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  • Asia Pacific University Blacklisted

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 3rd, 2007

    Hi Blog. Have just updated the Blacklist of Japanese Universities, a website which warns the public about limited employment opportunities in Japanese academia. Joining the 99 universities up there is the following entry:

    NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Asia Pacific University (a division of Ritsumeikan University, also blacklisted) (Private)
    LOCATION: 1-1 Jumonjibaru, Beppu City, Oita Prefecture, 874-8755
    EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Contract employment with caps. And they will enforce them in court. Let’s quote the university:

    “In relation to the demand for a preliminary injunction in order to preserve the position outlined in the employment contracts of former full-time Japanese language lecturers originally hired in April of 2002 and who had fulfilled their 4 year period of employment, the Oita District Court (presiding judge: KAMINO Taiichi) handed down its verdict on November 30th, unequivocally dismissing the suit launched by the former lecturers.

    The Court in its ruling confirmed that Ritsumeikan, in its efforts to improve language education at APU, was both reasonable and had cause in abolishing the positions within the lecturer system in order to plan for the creation of a new lecturer organization. As to whether the decision to halt the employment of the lecturers was fair and just, the Court ruled that:

    1. There was no truth to the allegation that Ritsumeikan, at a Japanese language workshop held in 1999, had indicated that it would endeavor to allow full-time Japanese language lecturers to extend their period of employment should they wish to do so.
    2. That it was possible to infer that expectations for a continuation of employment stemmed from the 1999 Japanese language workshop, yet there was no reason for such expectations.
    3. That the employment contracts in question (for full-time lecturers) outlined an employment period of 4 years (the period of guaranteed employment), that the contracts provided a period of employment of 1 year, and that although this touched upon Article 14 of the former labor standards law, it was appropriate in this case.
    4. That in accordance with the completion of the period of employment, the decision to halt the employment of the former lecturers did not constitute abuse of the right to dismissal.

    The Court acknowledged that the response of Ritsumeikan was fair, and thus summarily rejected the former lecturers’ demand.”

    SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Gloating announcement from the university Vice President on the APU website, dated December 25, 2006, indicating that they had vanquished the “former full-time” employees in court. Merry Christmas to you, too. Original link here. In case that disappears, downloadable webarchive here.


    6 Responses to “Asia Pacific University Blacklisted”

    1. Tina Ottman Says:

      Some background to the above ruling. This is an excerpt from a PALE list post on July 23, 2006. What came true: the sad prediction that the case might be lost. But thank you to all those who signed the petition mentioned below.

      “The situation at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU)

      “Hi, I know everyone is very busy with grading and some of you are preparing to leave Japan for the summer, but I am writing to urge you all to take a little time to go online and sign the APU Oita Local Teachers Union petition to support its struggle to reinstate the fired jokin koshi. Story below. Theirs is a case of clear injustice. Promises were made and broken. Please, please put aside your marking for a marking for a few minutes, and take time to read this post.

      You can find the petition at

      Note: If you follow the directions, you may receive your “signature number” with strange mojibake letters, because of Japanese characters they use. But your “signature number” is last 6 numbers of the message. e.g. if you receive a message “your signature number¡¡480615” actually your number is 480615. (Ignore any prior alphabet letters, which are not part of your signature number. We are writing to the APU people to advise them that this may confuse people.)

      A further note: Apart from the principles involved, it’s way easier to support the court actions of others . There is no personal stress or risk to you, but in pragmatic terms, in the APU situation, and in the situation of many of us as contract teachers, the benefits are
      substantial. The result of the APU court case will have very big influence on us all one way or another.

      If they will lose—and that is possible–it will be very, very bad for us. We should do everything that we can. A huge number of non-Japanese names on petition list will create a large pressure on Ritsumeikan University and on the court. And other universities will follow this verdict. A fellow GU activist tells me that Japanese people “are very weak with pressure from foreigners, you know”. So please sign, but also ask people – your friends in Japan , your friends in other countries, and the mailing lists that you subscribe to all over the world — to participate in the petition. Ask your friends to ask their friends to participate in it. You can say that it’s a very important case for all foreign university teachers in Japan, and all foreign migrant workersin Japan, and also Japanese teachers, and Japanese workers: in short all workers in Japan, or in the world. In this case, it’s true.


      For those of you who feel you do not feel you have a sufficient handle on what has been happening at APU—and it is a long and confusing dispute—for your convenience, I post the following information below.

