusho no hito explained that the Tokyo ward staff member "guilty" of eating ice cream was his friend. In order to accommodate visitors who come during lunch hours, the office has a rotating lunch shift. That day, it was his friend's turn to work the lunch shift, so he was allowed to take his lunch one hour later from 1 PM. It would seem that the person who filed the complaint was of such a rigid mindset that they didn't imagine a ward office worker could be taking their lunch at any time other than from 12 to 1 pm, so they probably assumed they were slacking off and taking a break when they weren't supposed to.
Of course, civil servants are free to do what they want during their lunch break, and if they feel like eating ice cream in front of a convenience store, there's nothing wrong with it.
Unfortunately, as kuyakusho no hito explained in a separate Tweet, "complaints about trivial matters are really just a part of everyday life for us."
Why are there so many frivolous and unreasonable complaints in Japan?
A survey on "customer harassment" (harassment of employees by customers) compiled by the Japan Federation of National Service Employees in 2021 points to a combination of factors. Some of them, such as "prolonged stress and social disparity as a result of novel coronavirus pandemic" and "the increasing use of the Internet" are not specifically Japanese problems. However, factors such as "the spread of the customer-is-god mentality" and "the constant provision of services that exceed the value of the product, which has been exacerbated by deflation" are more specific to Japan.
Kuyakusho no hito's post elicited numerous reactions, both incredulous of the complaint and supportive of his post:
Kuyakusho no hito noted that his post has also been picked up by several media sources, bringing attention to the problem beyond the reach of Twitter.
If it can contribute in any way to a change in attitude resulting in fewer needless complaints, Japanese civil servants will be able to focus their energy on more important matters and have less stress at work.
Meanwhile, kuyakusho no hito wasted no time trying out the ice cream his friend enjoyed at MINISTOP:
"Thanks to all of you, my tweets have been seen by many😊 Thank you again for your support m(_ _)m
I thought it was a good opportunity so I also tried the Beni Imo sweet potato soft serve ice cream 🍦🍠
It's so good ✨"
Perhaps the person who filed the complaint should go and try it too since it could help them to chill out...