The 2nd Great Gaijin Massacre in Japan’s education system, with 5-year contracts coming due in 2018 (2023 for uni profs).

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Hi Blog. This is an update to the Ninkisei Issue within Japan’s Academic Apartheid Education System, where foreign educators are given perpetual contracts. A contracted position may not sound bad to Western ears, but Japan’s tertiary education system (the second largest in the world) generally does not contract full-time Japanese educators. Since most full-time Japanese enjoy permanent tenure from day one of hiring, a contract becomes a term limit only for foreigners. Abuses of the system include “The Great Gaijin Massacre” of 1992-1994, where most foreign faculty above the age of 35 in National Universities (kokuritsu daigaku) found their contracts were not being renewed — in a successful attempt by the Ministry of Education to bring in younger, cheaper foreigners. Since these veteran teachers had not paid into overseas pension plans (and decades of Japanese pension payments are nonrefundable), they could not simply “go home”. They got stuck with part-time work with no benefits to pay house loans, fund kids’ college tuition, or fulfill pension plans.

According to Ivan Hall’s CARTELS OF THE MIND (WW Norton, 1998), there are more full-time foreign faculty with permanent tenure in one American university than in all of Japan! Not to mention a systemwide disdain (“academic apartheid”) towards foreign educators regardless of qualification, seeing them merely as cheap disposable labor. See the Blacklist of Japanese Universities, a list of institutions with breathtakingly unequal employment policies, at www.debito.org/blacklist.html

Now for the update.  Let’s see what happened to the survivors a quarter century on. The upshot is that their turn to be fired is now coming. According to labor union expert CF:

================================
“I have given it a nickname – the “2018 Cliff” If you have been working from (April) 2013 continually on renewable contracts, then (March) 2018 will be 5 years of employment, therefore on April 1 2018, if you demand permanent employment, the company must keep you on as permanent – until retirement (albeit on the pre-2018 conditions) from April 2019. To avoid this, companies will be dumping staff before the end of March 2018 to avoid the transfer to permanent status (無期転換). For better or worse, universities and research facilities deadline is 2023, so employees have an extra 5 years’ grace. The Cliff is coming, and many will be pushed off.
================================

COMMENT: So this is what NJ who persevered and contributed the bulk of their working lives to Japanese society, get at the end: An unceremonious dumping onto the job market, with no new place to go, and skills that will not easily transfer to their country of origin. And often before their MINIMUM 25 years (yes!) of required Japan-pension contributions are fulfilled.

People seeking to make a life in Japan: Beware! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

What follows is a discussion that transpired on a labor-rights listserv I subscribe to. Posts are used and redacted with permission:

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

Date: April 4, 2016
From: AB

Now going on three years, I was forced to resign in protest from a ’tenured’ position as an Associate Professor at [Honey Badger Japan] Jr. College. Going on 32 years, over half my life, living continuously in Japan – most of which was spent running from college to college as a hijokin adjunct, a graduate degree in T.E.S.O.L., research and publications, community out-reach work and international volunteer activities … phht … all gone.

How did HB Jr. College. do it? Or more importantly for fellow readers of this listserv, Easy. Here’s how it went down in my case.

Even after 11 years as a tenured full time member of the faculty, my department (only 8 full-timers at most) pretty much excluded me from any decision making processes at the required weekly meetings — and unlike my ethnic Japanese colleagues behavior towards each other, presumed to have the right to micro-manage my classes down to what language I should use in the classroom or in open campus activities, what materials are too easy, too difficult, or too unconventional for ‘my’ classes, and what pedagogic approaches I should use. A colleague (same age, became full-time when I did) opined that even on my weekends, I should first get departmental permission to use my English for volunteer activities … even in support of other departments at HBJC. I had no idea what they did on their weekends, could have been pachinko or Kabukicho for all I knew.

After some years of just shucking and jiving while bearing it all, I finally complained to the Gakucho (Dean), who reassured me that I was hired under the same conditions, rights, and obligations as ethnic Japanese members of the kyoujukai. Of course, how could he have said anything other?

I reported this back to my gakka’s shunin (Head of Department) who said:

1 – The current Dean of the school is wrong.
2 – I was hired while under the administration of a previous Dean with different policies, and those unstated policies were still in effect.
3 – The Department will not include volunteer activities in its curricula this year, so I am forbidden to use my office or resources for community outreach activities with the local city government (I was on the board of directors of XXXXX City government’s Kokusai Koryu Kyoukai) and other volunteer activities … four trips (at my own expense) to [an impoverished Asian country] with students from my own school as well as students from other Tokyo colleges, accompanying my students to a local kindergarten to teach English … as well as XXXXX in-house high school, working with Soup no Kai supporting the homeless in Shinjuku, collaborating with an NGO supporting the severely handicapped, and so on. Things that I thought would have been expected for promotion in U.S. universities were expressly forbidden by two successive department chairmen.

I reported the Department Chairman’s opinion to the Dean, particularly comment 3 which seemed contradictory to the school’s raison d’être as stated on their glossy homepage. The Dean disagreed with the department opinion, and once again, reassured me that I am an equal among equals, and it is up to me to just ‘try harder’ to communicate with my colleagues.

I requested a meeting between the Dean and my Department Chairman to decide my status … whatever that might be … along with its attendant rights and obligations. No such meeting was forthcoming, and neither did either indicate any willingness to discuss, much less settle, the issue.

Informed by the Gakubucho (Dean of the Jr. College and also a member of my department) that I was entitled and eligible to take my one year research sabbatical, I parlayed my volunteer activities in [the impoverished Asian country] with [a local institute] to serve as my sponsor, I quit my one part-time job at XXXXXXX University, and just prior to preparing for a year abroad, was presented by the Dean with a one page document, in Japanese, drawn up specifically for me. No other teachers who had taken sabbaticals in HBJC’s over 120 year history had ever been required to sign such a document requiring me to obey ALL school wide rules and attendant obligations, as well as ALL departmental rules and attendant obligations.