      This is the APU teachers’ union plea to Judge Taiichi Kamino, Oita District Court, which is pretty much “the story so far” and therefore helpful:

      “The request for a fast and fair decision on the case of the dismissal of the Jokinkoshi at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

      “Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) enforced the dismissal of several teachers who had held a position called “Jokinkoshi” (Full-Time Lecturer) at the expiration of the teacher’s tentative four-year contract on March 31, 2006.”

      “This dismissal occurred under the following circumstances. APU suddenly informed all Jokin koshis in the Summer of 2005 of their dismissal at the end of their respective contracts. The first teachers were fired at the end of March, 2006 although APU had promised to continue their employment after the expiration of their contracts, just as APU had assured all Jokin koshis teaching Japanese that they would be re-hired at the end of their contracts. The Plaintiff in this case is one of the teachers who were dismissed in March, 2006.

      “APU opened in April, 2000. On October 24, 1999, APU gathered all of the Japanese teachers they planned to hire and held an explanation meeting in Kyoto. An official from APU answered a “question list” compiled from Jokinkoshis’ questions about working conditions at APU. The 19th item in the list was the question about the renewal of their contracts at the time of expiration of their contracts. The official from APU explained that they were hired for a term of 4 years but that APU would continue to employ them up to their retirement age if they wanted to stay on. He told them that the following contracts would remain the same as the first one, that the teachers could not expect any future job promotion or pay raise.

      “Upon hearing that the renewal of their contracts was promised, the teachers who attended the explanationmeeting withdrew their applications for jobs at other universities or resigned their previous positions, and started to work at APU.

      “There is hard evidence of this oral promise. First, all 14 Jokinkoshis who participated in the explanation meeting heard that they would be able to continue to work after the expiration of the contract and that their working conditions and payments would not change in
      the future. They heard the APU official say: “Stay up to retirement age, please.”

      One professor and one associate professor in attendance also heard the same explanation. The statement signed by these 16 in the case. In addition, Jokinkoshis jotted down what the
      official explained and some of them still have those notes.

      “Seven teachers are each stating in the fact that they had received confirmed employment continuation and that they had turned down other job opportunities in order to work at APU. They emphasize that they would have refused the APU employment if they had not had
      received this promise.

      “APU is aiming to enlarge its student enrollment 1.5 times its current size within the next 4 years. Therefore, APU has started recruiting new teachers to fill positions called
      “Jokyukoshi” and ”Shokutakukoshi,” as well as a few teachers with a five-year contract. In other words, APU has a high teacher employment need. Given this situation, the dismissal of teachers who have a long experience of education and research is unfairand an injustice.

      “The broken promise of continued employment in education and research is severely threatening the livelihood of the teachers.

      “We request that Oita District Court decides the case in favor of the plaintiff urgently.
      “A representative of signers,
      “Chairman of Oita district Union
      Kazuyuki Ikemoto”

      Kanemaru Yuichi, Professor, Faculty of Economics, Ritsumeikan University , explains the rationale of the petition below:

      “Colleagues of mine from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) were fired at the end of the last academic year, and have been forced to take legal action. I was a member of the Preparatory Committee to Establish Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University , and I worked at APU for the first four years of its existence. Based on the insights gained through these experiences, I have determined that the position of those who were fired is correct and so am supporting them. If nothing is done, all lecturers involved in language teaching will be fired and replaced by teachers from non-academic language schools or by language tutors who will be paid a mere three million yen a year. To replace specialist language teachers with the cheapest non-academics available is equivalent to institutional suicide. Moreover, it contradicts the social mission of a university, which is to develop human resources. For these reasons, I am deeply concerned about APU’s direction.
      The home page of the organization has been established to support those who have been fired … I would be deeply grateful if you would agree to sign in your support. It is possible to do so anonymously.”

      I can’t imagine one of our own sennin at Rits U Kinugasa/BKC campuses (in Kyoto and Shiga) writing something like this. I find it extraordinary and quite moving. I think we ought to applaud that kind of solidarity by showing some of our own.

      It has been said to me offlist in private emails that we (e.g from Rits U GU branch) often give a partial picture of our own dispute at Rits. Since some of you would probably like to know both sides of the story, some of the things that APU has written in response to this dispute are extremely revealing. They hang themselves with their own rope, so to speak. Here is most of the enchilada from their website. Any emphasis such as italics or underlining is my own:

      APU Position in Response to APU Affiliation of Oita Labor Union Claims

      Date 2006/3/10 16:02:00

      “From February 27th, the APU Branch of the Oita Labor Union put its claims on pamphlets and distributed them around Beppu City . These claims were in no way based on the points made clear in the bargaining that took place on 5 occasions and were a purely one-sided view.

