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  • SITYS: GOJ’s new “Points System” to attract “higher-skilled” NJ being reviewed due to dearth of applications, impossibly high hurdles

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on March 24th, 2013

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    Hi Blog.  We’ve talked about Japan’s “Points System” before on Debito.org, where I took a dim view of it as just another “revolving door” labor visa regime to bring people over, leech off their prime working lives, and then boot them back home without letting them settle and reap the rewards for contributing to Japanese society (cf. the “Trainees”, the “Nikkei Returnees”, and the “foreign caregivers“, all of whom I have written about for the Japan Times).

    Well, now, in yet another episode of SITYS (“See I Told You So”), Asahi reports the “Points System” is going through similar “revisions” as the visa scams above due to a dearth of applications.  As I thought would happen — the PS’s qualifying hurdles are simply too high.

    Even if one assumes good faith in Japan’s policymakers (some of whom do see the slow-motion demographic disaster in progress due to crushing public debt unsupportable by a society that is shrinking and aging) who might want to treat “foreign laborers” as people, Japan’s bureaucrats are so paranoid about NJ somehow “abusing” the system that they make it practically impossible for anyone to ever “use” the system to their benefit.  Again, the GOJ keep wanting “workers” and discover to their surprise later that they imported “people”, with livelihood needs beyond mere work hours converted into “the privilege of living in Japan”.

    These policy failures will keep happening again and again until NJ are treated as “people”, and given a fair chance by the GOJ at becoming “Japanese” (with transfers of political, economic, and social power — and that includes input at the policymaking stage too).  But I still don’t see that happening anytime soon.  Arudou Debito

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    Strict conditions hamper certification system for foreign skilled workers
    Asahi Shimbun AJW March 24, 2013, courtesy of JK
    By SEINOSUKE IWASAKI/ Staff Writer
    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201303240055

    A policy initiative designed to encourage highly skilled foreign professionals to come and stay in Japan is not working out as the Justice Ministry had envisioned.

    In fact, the point-based system has proved so unpopular that it is being reviewed only a year after it was introduced.

    The program covers the following fields: research, engineering and management. Points are awarded on the basis of a person’s experience and capabilities.

    An individual who receives a certain number of points can, for example, bring his or her parents to live in Japan or gain permission for a spouse to work, something that few foreign workers had been able to do until a year ago.

    According to the Justice Ministry, less than 1,000 will likely be certified in the initial year, compared with 2,000 that officials had expected.

    Foreign applicants have complained to immigration offices about the strict conditions, particularly one pertaining to income levels.

    Shao Huaiyu, a renewable energy researcher at Kyushu University, applied at the recommendation of school officials soon after the system was introduced last May.

    He was certified as highly competent after receiving 100 points out of a maximum 140 in the researcher division based on his doctor’s and patented inventions.

    Shao planned to ask his parents to come from China and help raise two daughters, aged 2 and under 1 year old.

    But his application was refused because of an additional condition that called for an annual income of 10 million yen ($106,000) or more.

    “It is almost impossible for a university researcher in his or her 30s to earn 10 million yen,” Shao said. “By the time I can earn that much, my children will have grown up.”

    The Justice Ministry plans to review the system. An Immigration Bureau official said the system has not been widely publicized overseas due to limited budgets.

    Junichi Goto, a professor of labor economics at Keio University, is opposed to the planned review, saying looser conditions could jeopardize a ban on unskilled laborers.

    He has also expressed concern that some foreigners could abuse the system by bringing their parents over simply to get advanced medical treatment under the nation’s universal health insurance system.

    A similar point system has been introduced in Canada, New Zealand and other countries eager to accept skilled immigrants.

    According to the Canadian Embassy, 90,000 to 110,000 engineers and their families enter the country each year.

    Even among industrialized countries, Japan is regarded as exercising very strict control over immigration.

    The Japanese program is intended to attract only those whose skills are needed in Japan, rather than increasing the number of foreign nationals working in this country by loosening the immigration control law.