I pointed out that those rules and obligations were contradictory and problematic … and that they, themselves, have as yet to have agreed upon my status and obligations. In that meeting with the Gakucho and Gakubucho, I told them that if I sign such a document, according to department rules, I was explicitly forbidden by my department to voluntarily help even my own seminar student prepare for the XXXXXXXXX Speech Contest.  I had been the only one in the school since even before becoming tenured who took personal responsibility for speech contestant preparation.  Her speech was about her first hand experience at a seaside community during the Great Tohoku Earthquake. I asked the Gakucho and the Gakubucho that if I signed the document forbidding me from helping that student, if they would take personal responsibility for that student’s still embryonic speech. I still have a digital recording of that meeting, and the only response you will hear is an awkward silence.

Pressed again to either sign, or not sign, at the risk of losing my sabbatical … I had to make a choice on the spot, either support the student, or support my ‘career’. With no family depending on me to bring home the bacon, I had the luxury of choice, so I refused to sign. Meeting ended. Research sabbatical immediately revoked.

A day or so later, I made a phone call to XXXXXX University explaining my sabbatical had been canceled and inquired whether I might retain my 3 koma one-day a week schedule. ‘Sorry, that position has already been filled’ was the courteous reply.

Later I received a letter from the head of the Board of Directors of HBJC Inc. telling me that as I have demonstrated no willingness or capacity to follow BOTH the school and the department rules, as of the following academic year, I was to be relieved of all rights to teach classes, and report to my office and await forthcoming orders to be later more clearly specified.

In the meantime, I joined a local union, showed up to a few larger union meetings, and talked with a lawyer — who said I would likely win a case against the school, but it would be a long, emotionally costly, pyrrhic victory at best. A year and a half later, a couple of meetings between the school lawyer and my labor union reps, and my allotted medical leave of absence had expired, leaving me with no choice but to either return to the school under the same conditions (no classes, no research sabbatical) … or resign.

In effect, fellow listserv readers, ignore this cautionary tale at your own peril. When push comes to shove, your ‘contract’ is not worth the paper it’s written on.  Thinking that at age 60, with half a life-time experience, I could just start all over again and go back to life as an itinerant hijokin, living year by year. Ha. Can not even get beyond the faceless intercom voice at the new pre-school next door to my apartment to offer my services as an English volunteer (and here I am being led by mass media to believe the day care centers are in crisis mode) — much less even get a single koma of part-time work in Japan.

I will end this post with [this thought]: Earlier tonight, I saw on NHK 7 pm news that Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Dean gave the opening ceremony speech in English … ‘Be positive. Take chances’. What a crock. A goddamn Kabuki show. And followed at 7:30 pm by more Olympics-inspired panem et circenses in place of my beloved Hiroko Kuniya in prime-time ’Close Up Gendai’ … as if a bevy of ambitious cute young things in the late night CUG ‘plus’ will make up for her once or twice in a generation journalistic integrity. Sincerely, AB.

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

Date: April 14, 2016
From: CD

AB, it sounds like you were put through hell and back. I’m really sorry to hear it!

I’ve advised a number of people in labor situations over the years, including six people over the last twelve months. To be honest, there seems to be a recent upswing in these kinds of cases, almost to the extent of the great “gaikokujin kyoushi” purge of the 90s. While I have my own theories, I’d be interested in reading other opinions about whether and why this may be happening.

I have a pretty good track record with labor cases, not to mention negotiating experience on both sides of the table. From this perspective, let me offer some general advice:

1) Regardless of the provocation, don’t ever quit (unless of course you have a great new job lined up). Let them fire you instead–being terminated gives you advantages later.

2) While certain things can be required of joukin (aka “tenured”) university faculty–to include both the submission of syllabi and the wording used in said syllabi–many of the things listed in AB’s post (e.g., language of instruction, specific pedagogical approaches and materials) usually cannot be demanded of university joukin. (Part-timers can have less protection.) The only exceptions to this that I know of would be where the language and pedagogical requirements were either known to the applicant before hire or represent standards developed and agreed to by all (to include AB) the joukin faculty responsible for these classes–situations seen mostly with intensive language programs or English-medium instruction (EMI) departments/institutions.

3) Given #2, and assuming that AB really was joukin (hired under the same conditions, rights, and obligations as ethnic Japanese members of the kyoujukai), many of the issues described at his workplace fit the government’s definition of Power Harassment (パワハラ).

4) There are several legal remedies available to people in such situations, some expensive and some not so expensive. Regarding the latter, on February 13 in a post to this listserv, I described in detail a FREE (albeit slow) process where the city will fight your employer to stop the Power Harassment (to include even unlawful termination). Again, this process is SLOW–typically, it takes four months to a year to conclude a case. However, I have found it reasonably effective (they usually can negotiate better treatment/employment terms and/or buyouts)… and again it’s free.

5) As alluded to in #2, #3 and #4, the laws here are, to a surprising extent, designed to protect the employee. Moreover, even as a foreign contract worker, you sometimes (e.g., occasionally even in the case of contract non-renewal) have legal protections/recourses available to you that are not available in your home country. Failing to utilize them when wronged is… silly.

6) That said, join a union and try to prepare BEFORE trouble starts. Unions tend not to look favorably upon those who join only after something bad happens. Some will refuse outright to help, while others may be lukewarm in their support. In addition to joining a union, always keep everything (including the advertised copy of your job description and all pertinent emails) and document everything related to your job duties and work performance. While most likely you will never need them, the sad reality in this country is that you never really know. I personally have known foreigners who have had no problems for YEARS–sometimes over twenty years–only to come to work one day and suddenly find that they are no longer wanted.

7) If you need action/results quickly, use a lawyer–preferably one either contacted through your union or specializing in labor issues–and prepare to go to court. Remember that Japanese people DO sue their employers, and such lawsuits are not so rare. At my current university (and department…), there have been three (!) such lawsuits over the last eight years.