      “This action does nothing to encourage the people of Oita and Beppu supporting APU and the APU students, faculty and staff who are making every effort to make APU a success. It seems clear that their intention is to make APU seem like the guilty party in a one-sided view. For this reason it is our wish to make our position clear and provide truthful explanation to the
      people of Oita Prefecture and Beppu City.

      “Strengthening the APU Language Education Structure ”

      “Language education at APU has achieved much in the 5 years since APU’s opening and is receiving high praise from all areas in society. With the intake of essentially non-Japanese speaking international students, carrying out bilingual education with the language education that supports this system, we have been involved in many activities never seen before. It is for this reason that we proudly believe we have received such high levels of social recognition. These achievements are due to the significant efforts of the Permanent Faculty Members, Full Time faculty Lecturers and Part Time Lecturers working on the front line of
      education. We are of course thankful to the Full Time Lecturers for their efforts, but their pamphlet does not credit the total efforts of all faculty and staff at APU for the bilingual education system.”

      “The APU language education system still needs improvement in order to equip students with the language skills necessary for use in international society. We see the need for radical
      strengthening of APU language education system. Based on a standardized education plan, language education policies shall be established and implemented, high level education materials produced, the education content standardized and reform and enhancement of education methods must be carried out. In order to achieve these goals the faculty system shall undergo
      reform. A new system of Junior and Senior Lecturers shall be introduced to replace the Full Time Lecturer system.

      “In cooperation with permanent faculty members an overalllanguage education coordinator shall be put in place and faculty members shall be responsible for classes in which high level
      language education is carried out. Through their efforts in these roles we aim to further raise the level of APU language education. A number of the current Full Time Lecturers shall
      remain under the new system to carry out education activities. For these reasons, the university does not believe that the abolition of the Full Time Lecturer system shall result in a decline in APU language education, as claimed by the union.

      “Full Time Lecturers Employed Under Non-Tenured System”

      “Based on these educational aims, we have carried the faculty member system reforms. In order to maintain a large number of high level faculty members we believe the non tenured system is the most effective. The majority of private universities in Japan are dependant on the income derived from student tuition fees. It is said that private university tuition
      fees in Japan are among the highest in the world and the cost to parents is reaching its limit.Given these economic constraints on private universities and at the same time
      looking at the constantly changing educational needs in society, the non tenured system allows us to gain the maximum effort within a specified period of time. For this reason it is
      an effective system.

      “In most private universities, language education is handled by part-time faculty members. This represents a problem in both the university education plan and in the stability of
      employment for the faculty members. The previous system of Full Time Lecturers and new system of Junior and Senior Lecturers employed at APU contributes to solving this issue.

      “We believe that the educational work done at APU by the Senior and Junior Lecturers and non tenured faculty members will be useful when applying for other positions at APU or other universities after their contract has expired.

      “In fact, a number of current Full Time Lecturers at APU have been hired under this new structure or found permanent positions at other universities. The Full Time Lecturer
      system is also a non tenure system in this way.

      “The non tenure system of employing faculty members is becoming a trend which is reflected in both the private and public universities in Japan.

      “Current System Does Not Allow For Continuous Employment After End of Contract”

      “The union is claiming that the university explained at the “Japanese Workshop” on October 24, 1999, that “You can work continuously” and “Please work until retirement”. However, as explained above, the Full Time Lecturer system is a non tenure system and therefore the university would never make such statements considering this fact.Furthermore the university has, on a number of occasions, held hearings with the faculty member who carried out the
      explanation on that occasion. That person has stated that “This is not true”.

      “At that time, the university clearly stated in the Full Time Lecturer recruitment information and notice of acceptance that “Contracts are for one year and can be renewed up to a maximum of two times” and that the Full Time Lecture position was a non tenure position. Here it is clear that the Full Time Lecturer system is a non tenure system and the
      contracts were signed based on the understanding of the individuals. Therefore, to now claim that the completion of their contracts represents “Dismissal” is incorrect. Furthermore, since last August the university has on five occasions entered into bargaining with the Oita Labor Office regarding this issue and has held discussions with the union. For the union to claim in a one sided manner that this is “A notice of dismissal” is to ignore this background.

      “APU Wants To Act Together With People of Oita and Beppu As An International University ”

      “APU was established through the assistance from local residents. We aim to build a university where students study in Oita Prefecture and Beppu City and then go on to be active throughout the world. We would once again like to express our appreciation to all people of Oita prefecture and Beppu city for their continued support. We would like to ask for your continued cooperation in gaining an accurate understanding of this issue.”