    ENDS

    34 Responses to “SITYS: GOJ’s new “Points System” to attract “higher-skilled” NJ being reviewed due to dearth of applications, impossibly high hurdles”

    1. Peter Says:

      The reality is that someone with the qualifications needed to make use of the point system is simply going to the US or some other western country, where he/she will get a job with a much higher salary (according to qualifications and not seniority), better working conditions and a lower cost of living.

      Simply ask around what the entry-salaries are for someone with a masters-degree or phd, and whether Japanese companies are actually willing to hire such workers and pay them accordingly. (they are not).

    2. Welp Says:

      Bureaucrats completely out of touch with reality, who would have thought?

    3. Al Says:

      Even if Japan relaxes the criteria, it still has to compete with the likes of Canada, US, NZ and Australia – countries which have many advantages over Japan in this regard.

    4. John (Yokohama) Says:

      On a somewhat related note…

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/03/26/national/only-30-foreigners-pass-nursing-exam-despite-extra-help/#.UVFLv7-bL5Y

      “Only 30 foreigners pass nursing exam despite extra help
      KYODO
      MAR 26, 2013

      The health ministry said Monday that 30 nurse candidates from the Philippines and Indonesia passed the qualification test in February needed to be nurses in Japan.

      Their success represents a passing rate of 9.6 percent for foreigners, down from 11.3 percent the previous year. The overall pass rate was 88.8 percent.

      This dip in this year’s rate came despite efforts by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to make it easier for foreign applicants to succeed. This included giving foreigners 30 percent more time to complete the test than their Japanese counterparts, and the complimentary transliteration of kanji into hiragana, which eliminates the need to memorize the characters in the first place.

      The applicants who passed came to Japan between 2009 and 2011 to take advantage of bilateral free-trade accords that provide the opportunity to work as nurses and care workers in Japan, if they can overcome the language barrier within a certain time.

      The ministry said Monday that it will launch a measure in April to persuade nursing care facilities to hire care worker candidates from the two countries.

      While certified care workers at nursing care facilities are paid with nursing care money provided to them by local governments, the facilities must pay any foreign candidates accepted as trainees from their own funds.

      To ease that burden, the ministry will allow the facilities to apply for nursing care rewards for trainees who have stayed in Japan for six months or longer or achieved some fluency in Japanese since their arrival.

      Japan began accepting care worker candidates from Indonesia in 2008. It accepted 104 in 2008, and a combined 379 Indonesians and Filipinos in 2009. Since 2010, however, the annual tally has remained below 150.”

    5. baudrillard Says:

      Japan only really has the “Japan fetish” card to play to compete with the above countries.

      Thus, “Do you like Japan?” being a key question.

    6. baudrillard Says:

      Ah. He wants too much.

      “But his application was refused because of an additional condition that called for an annual income of 10 million yen ($106,000) or more.

      “It is almost impossible for a university researcher in his or her 30s to earn 10 million yen,” Shao said. “By the time I can earn that much, my children will have grown up.”

      I can imagine the mindset here; Those pesky Chinese, who do they think they are wanting that kind of money? Lets target a poorer country that “likes” Japan. Lets see, Philippines? Ah no, recently they all go elsewhere, even the nurses. Hmmm, Vietnam or Indonesia maybe….

    7. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Canada takes in one year as many immigrants as Japan will take in 90 years at it’s current progress! What better an illustration of Japanese planers disconnect from reality is needed?

      Canada is a ‘BRIC’ county. It has an expectation of a prosperous future, and even though it doesn’t need immigration right now, people are falling over themselves to go, and Canada is welcoming them.
      Contrast with Japan; Moribund and suffocating. Teetering on the edge of demographic and economic cliffs. Almost nobody wants to come, and those that do are eyed as as a threat, and shunned.

    8. snowman Says:

      Thanks for this Debito.
      Had to laugh.Why would these highly skilled NJ choose Japan?? There’s no attraction. Receive a fingerprinting criminal welcome at the airport. Untold hassle finding somewhere decent to live. All for a crappy unstable 1 year contract on a modest salary. Dream on policymakers.