8) Know that, regardless of the strength of your case, your lawyer will never promise victory. (Typically, the best they’ll give you is a 50-50 chance if it goes to court.) That said, as I’ve posted numerous times before, your employer almost always does NOT want to go to court–because of the stigma involved in such cases, even winning represents bad publicity. Given this, employers in my experience will almost invariably seek to settle before going to trial.

9) Your employer will most likely lowball you with their first settlement offer and/or try to intimidate you into taking nothing. Now, the amount of settlement you can (should?) receive depends on many factors, including your hiring status (e.g., “joukin” or “ninki-tsuki”), years employed, the strength of your case and employer perception of your ability/willingness to fight. (I have personally found the last to be the most important factor.) That said, with regards to termination and contract nonrenewal cases, while every situation is different (and assuming you are not simply reinstated to your position), I’ve generally seen settlement ranges from four months to twelve months of salary.

Hope this helps! Sincerely, CD

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

Date: April 14, 2016
From: EF

At this point I would advise against teachers to stay here after age 50 or even after 45, unless you have tenure. I met a teacher who is 57 and lost his job at [a National University] after 8 years. Seven other teachers were gotten rid of too. He has a Ph.D. in education but can only get part-time work now. I know another teacher in [a city near Tokyo] who has no job and he must be about 58 or 59 now.

At my new job in XXXXX City the form asked whether I want to get paid or even be paid for commuting.  I guess they hope I will work for free. What do they want, retired teachers to just volunteer.  This could be because of money problems. At a national university in Tokyo, with a deficit of 400 million yen, the university decides that the tea machine in the part-time teachers’ room has got to go. This is in Chofu. Sincerely, EF

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

Date: April 15, 2016
From: GH

I would be wary of the idea that universities have an exemption to the five-year rule. There was a big discussion at my university about this last year, and the head of HR and one of the rijis told me that the wording of the exemption is not very clear (surprise surprise!) and that even among national universities, there was disagreement about what it actually means. Apparently, some universities are now taking the limit to be ten years whereas others are playing it safe and assuming it to be five. Wherever you work, it might be a good idea to find out how they are interpreting it.

My grasp of the legislation is not at the level of some of the posters here, but as I understand it, this new law comes with a number of loopholes anyway. For example, universities will still be able to cut part-timers if they are no longer needed because of “changes to the curriculum” regardless of how long they have worked there. A change to the curriculum could be something as minor as a tiny alteration to the name of a class (“the class that teacher taught is no longer offered at our university, so his/her services are no longer required”) so it seems to me that universities could still get rid of someone quite easily if they wanted to.

I think that in a perverse way, the situation will only become clear when the first person takes their institution to court. If / when that happens, all the other institutions will panic and there will be a huge cull. If it never happens, I guess universities will gradually forget about it. As I say, I am most certainly not an expert on this, but this is the situation as it was explained to me by the people in charge at my university. Sincerely, GH

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

Date: April 15, 2016
From: AB

To: ARUDOU, Debito

Hello Debito san,

Maybe you remember our recent exchange in an e-mail saying I was working on my own writing chops to add to the ‘Great Dialog’ of culture … what it means to be a human, what do we mean by ‘education’, and so on. I have been doing so on Quora, and many times, have posted links to your web page to substantiate my more anecdotal arguments. I am grateful for your critical eye and sheer doggedness in providing a much needed source of information that deserves a wider audience.

I am now 60, and apparently locked out of a career track in academia … failing to gain even one koma of part-time work after two years of submitting resumes and showing up for interviews, failing to gain permission to resume doctoral studies at XXXX Japan, and even failing to gain admission to an on-line Master’s Degree course at XXXXXXXX University in the US. As such, I do not have the financial safety-net of any institution at my disposal, and neither do I have the presumption that I will some day regain such institutional protection. And being kanji illiterate, I don’t even know how much I don’t know about Japanese law and what obligations and rights to which I am entitled (similar to my being kept running circles in the dark at HBJC Inc.). Feeling the full force of the Dunning-Kruger effect here.

Despite an abundance of information from your website (and book – bought, but not yet read), and some well-considered and well-meant advice from listserv members, Facebook ‘buddies’, Quora, and even family back in the states … my day to day survival, even my sanity, is sustained by only three things:

1 – A small community made up primarily of a close circle of friends, mostly Japanese — and mostly here in Japan. I think the constraints of Dunbar’s Number has more than a little to do with this.

2 – The new found leisure to read from the great works of the liberal arts tradition as well as more recent STEM oriented material … and write — as therapy. It helps to have at my disposal more than a lifetime’s worth of books, music, movies, and a wall full of video lectures from The Great Courses series.

3 – A stubborn tenacity to stand by the values and beliefs I have gained from the above two.

Kind regards, Debito san. And keep up the good fight.  Sincerely, AB.

ENDS
====================================

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38 comments on “The 2nd Great Gaijin Massacre in Japan’s education system, with 5-year contracts coming due in 2018 (2023 for uni profs).

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Whilst is is indeed a sad indictment on Japan that the worlds 3rd largest economy has fewer ‘foreign’ faculty that even one U.S. university, is anyone surprised by this news

    I can’t understand how anyone could be.

    After all, Japan’s had 20+ years of deflationary spiral and is still dogged by price fixing collusion and price gauging.
    The urge to cut costs belied Koizumi’s labor reform of temporary contract workers, and the fact that so many Japanese are obliged to suffer such conditions is the main reason for lack of optimism in the future regarding job and income security, and therefore decreasing birth rates, and decreasing spending (which itself leads to more deflation as companies attempt to cut costs, including labor costs, and ‘contribute’ to the LDP to decree a doubling-down on failing policies).

    I don’t really understand how any NJ could responsibly come to live and work in Japan and yet be so willfully ignorant of Japan’s economic and demographic situation, and how that is impacting on society.

    What? They thought that they would be ok because they ‘aren’t Japanese?’.
    I can’t believe anyone could be so naive.

    Or maybe they thought that teaching at university put them above such issues?
    There are plenty of Japanese university teachers in the same boat.

