三年前，米基·米克(Miki Meek)在紐約時報Lens博客就該系列的第一部分「勞動之城的終結(End of Labor Town)」寫了文章。深田志穗在大阪釜崎區待了一個月。她說那個地方已經變成了「丟棄老年人的垃圾場，酗酒、貧苦、自殺及孤獨橫行。」
深田志穗是獨自一人前往釜崎區的，那裡居住着2.5萬曾經 以打零工為生的人。後來她獲得了艾麗西亞·帕特森基金會(Alicia Patterson Foundation)的一筆撥款，還從普利策中心(Pulitzer Center)取得資助，以繼續她的計劃。她說日本是一個從繁榮走向衰落的國度，而她認為大阪的故事只是這種複雜印象的其中一面。
所以就誕生了該系列的第二部分，審視日本上班族中的自殺及 抑鬱現象。這些上班族是像寺西彰一樣的人，他們害怕丟掉工作，就在京都高聳的寫字樓里超時工作。被拍攝的其中一名男子中原翔太（Syota Nakahara，音譯），在和她見面時已經飽受抑鬱之苦多年。他此前在作系統工程師，曾起訴他的公司不支付加班費。
抑鬱症，特別是自殺，或「過勞死」(karoshi)，在 日本文化中是不光彩的事。在20世紀90年代初，人們開始普遍使用過勞死一詞，當時日本出現經濟衰退，工人們開始花更多的時間來參與全球競爭的搏殺。在日 本，很多公司以前都採用了終身僱傭制，但是經濟衰退出現之後，它們也開始裁員了。
2011年，日本的非正式工人 ——這些人沒有帶福利的全職工作 ——在全部工人中所佔的比例從1990年的20％攀升到了大約35％。這個統計數字讓深田把眼光看向了那些賺錢太少、住不起公寓的臨時工。這些人到網吧里 尋求安身之所，被稱為「網吧難民」，他們夜裡租下網吧的包廂，清晨時便離開，因為網吧的費用晚上會打折。一名男子告訴深田，包廂足夠寬敞，他睡覺的時候不 需要彎着膝蓋。
酒井忠行(Tdayuki Sakai，音譯)是一名網吧包月者，他在女兒上大學後就辭掉了一家信用卡公司的工作。在做了20年他不喜歡的工作之後，他覺得到了離開的時候。 「結果他成了網吧難民，但他說自己在那裡快樂多了，」深田志穗說。
深田說，儘管日本1985年通過了《平等就業機會法》(Equal Employment Opportunity Law)，但高盛的報告顯示，在受過大學教育的女性中，只有大約三分之二有工作。
這種狀況讓一些年輕女性感到氣餒， 開始轉而去作女招待。 法律規定18歲以上的女性才能從事這種工作，但也有一些不足18歲的女性盛裝坐在酒吧里，等待男性顧客光臨。她們不是妓女，這種工作也只是調情，跟性交易 無關。深田說，很多女招待都希望能找到有錢的丈夫 。日本警察廳說，這樣的服務場所在日本至少有7萬家。
「我覺得，這種被隨意拋棄的感覺貫穿整個故事的始終，」深田志穗說， 「感覺到人們沒有得到一個勞動者應得的尊重，人們必須在極端條件下工作 —— 不外如此。」
你可在Twitter上關注 @ kerrimac、@ shiho_fukada 和 @ nytimesphoto，也可在Facebook上關注Lens博客。本文最初發表於2013年4月15日。
Japan’s Rootless and Restless Workers
April 16, 2013
A dark suit jacket hangs by a shaded window, beneath a portrait of a smiling, well-dressed executive.
The man is Akira Teranishi, a Japanese salaryman who killed himself 17 years ago, leaping from a building in Kyoto. It was Valentine’s Day.
“I gave him chocolate,” his wife, Emiko, told the photographer Shiho Fukada when they met at her home in Kyoto. “I asked him if he could take a day off.”
Ms. Fukada asked if she could see something Ms. Teranishi’s husband had left behind. The jacket had been his uniform — the clothing that transformed him from a man into a man with a job, one supporting his family. Like legions of others like him, the suit was his identity.
“The nameless worker, the empty jacket — that could be anybody,” Ms. Fukada said.