    9. Loverilakkuma Says:

      No government’s policy will ever be promising unless GOJ is able to find the fundamental problem, which lies in their cultural mindset (i.e., Japan is a homogenous country; NJ cannot speak Japanese language and understand culture). And this policy is about merit-based system on labor market (a.k.a. outsourcing), and thus involves the risks of human rights abuse. If I were an attorney, I would put this phony points system on my watch list, and urge NJ visitors to stay away and go find work opportunity in any other country which upholds anti-racial/anti-labor discrimination law.

    10. Baudrillard Says:

      Like I said, Japan mainly attracts teens or fetishists interested in anime/cosplay, “relationships” with “geisha”/hosts respectively.

      Japan is good at attracting these through its puerile propaganda, a la Aso Taro and his manga as export mantra.

      Japan is clearly not as good at attracting anyone else or older, more experienced expats.

      Japan is a youth cult anyway,(they were calling me ojisan when I was 26!), there is a huge disconnect between what Japan needs (skilled execs, workers) and what Japan wants (starry eyed J-fanboys and girls who will work for peanuts to feed their identity fetish, attracted by the bright lights of Harajuku).

    11. giantpanda Says:

      The concern that “some foreigners may abuse the system to get advanced healthcare for their parents” is laughable. Honestly. Just the cost of the monthly health insurance premium in Japan would buy you the best medical care that China has to offer. The opposite situation – i.e. Japanese going on “medical tourism” to get their expensive ailments treated overseas at a fraction of the cost – is much more likely to be the case.

    12. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Baudrillard #10

      I have identified another type of NJ in Japan, but I don’t know if they are attracted to Japan, or ‘made’ by the circumstances they find themselves in upon coming to Japan; the ‘Walter Mitty’ NJ.

      I am sure you have met the type, they have a pre-Japan ‘backstory’ that includes (typically) having done (at least one!) really special job, or having some special skills (was a DJ, or a film director/producer, a fashion photographer), or knowing an endless list of ‘famous’ people, yet they are working in an eikaiwa until their ‘business takes off’, or some such. It’s a kind of development of Charisma Man, I think.

      What surprises me is how few ever get called out by the Japanese (or rather, how easily the Japanese are impressed). I think Debito brought this up in his ‘Blowing Your Own Horn’ JBC; that most Japanese just smile and say ‘wow’, but they are thinking ‘this is a load of BS’.

      Anyhow, the relevancy is that I think a lot of Walter Mittys get addicted to this reaction (approval) from the Japanese, and get lost in a fantasy of their own, that is strong enough to match the ‘dreamy day’ fantasy.

      What do you think?

    13. Mumei Says:

      I just left a comment in the original post, but this 2012 point system is nothing to get too excited about. There are at least two large problems that may not be apparent at first:
      1) The five year wait for PR begins AFTER you qualify and switch to the special visa. Your wait time is reset. Not good for people already here for 5+ years.
      2) The visa is classified as a type of 特別活動. If you switch jobs, the job will need to be reviewed by immigrations to verify that it is allowed by the visa conditions. (This is not the case for 人文 or 技術 visas.) Potentially less freedom to move around with the government constantly looking over your shoulder.

    14. Peter no.2 Says:

      @Jim – of course i am biased because i am canadian, but Canada has a lot going for it! The gov’t realizes the need for immigration so they support it, for the most part – PM Harper may have other ideas though.

      But it has become a contentious issue over the past few years, i.e politicians going for the foreign vote and thinking they are going to impose stricter guidelines. That being said, if you can get in, Canada is a wonderful place to raise a family. Walk down the street and no one will stop and point at you unless you are wearing a naked man on your head. Until my wife mentions she is Japanese, everyone assumes she is Canadian. A far cry from Japan where everyone knows you aren’t Japanese..