    Yes, it is a bad situation, and it is unjust. But it is something that in my experience NJ and Japanese teachers are subjected to, along with a growing percentage of the japanese labor force (40% last time I checked). So I just think that since this has been a fact of life since Koizumi, and since the Japanese refuse to effect change as they return the LDP to power again and again, affected NJ should have had a ‘Plan B’.

    It’s not like this was a big secret hidden from them; they just refused to pay attention to reality and take responsibility for planning for their futures.

  • Pwnzusauce says:

    If this is the treatment we NJ get for spending our lives here contributing to Japanese society then we definitely need to warn all others before they even get on a plane. Then draw plan B…

    It was a very sad read, thanks for sharing Debito.

  • “…, pyrrhic victory at best. ….When push comes to shove, your ‘contract’ is not worth the paper it’s written on…”

    Yup…been there done that. Taken a company to court, spent maga $$$ and took 2-3years, in the end we won but the judge “let” the others keep my money as they worked hard for it…!!!!

    Contracts are totally worthless here in Asia (Japan/Korea/China). Rule of law is meaningless to these Asian countries, despite their show of public adherence to such. The rot is slowly being exposed day by day of Corporate Japan with scandal after scandal….it is a ticking time bomb.

  • Some teachers may not know what is coming but that must be because they have not been here that long.
    I see many teachers relying on part-time work to get by. That way they can avoid the limited contracts but for how long?
    Universities can cut back in different ways to save money, for example limiting copies, or not even mailing letters to teachers to save on the postage.

    I know of a teacher who works in Tokyo, Saitama and Gumma. I don’t know how teachers can find the energy as they get older.
    Some teachers work at two schools in the same day – say one in the morning, then eat lunch then head to a train station.

    I heard of a university in Tokyo that starts with K, and a rumor there was that there was talk of just outsourcing teaching to Berlitz to save money.

    What is the deal with the pension? Say I go back to the US after living here for 15 years. Will I really get nothing from the Japanese government, or would the pensions be combined?

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Thanks for sharing the anecdotes. The way non-Japanese academies are being treated once again shows how the integrity and ethics of academic profession in Japanese higher education are seriously compromised. This becomes obvious especially in the field of applied linguistics and language education, as I see an increasing number of Japanese universities set high qualifications(Ph.D, +2-3 years of teaching experience, 2-3 publications) for non-tenured positions (including part-time) with little or no promise for promotion. It’s really hard for me to see how corporate ideology and neoliberalism disrupt education system in a way to accelerate de-professionalization of teaching for cultural segregation and ostracism.

  • @brooks
    I think the totalization agreement has you covered. You can have a package sent to you from the embassy or whatever agency is doing it these days

  • I’d like to add to the weight of comments to say that I was another one of the academics pushed over this cliff, as was my wife Julia Hargreaves. We are both reasonably successful scientists(*) who had been working in a JAMSTEC research institute on a succession of contracts for almost 13 years in total, and we were told in 2012 that under the new law, our next 5y contracts would be our last. We chose to leave at a time and in a manner that suited us rather than wait out the end of our contracts.

    We were not entirely surprised by what happened, and did have a plan B, but it was still disappointing that the extreme reluctance to offer tenured positions to foreigners even after well over a decade of productive research, should dominate the “decision making” process to the total exclusion of any other performance-based assessment. I use the quotes as there was no real process as a westerner might understand it. In fact to the end no-one even up to the director was prepared to admit to having made any decision, it was apparently just the way the system worked. For us, at least. JAMSTEC did create a tenure-track system for some of its staff, but we were excluded from it.

    *We are the two most highly cited scientists from the whole of Japan in the latest (2013) IPCC report on climate change, which is by far the most influential international summary of our field of research. Our employer JAMSTEC chose to sack us, but offer open-ended positions to many Japanese staff with relatively mediocre (and in some cases astonishingly low) productivity.

    — Here the racism isn’t even embedded.

  • I have been working on a tenured position at a Japanese university for over 10 years now, and want to give the following advice/comment:

    1. The 2018/2023 problem: As has been mentioned before, the rules are unclear. At my university, this is not a very big topic, as we have only very few teachers on a fixed-term contract (all Japanese, and all working on projects), but I have heard from other universities nearby who give new teachers a contract not running 5 years, but 4 years and 362 days, to avoid anything that could be 5 years long.

    2. Contracted positions are on the rise. A newspaper article by the Nikkei last year mentions that between 2007 and 2013 the share of fixed-term teaching staff among 11 major universities has risen from 27 to 39% of the faculty. No mention of nationalities there, but as the 39% are equal to 11,500 teachers, I guess that the majority of these are Japanese.

    3. There are however, quite a few tenured positios available in Japan. The best place to check is JREC-IN (https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekTop?ln=1). I did a quick search, and the following tenured positions came up:
    a) Sophia: https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekJorDetail?fn=3&ln=1&id=D116050862&ln_jor=1
    b) Meiji: https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekJorDetail?fn=3&ln=1&id=D116050709&ln_jor=1
    c) Doshisha: https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekJorDetail?fn=3&ln=1&id=D116050166&ln_jor=1
    d) Hiroshima City: https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekJorDetail?fn=3&ln=1&id=D116041099&ln_jor=1
    e) Komazawa: https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekJorDetail?fn=3&ln=1&id=D116041067&ln_jor=1
    There are more, so look for yourself.
    All these positions are tenured and open to any nationalities.

    4. Get a tenured position. While there are cases of people being pushed out of tenured positions, or universities/departments being closed and everybody laid off, in general one does have a very secure position, with lots of freedom.

    5. Publish, publish, apply for funding (especially kakenhi), publish, get a PhD, publish, publish. While there are quite a few people in the Japanese higher education system, who got a tenured job with very few low-level publications written decades ago, nowadays you must have a strong CV to get a tenured position. While having many publications is not a gurantee to get a job, it is nearly impossible to get one with few or no publications.