The picture (Slide 5) is from a series she has been working on since 2009, looking at the financial crisis and its effects on Japanese workers. A lonely mood suffuses the project, which examines depression and suicide among salarymen; temporary workers who live in Internet cafes; women working as hostesses; and a community of aging day laborers.
Ms. Fukada, who has been based in Beijing since 2008 and currently travels between New York and China, grew up in Japan. When she started reading about the financial crisis, she needed to see it for herself.
“This image of my country, I was really proud of how it was before,” she said. “And it is not the same anymore.”
Three years ago, Miki Meek wrote about Part 1, “End of Labor Town,” on Lens. Ms. Fukada spent a month in the Kamagasaki district of Osaka, an area she said had become “a dumping ground of old men, where alcoholism, poverty, suicide and loneliness prevail.”
Ms. Fukada went to Kamagasaki, home to about 25,000 former day laborers, on her own. She later received a grant from the Alicia Patterson Foundation and funding from the Pulitzer Center to continue her project. She said she thought that the Osaka story was only one side of a complex account of a country’s slide from prosperity.
“I wanted to explain why this community is here and what’s happening outside of this community,” she said.
And so the second part of the series was born, looking at suicide and depression among Japan’s salarymen — individuals, like Mr. Teranishi, logging far too many hours at work out of fear of losing their jobs in Tokyo’s high-rise office buildings. One man she photographed, Syota Nakahara, had been suffering from depression for years when they met. He had been working as a systems engineer and sued his company for unpaid overtime.
“I was psychologically on the edge,” he told her. “I could not register scenery around me. I couldn’t tell what day it was, nor which season. The only thing I could see was the entrance to the company and the computer on my desk.”
Mr. Nakahara, who is now on medication, has since become the chairman of a labor union in Osaka — a task he does during his spare time.
Depression, and especially suicide, or karoshi, are stigmatized in Japanese culture. At the beginning of the 1990s, the word karoshi came into common use as recession hit Japan and workers began putting in more time to battle global competition. Where many companies traditionally offered lifetime employment, they began laying off employees after the recession.
“The society hasn’t really adjusted to the reality yet,” Ms. Fukada said. “So people really, really want to hold onto their jobs.”
The size of Japan’s irregular work force — those without full-time jobs with benefits — climbed from about 20 percent of workers in 1990 to about 35 percent in 2011. The statistic led Ms. Fukada to examine temporary workers who make so little money that they cannot afford apartments. Instead, they seek shelter at Internet cafes. The so-called Internet cafe refugees rent private booths late at night and leave early in the morning, taking advantage of discounted night rates. One man told her that the booths are large enough that he doesn’t have to bend his knees when he sleeps.
Ms. Fukada stood outside several cafes, waiting for people entering with suitcases. That didn’t work. Ultimately, it took her two years to get access to one cafe, where a discounted monthly package goes for a little over $615 and soft jazz plays in the background.
Tdayuki Sakai, one renter, quit his job at a credit card company after his daughter entered college. After 20 years at a job he didn’t like, he decided it was time to leave. “He ended up at the Internet cafe, but he said he’s so much happier there,” Ms. Fukada said.
She asked him whether he would like to move into an apartment. “No,” he told her, “I just want to get out of Japan. I have nothing to lose and I have no hope for this country.”
One young woman there, only 18, moved to the cafe with her mother after losing their home in the earthquake.
“On top of not having a high school diploma,” Ms. Fukada said of the teenager, “she said she’s having a hard time because she’s a woman.”
Despite the Japanese Equal Employment Opportunity Law, which was passed in 1985, only about two-thirds of college-educated women are employed, according to a Goldman Sachs report, Ms. Fukada said.
Discouraged, some young women resort to working as hostesses. The women — who are legally required to be 18, although some are younger — dress up and sit at a bar, waiting for men. They are not prostitutes; there is no sex involved, only flirting. Many hope to find a rich husband, Ms. Fukada said. Japan’s national police agency said there were at least 70,000 such establishments in the country.
Ms. Fukada met a 24-year-old woman who said she planned to start lying about her age as soon as she turned 25 — too old, she thought, to be an eligible bachelorette.
“The feeling of being easily disposed of runs throughout the story, I think,” Ms. Fukada said. “The sense that people are not respected as a worker and people have to work in extreme conditions — it’s this or the other.”