      But I digress, it’s pretty clear this points system was doomed from the start and the restrictions too high to have any meaningful impact. And it’s been already commented, given the choice, most people looking for a higher salary probably won’t be coming to Japan, and for certainly not be treated with equality

    15. Bayfield Says:

      Another thing I think needs to be counted into statistics is the number of people who get accepted and leave Japan. Some people do get stuck in Japan though, but those who are flexible will likely leave after that honeymoon phase.

      Japan not only makes it tough for NJ to get into Japan, but makes it tough for NJ in Japan. After the uphill battle to get through immigration, you then have to fight another uphill battle in society to get residence and work. Along the journey you will also deal with discouragement from the Japanese to stay in Japan.
      Once locals find out you are not a tourist, their attitude changes. Also, everywhere you go, there is anti-gaijin propaganda, it can’t be avoided. Japan is one of those places where at times one would wish they were illiterate because of how frequent xenophobia is in the media.

      It is particularly difficult to “keep at it” and “do your best” when you are being discouraged to do so. Barriers are set up for the purpose of not letting NJ through. Once the Japanese realize that NJ are getting through their high barriers, they will set that bar higher or making your day-to-day grind more of a hassle.

      Also depending on one’s personality, the rampant anti-NJ propaganda can be a de-motivator as well to varying degrees. Being reminded that you are trash every-time you access j-media isn’t something everyone can put up with. Just picking up that morning newspaper at your door, the magazine at the store or flipping through TV channels can ruin your day. NJ who start off with being a “Japan-fan” will think differently and lose that affinity feel with Japan, regret their decision of moving to Japan and advising others about the real Japan. This is of course assuming they don’t become apologists or remain as apologists if they already were.

      At the end of the day, the only way to get accepted as “one of them” is if you are Japanese. And even if an immigrant is Japanese, he/she must also be the type of Japanese that the GOJ wants or risk being labeled as Chinese or Korean upon socialization with locals.

    16. Karjh12 Says:

      A significant part of the issue is Japan not recognizing dual citizenship.
      You are either one of us or one of them mentality

    17. c_mac Says:

      This is an absolute nightmare for the GOJ; a real catch 22. I think politicians (and people in general) are aware of the demographic time bomb ticking away and realise immigration is a viable option that could alleviate economic and social pressures downs the road. Yet the same people are loathed to have to not only accept NJ into Japan but then afford them the same rights and privileges held by the average Japanese. As such the Justice Ministry half-heartedly puts (extremely stringent) policy in place hoping to lure educated professionals(with a high income) to Japan with the promise of . . . what exactly? Long hours for crappy wages, shoe box living and second-class citizenship?

      “A policy initiative designed to encourage highly skilled foreign professionals to come and stay in Japan is not working out as the Justice Ministry had envisioned.”

      What did they envision? That immigrants would be clamoring for a chance to live and work in the modern paradise that is Japan? Not only is this a failure in policy but it once again exposes the disconnect between how Japanese view the outside world and the reality of things. GOJ officials are left scratching their heads as to why educated, financially well off professionals are not flocking to Japan with all that it has to offer. The reality is that when life in Japan for an immigrant is stacked up against other more welcoming countries there is no comparison.

    18. Baudrillard Says:

      @Jim #12

      What do I think?

      It sounds like me! Well, except that I didnt have much of a back story pre-Japan, but I knew I could actually build a niche in Japan, so that was OK for a while.The Eikaiwa route was of course for the visa.

      Did it rival Dreamy Day syndrome? Only if you are having some success, or there is some real hope. If you are not, and end up trapped in the Eikaiwa,you will become frustrated and angry at the “unfairness” of it all, embittered (e.g. that DJ/whatever is worse than me but because he is Japanese he gets on, he is accepted in the circle, I am an outsider even though I speak Japanese- i.e. it is not how good you are, it is purely corruption and who you know, or how much crap you are prepared to do for free for years in the hope that you will finally be accepted and given a real chance). So then when 3/11 or some other disaster hits, you will decide Japan is not paying off, and leave.