    6. As has been written above, join a union. Do not join when troubles come up, but join immediately, 6nd be active. I have been a union member from day one, and have twice been a member of the executive union committee, the second time I was even elected the vice-president of the union. I must admid though that much of the union work is tedious, with lots and long meetings in typical stupid boring Japanese-style, but you get some results, meet nice people and form networks.

  • Sorry I forgot to paste the link for the Nikkei article I mentioned in 2):
    http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASDG14HBI_T00C15A5CR8000/

    大学教員「任期付き」4割 主要11大学、6年で4000人増
    日本経済新聞 2015/5/3 22:44

     国内の主要な11大学で、有期雇用に当たる任期付き教員が2013年度までの6年間で4千人以上増えたことが、文部科学省の調査で分かった。特に若手研究者で増えており、特定の研究プロジェクトに対する外部資金を財源にした雇用の増加が背景にある。同省の担当者は「若手のポストが不安定になっている」と分析し、懸念を示している。

     同省科学技術・学術政策研究所などが北海道、東北、筑波、東京、早稲田、慶応義塾、東京工業、名古屋、京都、大阪、九州の計11大学でつくる懇談会「RU11」の全教員を対象に調べた。

     07年度に11大学に所属した65歳以下の教員は全体で計2万6559人。このうち任期付き教員は7255人だった。13年度は全2万9421人中、任期付きが1万1541人となり、6年間で4千人以上増加した。全体に占める任期付き教員の割合は27%から39%に上昇した。この間、無期雇用に当たる任期なし教員は約1400人減った。

     任期付き教員の増加は特に若手に顕著で、30歳以上35歳未満の教員の場合、任期付きは07年度の1618人から13年度には2493人になった。35歳以上40歳未満は1650人から2899人に急増した。

     教員の任期の有無には、雇用する財源の違いが大きく影響している。任期なし教員の財源は、ほぼ全てを国立大学法人運営費交付金といった「基盤的経費」が占める。一方、任期付き教員の財源は、特定のプロジェクトなどに支出される「競争的資金」の割合が高まっている。

     大学の研究費を巡っては04年度の国立大学法人化以降、基盤的経費が年々減り、1~5年程度で成果が求められる競争的資金の割合が増加。研究力の高いRU11に競争的資金が集中し、特定のプロジェクトを推進するために若手研究者を「特任教員」として雇用するようになっている。

     科学技術・学術政策研究所の担当者は「競争的資金の予算規模は年度によって変動し、特任教員の数も変わるため、不安定な雇用の要因になっている」と指摘している。

  • Ok, Thanks.

    The other thing I can mention is that my wife started at a woman’s university in Tokyo in April. She has three koma on Tuesday but it will be cut to one class (first period!) in the fall and nothing in 2017 due to combining two departments.
    Anything to save money. Last hired, first fired.

    Seems that the longer I stay here, the less money I make and the earlier I get up. I get up at five thirty.
    I could get another limited contract (3 years) for next year but I am just thinking of getting out of here.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    For me, this says it all;

    “People seeking to make a life in Japan: Beware! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito”.

    I think for me, it was a case of having better things to do with my life than fighting an uphill battle against institutional racism just so that I could keep a mediocre and soul crushing university position.

    Ask yourself the question I asked myself;
    Is the prize worth all the effort and stress, and BS?
    Quite frankly, I thought not.

    Japan isn’t so great that I’d waste a period of years fighting the system to work at a fake university where students are customers literally paying for me to pass them. The system is fake, why buy into that? Believe me, walking away was so refreshing, and now I work for myself and feel much more fulfilled, and I don’t have to be around anyone who tries to play the NJ card on me; I can (and do) show them the door.

  • Well, it depends. I work at a national and public university.
    Students are better, but pay is not. Still waiting for my April pay at the public one.
    I could get a three year contract then would lose my job. I don’t see what the incentive is, since by 2020 I would be looking for work again.
    To just say, well publish more, then everything will work out.
    Universities want to save money now and the easiest way to do that is to cut foreign staff and to have part-timers do more work, and to not hire new full-time teachers once the older ones retire or take early retirement.

    I want to buy a house (so can stop paying a Japanese landlord) and want job security so it is not going to happen in this country.

  • Seems like every new bit of news coming out of Japan just vindicates my choice to abandon ship years ago, even after eating the huge punch in the gut that was taking the lump sum payment in lieu of banking on Japan honoring the totalization agreement by the time I retired.

  • Brooks,

    I hear you, and agree totally. Just go part-time. Don’t mess around with non-renewable contracts for full-time instructor positions. It is poisoned chalice. You’re better off just stringing together several part-time jobs. That, or get out. Pursue a career with pension, benefits and stability back home. I will never recommend Japan to highly qualified TESOL instructors.

  • I don’t know if things are as bleak as this post and comments show.

    Oliver’s post was very constructive.

    I got my tenure-track (should become tenured next year) position with an MA, but the university now asks for PhD for the same position (they aren’t getting qualified people though, so at the moment you can still be hired with an MA).

    5+3 contract, eligible for tenure after 3 years at a national university. We are expanding the number of teachers so two positions should be advertised in late summer on J-RECIN.

    I don’t think it’s easy to get a secure position, you need relevant qualifications (MA and possibly PhD), publications, very good Japanese (spoken and reading), teaching experience, and an ability to get along with colleagues and office staff. If you have those though I think there are still jobs out there.

    Much better than any job I could get in the UK teaching EFL/ESL 😉

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Sendaiben #16

    Please forgive me, but with all due respect, you’re telling me it’s not that bad as we’re making it look because your in a position where you’ve been told you’ll get tenure next year? For real? I’ve lost count of the number of time I’ve heard people say ‘I’ll get tenure next year’, and then come next year their one year contract doesn’t get renewed and they have to start all over again. That’s usually when the reality of teaching in Japan dawns on them.

    I hope you do indeed get tenure next year, but until that happens, you’re really just buying into a possibly empty promise.

