Mukanshin, also むかんしん 「無関心」 or in English “apathy” is something that i’m becoming more aware of every day here in Japan. I’m not saying everyone is guilty and that it only happens in Japan but it is quite apparent.

If you read my previous post you will know that my mother-in-law has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Stage 4. Pancreatic cancer has a 95%  fatality rate so yeah this story is not gonna have a happy end.

We knew something bad was going on with her a couple of weeks ago when she suddenly started to have extreme cramps in her side. We kept hoping it was nothing serious but the area she described was the pancreatic area and on the MRI they found something as big as 6 cm.

I told my superior a few weeks ago that this would be a difficult period for our family depending on the outcome of the tests. He was pretty supportive and told me that he would inform the top brass.

In the following days, I didn’t receive a.. single.. message..Not that I was waiting for it but I was kind of hoping? for a small: “hey are you ok?” message, but…. nothing.

Yesterday was my half-year review with the boss. I was extra nervous because on top of that it was also surgery day for my mother-in-law. The doctors said that if it would only be the tail-side of the pancreas she stood a good chance. So we had some hope left.

Unfortunately around 10 am in the morning, I received a message from the missus that the cancer had spread to other organs and that she only had a few months left. You somehow know the outcome would be bad, you hope it isn’t and still to get that message is such a big shock!

I received the message about an hour before my shachou mendan (interview) I told my superior about the message and couldn’t help it and burst into tears. He said that the boss knew about my situation and that I didn’t have to worry about anything, taking days off etc.

I really wanted to go to the hospital immediately to support the missus but I felt I had an obligation to at least do the interview. So I decided to do the interview first and then leave.

The interview took forty-five minutes. The boss didn’t… mention.. ANYTHING. The only topic that was discussed was, work! Work, work, work, work work. Even when I told him I if we could push one deadline because of my personal problems he didn’t mention a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Is it too much to ask for a tiny bit of sympathy? I’m not asking for a handout. Just a few small words or a hand on my shoulder.

I kind of feel that, since its not DIRECT family, but “just” my mother in law, people assume that it doesn’t hurt that much. Well, people be wrong. I live in a foreign country, my real mom lives 9000 km away. My mother-in-law is like a second mother to me. It hurts a lot.

I don’t care if you are a boss or the queen of Jupiter. You can have a little sympathy and STILL be a good, effective leader.




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