      I do not think Japanese will give an ego boost to an eikaiwa teacher who tells them they are a film maker etc unless she/he has concrete proof that this is the case. The Japanese, like many postmodern populations, need to be shown before they are impressed.

      Hence The Spectacle.

      The aboveis just a microcosm of the whole Japan work experience where we were told if we worked hard and learned Japanese we would progress in our careers, but these promises were rarely kept.

      So the relevance of this to the topic is…why bother? The effort and time you put in are not commensurate with the potential gains. It is often said that to achieve anything in Japan requires you being here for a decade.

      I emerged with some achievements but it was still largely a lost decade…of eikaiwa teaching on the side!

      The above may sound like sour grapes and although part of it is, the corruption/cronyism over merit aspect is definitely strong in Japan. Recall the case of how an airport, I think Kansai, was built. An American company with vast experience put in a tender, but the decision maker selected his relative’s construction company to build the airport, despite having no prior experience of airport building. The American company sued, but then the story faded from media attention (conveniently?). A good example of culture clash, if “Japanese culture” is defined as nepotistic, and American culture as litigation obsessed.

    19. Markus Says:

      At the risk that this is old news to you guys, here is an interesting interview with Jon Woronoff (video) from the 90s.
      http://mediaburn.org/video/the-90s-raw-japan-woronoff-igasaki/

      He shows very good insight into the real nature of the country and society, even back then most people pundits, like Ezra Vogel, were holding up Japan as a template for the West.

      I think it is saddening to see that in the perception of Japan in the West, opinions such as his have still very little traction, and Japan’s image as a “Western-style democracy” is still largely intact.

    20. Baudrillard Says:

      @ Jim #12 part 2 “I have identified another type of NJ in Japan, but I don’t know if they are attracted to Japan, or ‘made’ by the circumstances they find themselves in upon coming to Japan; the ‘Walter Mitty’ NJ.””

      This is just typically postmodern and many people do it unconsciously but especially in Japan. People choose how to identify, not a bad thing in themselves. Japanese people do it even more so, how many singers/models/sportsmen have you met when in fact all of them were working full time in an office?

      I partly admire them for refusing to be defined by their jobs and instead defining themselves by their hobbies/aspirations, but on the other hand as you say, it is confusing and at times dishonest.

    21. Baudrillard Says:

      Peter no 2. “most people looking for a higher salary probably won’t be coming to Japan, and for certainly not be treated with equality”

      Japan is really looking for cheaper labor or even the second tier of execs; this is just a continuation from the 80s mindset of that if you come to Japan, you could not make it in your own country.(source, Powers Working in Japan, 1990).

    22. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Baudrillard #18&20

      I think that you are right. I have met an astonishing number of models/DJ’s/pro-surfers in Japan. Who is left to work in the offices?!

    23. Eric C Says:

      Eric C: Some Concluding Comments

      Sorry, this might be a bit off-topic, but in a deep sense, I believe it’s squarely on-topic.

      Sure, the J government’s latest plan to attract more immigrants will fail. Why? Because neither they nor the Japanese people want immigrants. Certainly not in any long-term way and not with true legal rights. But, why quibble about the why’s and wherefore’s? Japan’s trajectory should be screamingly, blatantly clear by now. It’s headed down and headed down faster than most people realize. The only things they have going for them – and these things are nothing to sneeze at – are a generally unified people, a lack of religious strife that plagues the West, a lot of water, good farmland, a strong work ethic, etc. If China simply didn’t exist and I were of Japanese stock, I might actually be tempted to go there because things will get a lot worse in a lot of other places as peak oil, global warming and the ongoing financial crises play out.

      But, Japan is Japan. And that means it will be appallingly governed. It means it will never adopt the best practices from around the world. It means that it will become more and more isolated. It will become older, poorer and more conservative. And a damn sight uglier.

      As I’ve said, if you’re a foreigner, particularly with half-Japanese children, you should get out as soon as possible. And if you’re a young Japanese person with some talent and some balls, you should get out.