  • Well I think the questions are – how good at Japanese (N2 or more)?
    How many publications? ( I have heard at least 15)
    And getting along with colleagues is a funny one.
    What does that mean? Act subserviant? Do as you are told? Don’ t rub people the wrong way?

  • TrevorDavidson568 says:

    I guess I come at this from a slightly different perspective from many of you. I work at a Japanese university not as an academic but an administrator (a category I don’t remember having been discussed in any depth at debito.org).
    Many of the non-Japanese staff I know at the university are on annual contracts renewable up to 5 years, the same as many of those taken on as contract-based academics. However, around half of the staff in my office and across the university are contract-based, regardless of nationality, so I am not sure this is an issue of discrimination rather than a reflection on the poorly thought through laws whereby staff with experience and skills are effectively dumped at the end of their contracts to be replaced by new staff without the same skills and experience.
    I see around me that many non-Japanese academics are taken on on non-tenure track, contract positions, but this is also the case for Japanese academics. I am not saying this is fair, but this is not necessarily a case of discrimination against non-Japanese.
    Incidentally, I was taken on as a full time (‘tenured’) administrator at the university I work at (one which is on Debito’s black list) from day one. I offered a set of skills that the university was keen on acquiring and had results to back it up. I was not another generic signing and this was perhaps what made the difference between being offered a permanent position and a 5-year, time-limited one.

    — Yes, so if you’re offered a tenured position that defies the norm, and they are offered term-limited employment, it’s all their fault. Your clear lack of sympathy for those “NJ staff” (as opposed to “colleagues”) comes off as rather unctuous. After all, you’ve got yours — why care about them?

    Moreover, this read of the situation defies history — one where until the 1990s NJ were almost always offered ninkisei contracts and full-time Japanese were almost always offered permanent tenure from day one. That was always inherently discriminatory (“Academic Apartheid“). Making more Japanese positions into positions as insecure as “NJ staff” through term-limited contract employment (by GOJ design) does not suffice to diminish or deny that history. Further, your assessment ignores the embedded inequality of NJ remaining in weaker bargaining positions no matter what (after all, they can just “go back to their own country”) with the contract renewal deadlines looming. The massacre will come, and it will disproportionally affect the extranationals no matter what you claim.

    You may be a qualified tenured administrator, but clearly you’re not a scholar of history in this field. It would behoove you as an academic to do some reading before you cruelly play contrarian. Start here.

  • Hi Jim 🙂

    No, I’m saying that there are jobs out there that are better than the ‘one-year contract, renewable three times’. The sector as a whole is not great with so many weaker universities due to close in the future, but there are *some* jobs that are better. Most of my non-Japanese friends in university jobs in Sendai are tenured.

    My own job became tenure-track 2.5 years ago when they reorganized our center. Before that we were on a 4+3 contract. That was changed to 5+3 during which we become eligible for tenure. As you say, we’ll see what happens next year.

    The way I see it, people can get a tenured job or make sure they have a plan B (or ideally both). Complaining about it doesn’t seem very useful.

    Resigning also seems a bit foolish without another decent option waiting (as in the original post).

  • Hi Brooks

    As far as I have seen here, you need enough Japanese to get through a formal interview, participate in meetings, and read official emails. Probably between N2 and N1. I passed the old 1-kyuu in 2008 or so.

    Publications I think 3 is the minimum? Not sure, and will almost definitely depend on the institution.

    Get along with colleagues just means be generally pleasant and professional. Reply to emails, submit your paperwork, say hello to colleagues, that kind of thing.

    — Hi Sendaiben. I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but the last bit is not enough. Plenty of J-academics cannot and will not accept a NJ as a senpai, so one other probable requirement is perpetual subservience (called “getting along”) as younger colleagues increasingly treat you as a pet gaijin as you get older. Dare to buck that trend, and demand the dignity and respect commensurate to any older Japanese colleague? Then you’re not “getting along” anymore. Fine to buck if you already have tenure. But if you don’t, it’s one more issue that will affect your contract renewal the older you get. Believe me, I know from personal experience. And I already had tenure at my former university for more than eighteen years. That’s one reason why I quit even though I had tenure. I wish you luck to your escaping that dynamic, but academia anywhere is hard-wired to generate high-stakes power games because the stakes are so small. And NJ academics rarely are allowed a stake.

  • Hi Debito

    I agree! I can see some things getting old here as time goes on. That’s why I believe very strongly in having a plan B (or C, or D). After I lost my kencho job in 2008 with just a few months notice, I vowed never to be in that kind of vulnerable situation again.

    And so far, at uni, not being 100% dependent on the job makes it much easier to handle. I could leave at any time and it might even make my life better. Takes the edge off. I can imagine the stress would be much worse if you weren’t in a position to walk away.

    Expletive-laden explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdfeXqHFmPI

    But you know all about that, having done it 😉

  • Yes, Debito is correct here of course. To be sure, some Japanese have also fallen into the non-renewal trap and have been very harshly treated by their employer (both at my institute and others I’ve known about), but they typically have a sempai (eg, PhD supervisor) who will look after them to some extent – if not protect them in their positions, at least find them a sideways move etc. Some NJ may get similar protection if they are lucky, but it’s certainly not the norm. As I’ve mentioned (and you can check, I’m not hiding my identity) I was extremely productive by local standards, as was my wife, and we both just got a shrug and told that our contracts were non-renewable. There wasn’t even a pretence of an evaluation.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Sendaiben #20

    That’s good to hear.
    I agree that this is a bad situation all round for NJ and J academics and not necessarily a matter of anti-NJ racism. In fact, I’d have to say that it’s more likely an unfortunate convergence of two (or more) social problems playing out in concert with each other and mutually reinforcing respective negative side effects, namely;

    1. An education system that has never seemed to value teaching ‘natural English’ over rote-learning (and thereby marginalizing NJ academics in all fields via a genuine belief in their ‘incompatability’ with ‘unique’ Japanese education systems and methods). And,

    2. The declining population that is forcing Japan’s over-abundant centers of tertiary education to scrape the bottom of the barrel in every respect to cut enough costs to survive just the immediate future; their ‘pie’ is shrinking before their very eyes!

