A Deepening Divide

At the Job Cafe Osaka, unemployment is made to seem almost agreeable. The experimental job-placement office, partially owned and operated by the Osaka city government, is staffed by women in brightly colored uniforms who greet their downcast clients with a bracing, robotically cheerful "Konnichiwa!" Job seekers, most of them dressed in dark blue "recruit suits," help themselves to free coffee, juice or oolong tea while perusing binders of employment listings and speaking to job counselors or company recruiters. The song Don't Worry, Be Happy endlessly loops over the sound system.

All the free coffee and upbeat Muzak could...

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