Thanks to a feature that appeared on the front page of the Dec. 31 issue of the Asahi Shimbun, oidashi beya is the first topical neologism of 2013 if you don’t count “Abenomics.” It’s not clear if the term, which translates as “expulsion room,” was coined by the newspaper, but since then the blogosphere and social networks have picked up on it and the concept it describes, a holding area for full-time workers deemed unnecessary but who won’t quit. These employees are retained but given little or no meaningful work.

Other media had already covered the subject, but none struck a nerve the way the Asahi did, probably because they didn’t use the term “oidashi beya,” which seems to have captured the public’s imagination. The idea of exerting psychological pressure to get employees to leave is not new. In the past, companies passively ostracized redundant workers by moving them “next to the window” (madogiwa-zoku) or figuratively “tapping them on the shoulder” (kata-tataki), but these phrases were utilized in relation to people approaching retirement.

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