    How much of this is a direct result or cause (or purely coincidental) to Abe’s right-wing dream of stamping out humanities is a debate worth having purely to attempt to correctly understand what has happened (although to be fair, with the incredibly low standards of Japanese university education, it seems redundant for him to have singled out humanities as any kind of threat to his right-wing recidivism).

    Ultimately, this is an exercise in living history since Japan’s demographic writing is on the wall; re-arranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic won’t stop the ship from sinking, and this whole society is about to slam into an economic/demographic disaster like a bug on windshield; everything will be voided.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @TrevorDavidson568, #18

    Hi. I take you as a newcomer here. I don’t want to believe you have some intense to offend many people here, but your term “slightly” sounds more than an understatement. Your argument that locals are also getting affected is a kind of juggernaut that could swing either way depending on where you want to go. It’s a sort of argument that tempts you to show a strong disapproval of people supporting those who are facing any type of injustice, by suggesting “Others get affected to”(so shut the hell up and do your job. If you don’t like it, then get the hell out of Japan!” Very tempting to those whose worldview is so wired up that they could event go off the deep end to make racist rant like Donald Trump supporters. This is not racism, so it doesn’t deserve attention. Right!? That’s a typical fallacy argument made by apologists, contrarians, or any like-minded persons. Examples: David Duke, Peter Cunningham, David Brooks, Thomas Friedman, Eva Moskowitz(A master of troubled Success Academy charter school chains in NYC), Campbell Brown(a telegenic leader of pro-private education PR machine The 74million), John King(a current clueless US Education Secretary) Gregory Clark(a disgruntled Australian diplomat), Kent Gilbert(a Wajin cheerleader clown), or anyone pretending to be cheerleader of Japan Inc. to bash those facing social injustice. What’s common to these figures–regardless of fields/areas, is that they like to create their own bubbles by spreading misinformation and make people believe they are right about their own agendas–even though their arguments are utterly groundless and scientifically flawed(like a clueless tele-genie Campbell Brown). They want people like you to believe that their opponents are wrong, selfish, and greedy. In the field of NJ issues in Japan, they behave very similarly to those right-wing, Confederate/Swastika Flag loving troll who are spreading a load of nonsense to cater to their whim.

  • @ Sendaiben #21

    I will second what 有道博士 has said. The attitude of “NJ cannot be 先輩” is not limited to tertiary education. I work for a daycare service and encountered that same attitude with a new 後輩 coming in, trying to address me with 呼び捨て from day 2, followed by repeated attempts to try to tell me how to do my job, etc. Yes, the problem can extend even to that low level of workplace, it seems. I would venture to guess it stems from the warped perspective of you, the NJ, as a perpetual (and yet simultaneous) “visitor,” as it seems Japanese are willing to accept research and pay heed to developments from NJ academics abroad. However, when “you” are on “their turf”, you apparently can’t be expected to be thought of as belonging to the same hierarchy.

    I sincerely hope the culture at your institution is different. Please let us know if your 後輩 properly pay their respects when the time comes.

  • My main beef with tenure is that it seems so random.
    Consider these examples, all of which are true:

    1 – A Canadian gets tenure at a university in Tokyo.
    Lots of publications, Japanese at N1 level, experience, etc.
    2 – Teacher gets tenure in Kanagawa. Has publications but Japanese is not so good.
    Has a MA in literature. A bit of a workaholic, and a nasty temper but not around Japanese full-timers.
    3 – Teacher has a BA but knows someone at a university in Tokyo. Gets tenure after
    working at the attached high school for several years. Japanese ability is not so good. Probably acts subservient.

    So to me, it does seem that luck and timing play a role, as well as if one is liked.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    No doubt at all that the discrimination J-universities show towards NJ academics is a factor behind The Times dropping Todai from best university in Asia to seventh (ouch! You can literally hear that pride breaking across Japan)!

    And to top it all, China now matches Japan in numbers of universities listed in the top 200! Even worse, more than half of China’s are in the top 100, whilst more than half of Japan’s are in the bottom 100.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/21/national/todai-falls-top-asia-rankings-seventh/

    Enjoy your racial supremacy navel gazing J-academics!

  • @ Jim Di Griz #28

    Jim, I’m not one to shoot down any criticism of racist policies or the consequences of such, but isn’t China (and Korea too) just as troubled with racism as Japan? I’ve no first-hand experience, but that’s what I’ve read. Are the employment practices in China seriously more liberal and fair than Japan?

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ HJ #29

    China and Korea racist too, you say?
    Maybe they are, so what?
    I live in Japan.
    I have a business in Japan.
    My wife is Japanese.
    My wife has a business in Japan.
    I have Japanese kids who live in Japan.
    So as a responsible husband and father, as well as for my own self-interest, combatting racist xenophobia in Japan is of direct interest to me.

    When we’ve created created a more egalitarian Japan, when we’ve forced Japan to live up to that ‘modern, democratic, country of law’ lie that we were sold when we invested in Japan, when we’ve made Japan really become a country that ‘shares our common values’ as Abe told both Houses of Congress that it did, then and only then will I consider taking on discrimination in China (the worlds most populous nation, which has only opened to the west since the 90’s), or Korea, divided by a nuclear armed mad-man.

    Yeah, I think that Japan’s been talking itself up longer and louder than both these two, and really needs its bluff called.

    You think I’m being unfair? I made an investment of time and effort, because Japan is selling a lie.

  • @Jim #30

    分かっている上に共感しています。僕が言いたかったのはただ単に中国にも韓国にも人種差別問題はなかなか広まっているので、東大はなぜランキングが下がったのかは多分人種差別に関係ないだろうだけでした。「人種差別は他国にも存在するから日本のはどうしようもない」などといった言い訳ではなかったのです。誤解を招いて、申し訳ないですが、僕はディグリズさんの敵ではなく、仲間だと、念頭に置いて下さいますようお願いしたいと思います。

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ HJ #31

    First you do the apologist thing of whining “B, b, but China and Korea!” To deflect from the fact that Japan has issues, and I took the time to answer you.