      I left about two years ago and every day my wife or I remark that we are happy to be out of that place. We often say that when we are reading the news from Japan or looking at our children.

      You may have noticed that I don’t post much anymore. The reason is that I’ve decided to mentally wash my hands of the place. Sure, I’ll be deeply involved with it for familial reasons for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t mean I have to give it much, if any, of my mental energy. If I see a falling rock, do I have to ponder what lies in its future? No, it’s going to hit the ground, and my thoughts on the matter won’t make a whit of difference.

      I’ve decided to try to look at Japan as any other “exotic” country I visit from time to time. If I go to Bhutan, I may ponder deeply on the culture and politics of the place, but I mostly likely won’t get too worked up about trying to change it. I want to feel the same way about Japan. That will allow me to enjoy the pleasant aspects and ignore most of the unpleasant aspects. Oh, it will be a cold day in hell when I let a policeman or immigration officer try to tread on my rights, but other than that, I’ll just enjoy the sushi.

      The way I see it, Japan is like a grumpy old geezer living way at the end of my road. He certainly isn’t going to change because I try to convince him to. He’s going to be that same grumpy old git forever. The smartest thing I can do is not tangle with him and not let him get me down.

      I don’t mean this as defeatist or fatalist. I’m just trying to explain that I’ve come to a partial accommodation with Japan. Mostly – and this is going to sound arrogant – because I have better things to think about. And I’d rather spend my time thinking about positive things and things I might actually be able to influence for the better.

      So, to Japan, I say thank you to the people who did so much for me, thank you to the country for allowing me to make a life there, and best of luck to you. And to my fellow NJs who still live there, I say, if you must stay, make the best of it: there’s a lot of good to be found there. But, never assume that you cannot leave.

      So, Eric C is signing off for now. Good luck JDG with the next stage. Thanks to everyone for the stimulating discussion. And thanks, most of all, to Debito, for providing this forum and fighting the good fight.

      – Welcome. And godspeed to you for a happy and satisfying life.

    24. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Eric C #23

      Thank you for your kind words and stimulating exchanges, which have certainly helped inform my decisions. I would welcome any crossing of the paths with you in future. We met on the square, and parted on the level. Good luck to you Eric!

    25. DeBourca Says:

      Best of luck Eric. FWIW, I have been out almost a year now and have gone through similar things: I realised that if I didn’t leave Japan I would grow to hate the place and it wouldn’t be any good for me or my family. After a period of decompression, I now enjoy the pleasant things and memories (sushi, onsen etc)and can forget about all the crap: It’s Japan’s problem, not mine anymore.

    26. giantpanda Says:

      @Eric C, @DeBourca, I join you. After giving close to a 1/3rd of my life to Japan, I’ve drawn a line under that period in my life. I achieved nearly everything I could – fluent Japanese, PR, a fantastic salary (by Japanese standards), professional recognition, and I even became a property owner, but it was not enough to compensate for the never-ending “othering”, and the growing realisation that my kids would never really belong. I chose to give them a better life elsewhere in the world. I called bluff on the big lie that if only my Japanese was good enough, or if only I understood the culture well enough, I would truly start to belong.

      After quitting my job recently, the reaction from my Japanese colleagues was close to hysterical – at first they did not believe me, then they reminded me of the promotion I would almost certainly get within the next year, and all the investment the company had put into “training” me, then I was berated for putting my colleagues under pressure to do all the work I am leaving behind. It pains me, because I care for some of these people very much, but it’s also a sign of the cultural arrogance noted by so many on this site, where a better alternative to Japan, and giving one’s entire life and soul to a Japanese company, literally cannot be imagined.

    27. Markus Says:

      Good luck, Eric. I think I’ll do the same once I leave this mess at the end of this year. Yet, I think it is not just about ignoring the grumpy old man. We who have seen the real Japan should do our best to spread the word in Western world about what is really going on in this country. A lot of people who may be thinking to come to live here based on the false image of Japan would profit from access to inside information that isn’t paid for by the J-Gov, Nippon Foundation, or other propaganda institutions.
      The best way to fight discriminiation in Japan is to never come here – let the ship sink with only Japanese on board. No offense to debito – as long as there are still foreigners in Japan, he and his work is very much needed.