    Now you’re doing the apologist thing of ‘testing my Japanese’ as if;

    1. There is a correlate between language ability and the right to have an opinion. And,
    2. Because I don’t respond to the comments you’ve made in Japanese, you will now claim that I ‘can’t read or write Japanese’ and therefore that I’ve ‘completely misunderstood Japan- there is no racism!’, right?

    I’ve seen it all before from a hundred other right-wingers and apologists. I don’t know why Dr. Debito gives you the time of day.

  • @Jim #32

    No, no, no. I’m not an apologist. You misunderstood my point. I wrote to you in Japanese because I assumed you’re fluent, and I like it when people speak Japanese to me. The linguistic segregation here is one of the worst parts of the racism. Japanese or English, I am never defending or apologizing for the widespread racism here that severely impacts both your life and mine. I understand you’re bitter and angry; I am too. Please don’t mistake me for an apologist though.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I’m not going to budge in the altercation between the two posters(ahead of mine: see #31&32), but a couple of things. First, I agree that racism is not a sole factor for Todai’s falling international rank, although I wouldn’t be surprised if that plays out for their admission policy on limited foreign applicants or cultural diversity. There are lots of foreign applicants applying for limited, non-tenured positions (I did that once two years ago, as an experiment) at the top rank national university. There might be selective numbers of non-Japanese faculties in humanities/social science departments, but
    overwhelming numbers of faculty body in university departments are Japanese. Students will be very lucky to have a British or American professor in science or engineering department.

    Second, I’m not interested in who’s at fault game here, so I will leave it up to you two. I don’t think I have to elaborate on this. I find one side a bit sarcastic in response–although it’s understandable(since I had similar gut feelings several times), and the other confusing(code-switching in retort).

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ HJ #33

    I can speak, read and write Japanese, but you are doing exactly what I said you’d do- your making this a personal attack on me, telling me that I’m ‘bitter and angry’, and focusing on your belief that I can’t understand Japanese so that you can deflect from the issue.

    “I’m not an apologist” you say, and then you apologize.

    You deflected by asking about China and Korea.
    I answered why they aren’t relevant to this discussion.
    You then ignored my reply and started schlong measuring Japanese language ability games to deflect from the issue.
    That makes you classic apologist.

    — That’s quite enough. This back-and-forth is adding nothing to the blog discussion at hand. You’ve said your piece, JDG. I’ll let HJ have the last word, provided it’s civil in tone.

  • @ Jim #35

    I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention to offend you with what I said, or my choice to use Japanese. As I said before, A) the presence (or lack) of racism in China and Korea has nothing to do with the need to resolve the very real racism problem afflicting all levels of society in Japan. My only point was simply the fact that Chinese and Korean universities, which are probably guilty of the same racism, are succeeding on this list of Asian universities; therefore, that a Japanese university lost credit probably isn’t due to its racism. Nowhere in that statement did I claim that there is no racism at work in Japan, or that because Chinese and Koreans might be racist it’s okay for Japanese to be, or that because other countries have a racism problem there’s no need to do anything about the problem in Japan (all of which are, from my understanding anyway, the classic apologist positions, with all of which I quite staunchly disagree).

    B) I wrote to you in Japanese to show sincerity, not to “measure dicks.” NJ are often treated as if we are incapable of using the language or should not be allowed to except when absolutely necessary, and even then it’s as if it’s okay to throw in as much unnecessary English as possible to incessantly remind us that we’re different. I spent years studying the language and moved to Japan to be able to use it. I don’t understand in what situations you will not be offended if a fellow NJ speaks/writes Japanese to you, but again, it was not my intent to further irritate you by using it. You’ve been here longer than I, have your own business, and have a Japanese wife and kids, right? These are things I knew about you from seeing your various other posts on this Web site. I presumed A) you are fluent in Japanese and B) consequently using Japanese would not be a problem. Certainly you’re not like many Japanese, who think I ought to speak English no matter what. This is my own personal stance, I don’t know if everyone agrees with it or not, but people like you and me, fellow NJ members of Japanese society, living, working, paying taxes, and participating in society, some with families (like you), Japanese is just as much our language as English is. It is the language of our country–this country, Japan–and there is absolutely no reason we shouldn’t be allowed to speak it whenever we want, including amongst ourselves.

    If this apology and explanation is not sufficient, I don’t know what else to say. You have misinterpreted my words, accused me of apologizing for Japanese racism when I have not, and even when I apologize for the initial misunderstanding, you further turn that around and twist it into yet another claim of being an apologist. Using Japanese is classic apologist? From my experience, most apologists can’t speak Japanese or never do, hence part of the reason it’s easy for them to pretend like there’s no racism problem. In an ironic twist, the racists claim Japanese language ability is necessary to understand how Japan is supposedly not racist, but in reality it’s only once you become capable of really communicating in and understanding Japanese that you start to see how bad the racism problem is. (Including the rather obnoxious attitude towards NJ who are speaking Japanese.)

    Please accept my apology. You and I are both NJ members of Japanese society. We are both suffering from the racism problem and want to do something about it. As I said before, that makes us allies, not enemies. NJ cannot accomplish much positive social change if we are in-fighting instead of working together.

  • The US situation for professors is now as bad as the situation reported for Japan. Nobody gets tenure, nobody gets full time jobs. Tuition goes up every year, professor pay and job security goes down every year – so the money must be going to the bureaucrats.

  • @ Timothy Dunn,

    The situation in the US is just as bad?
    Oh well, in that case, Japan’s discriminatory system is ok, right? I mean, that’s your point isn’t it? Deflection from Japan’s shortfalls by high-lighting others is a regular apologist passive-aggressive fallback position.

    Is that what you are doing?
    I’m surprised Dr. Debito didn’t challenge you on it.

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