    28. Eric C Says:

      Thank you for the kind wishes, all.

      Just a short addendum: There were two motivations that outranked all others in me wanting to simply mentally wash my hands of Japan: One was a desire to become more positive in general (even about Japan, if necessary: after all, my children are part Japanese). And the other was to spend a little less time on the dreadful devices that have come to rule our lives, pecking away like mindless chickens (call them computers, smart phones, tablets, what have you).

      I found myself explaining to a dinner companion why I left Japan last night and I bookended my comments by saying, “Mind you, there’s a lot I like about the place and, perhaps more importantly, there’s a lot that makes it incredibly fascinating and important.”

      I realize now that this is a useful attitude to take regarding Japan, but also with many other people and things in life. I’d be the last to say, “Let’s all be politically passive and just accept any crap that comes our way,” but knowing what can and can’t be changed, and enjoying things and people who what and who they are has a lot of merit.

      Life is short. We should be glad that humanity morphed into the strange cultural orchid that it did on the Japanese archipelago. We’d all be poorer without it.

      Best of luck to you all.

      I’ll end with a quote from the recently and tragically departed Uncle Monty: “Come on lads, let’s get home, the sky’s beginning to bruise, night must fall and we shall be forced to camp.”

    29. Mike2 Says:

      “After quitting my job recently, the reaction from my Japanese colleagues was close to hysterical ”

      dont worry about it, we all get the “you cant leave Japan” response or attitude once you get ready to leave. I guess it comes from the hunker down mentality that many have here. Its weird, they always complain, call the police on you, berate you, then when you go to leave, they tell you no. I think your making a wise choice. All the money in the world couldnt bring me back to some of the places I have worked at. Japan needs to take a long hard look at itself and the outside world, I tell you man, the place is just too weird sometimes.

    30. Karjh12 Says:

      Eric C#28

      Your most important observation and consideration is your children ,their education and the society in which they are going to grow up,become mature,analytical thinkers and open to divergent opinions without prejudice or petulance.

      I don’t see my son as part Japanese or part Australian…he is a human being finding his way in the world and thinking for himself.

      Perhaps one day children like yours and mine will be able to make a positive generational change in Japan if they make that choice…(but then again there is the Brazilian example.)

      Debito: Maybe or maybe not for publication but I have been following this blog for a while now
      and make the occasional cynical and often irreverent comment but as someone who went through Japan in the late ’80s and early 90’s in the “wonder era” ,after reading comments on this site
      I too feel that my decision to to leave Japan way back then was the right one.
      After all I have a Masters Degree in Japanese language and history and post graduate
      qualifications in interpreting and translating .Now I have retained and work in aged care finding it very satisfying but I doubt that I would be recognized up there.

      I will continue to follow this excellent site and send the occasional observation from afar.

    31. Eric C Says:

      One last question:

      At least twice on this site, someone quoted a very interesting passage. I cannot remember the exact wording and extensive Googling didn’t help me, but it was something like this: It was a thought exercise that asked the question: What if Germany had behaved as Japan did in the post-war period? What if all the mid-level members of the Nazi party and German army moved smoothly into political and managerial positions in the corporate world? What if all the the atrocities that Germany had committed were simply denied by the government and, instead, the country spent vast amounts of mental energy simply bemoaning their victim status due to the bombing of Dresden etc? What if al the companies that played roles in the Holocaust quickly transitioned to world industrial leaders. It went on in that vein.

      Can anyone get me that quote and/or the source? I found it to be incredibly useful in explaining to people the situation in Japan.

    32. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Eric C #31

      Here’s the quote;

      “…can you not imagine a Europe in which Germany was like Japan? A “pacifist” Germany defended by America, occupied by America, overseen by America? A Germany with “self defense” forces led by officers who wrote essays on the glories of the Third Reich? A Germany which wrote a few diplomatic communiques apologizing for the holocaust, but whose schoolchildren and general citizenry were taught and believed that the Third Reich was intended to help Europe, and was crushed by greater, more foreign empires. A Germany whose only commemorations of WW2 were to shed tears for Dresden and the fallen veterans of the SS? Imagine a Germany with no Nuremburg, where Goebbels and Goring were never prosecuted. Indeed where they became CEOs of BASF and BMW? And a Germany where Herr Hitler’s son still lorded over the Alps as a figurehead Kaiser? A Germany which was taught and believed that Dachau and Auschwitz were nothing?…”

    33. Eric C Says:

      Okay, found it myself.

      Gotta hand it to JDG, for he was the one who referenced it on this site. The source was the discussion section of the Economist article here: http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2012/09/japan-chinese-history

      Here’s the passage:

      “The primary reason Europe is internally harmonious (present difficulties excepted) is that the recent outburst of virulent and aggressive imperialism (WW2) was comprehensively addressed and expunged AT ITS SOURCE. That source is NOT some postwar minister or ministry in Bonn or Berlin. It is the essence of the German State and the hearts and souls of the German people. It is literally illegal for a German to deny the holocaust, which places the lessons of history even higher among German values than freedom of expression. THIS is why no Pole, Frenchman, or Jew frets for a moment about German militarism past, present or future. This is why Europe enjoys a trust dividend, a prosperity dividend, and a peace dividend.

      Now, can you not imagine a Europe in which Germany was like Japan? A “pacifist” Germany defended by America, occupied by America, overseen by America? A Germany with “self defense” forces led by officers who wrote essays on the glories of the Third Reich? A Germany which wrote a few diplomatic communiques apologizing for the holocaust, but whose schoolchildren and general citizenry were taught and believed that the Third Reich was intended to help Europe, and was crushed by greater, more foreign empires. A Germany whose only commemorations of WW2 were to shed tears for Dresden and the fallen veterans of the SS? Imagine a Germany with no Nuremburg, where Goebbels and Goring were never prosecuted. Indeed where they became CEOs of BASF and BMW? And a Germany where Herr Hitler’s son still lorded over the Alps as a figurehead Kaiser? A Germany which was taught and believed that Dachau and Auschwitz were nothing?”

      Thanks, JDG for bringing that one to the attention of this blog. I do indeed our paths cross in the future. I can imagine there’ll be a lot to talk about.

      Good luck to you all!

    34. Escapedo Says:

      I share the feelings of Eric C, DeBourca, and Giantpanda.

      I left (escaped?) Japan not too long ago. I quit a university job where J staff members harassed foreigners with impunity. Granted, that was not unique to this institution, but the irony of the situation seemed to be: The school made a big point of letting everyone know that harassment would not be tolerated. They had a list of people that you could get in touch with if you had a complaint. Every name on the list was a Japanese name. Not a promising sign. How would it look if every sexual harassment counselor at a school was a man? Perhaps they would not be perceived by women as having a sympathetic ear? In my situation, the only thing that I could do was take matters into my own hands. I confronted the bullies. They backed off. I encourage others to do the same, because I don’t think any school is going to help you out.

      Even after all of the harassment, the J staff could not believe that I would want to leave. When I was about to fill out the resignation paperwork, one of the faculty asked if I was absolutely sure that I wanted to go through with it. I was never so sure of anything in my life.
      The people in charge of the department complained bitterly that they couldn’t get the “gaijin” to stay. Funny, that.

      I am still recovering from my life there. Like many, I went to Japan an admirer, and left a detractor.

      PS This stuff followed an incident at another school where I was sexually harassed by students. On more than one occasion I asked the harassers to stop; they wouldn’t. I went to the administration. Their response implied that if I pursued the matter, I would not be teaching classes there in the future. No record of the conversation, so could I really go to a lawyer about this thing? My word against theirs. Lesson learned: students are more important than a teacher because they pay the bills.

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