      Last Words:

      I hope after reading APU’s statement, you can smell the fish loud and clear. Or the rats. At any rate, something is very rotten in the ken of Oita. There were too many witnesses to APU’s initial promise of renewable employment. A whole group of teachers and other witnesses cannot have experienced a mass hallucination, or psychotic episode. They lured all those teachers out to innakaville and now they’ve dumped them.

      Some points:

      1. Standardization has become a Rits management buzz-word. If we are standardized and homogenized, we are dehumanized and easily replaceable. You (most of you) too. The practice of requiring jokin and ninkisei to create materials for English programmes at BKC, for use by shokutaku (who will replace the former, since last summer Rits announced in a wonderful Orwellian document entitled “The Constructive Dissolution” that they were slashing
      the jokin scheme because it had been successful … ) is already up and running, and possibly a marker on the slippery slope to outsourcing for some parts of the language programme.
      We know they are considering how to follow this route at Kinugasa too; there has been talk of this for years, but they are ramping up the volume now. […]

      3. Economics. We know that APU is struggling, while Nero fiddles.The parent organization is building and buying and expanding like there’s no tomorrow. (And speaking of which, it is kind of them to consider the income of parents, while raising their fees.) What’s really going on? They are trying to plead hard times and economic exigencies to justify their non-renewable contracts. Let them publish their true financial accounts, and then we’ll talk. In the UK all companies are required to file them every year at Companies House. Management salaries too. We used to use those accounts as a basis for our management-union annual negotiations.

      4. Do they really believe it is all very lovely for us to have “lots of different teaching experiences” at different universities? We have heard this kind of crap said to us on numerous occasions by faculty and management. (“We believe that the educational work done
      at APU by the Senior and Junior Lecturers and non tenured faculty members will be useful when applying for other positions at APU or other universities after their contract has expired.”) In the immortal words of John McEnroe, guys, YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS. By the way, Rits will not hire lecturers who complete their contracts as hijokin for at least a year (in case they can make a Labour Commission case out of it and sue for tenure), and although they might be able to apply to be hired as ninkisei or tenured faculty, very few succeed. They recently raised the bar on most ninkisei positions by requiring under 35 with a PhD. And for language teachers, this only means “content” teachers of English.

      5. Let’s hear it for cultural relativism, and Ritsumeikan, that dedicated follower of fashion: “The non tenure system of employing faculty members is becoming a trend which is reflected in both the private and public universities in Japan .” OK, just because something is a cultural or an economic practice or a trend, does that make it ok? Are all practices necessarily progressive? What if they hurt people? […]

      6. I don’t know if PALE has any members who are teachers of other languages. In all the postings I have seen online, you never seem to consider them, but their jobs are the most vulnerable of all. They don’t even get a mention a lot of the time when we talk about new-style content programmes and introduction of ninkisei teacher for same. Their situation is beyond bad. And actually the APU fight is being carried forward by Japanese teachers of Japanese as a second language (to foreign students), so this is underlines the fact that this dispute concerns all of us educators — no matter in which language we disseminate that education. Plus it shows that Japanese educators can and do join unions in universities and
      struggle for their rights. Please talk to Japanese non-member teachers about APU struggles and gather solidarity.

      If you read this far, please don’t shrug your shoulders and say “shoganai”, it is all useless, they will win anyway. Not over our live bodies, they won’t. Sign the petition.

      Tina (chair, Rits U GU branch)

      PS APU teachers’ union is a different union from ours entirely; in fact it belongs to the same Kyosanto (Japan Communist Party)grouping as our own Rits U infamous In-House “yellow” Union, who should support their fellow unionists, but don’t. But we do.

    2. Japan Probe » Blog Archive » Japan News for January 4, 2007 Says:

      […] Debito has added Asia Pacific University to his blacklist of Japanese Univesities that foreigners would probably not want to work for. […]

    3. N. M. Ployee Says:

      Whoa, whoa, whoa. As an indentured foreign servant at the above mentioned university, I can tell you there are many reasons not to go anywhere near the place. After what happened to a University English Instructor in Korea(over his historical Dokdo/Takeshima website), I’m loath to include my name, but there are things people really need to know about that place. Number 1 is to STAY AWAY.

    4. Joel Says:

      Not to play devil’s advocate, but APU also hires foreigners as full-time tenured faculty (and staff) so it should be on the greenlist as well. Just to be fair

    5. debito Says:

      If Joel is willing to act as primary, quotable source by name as witness to APU’s tenuring ways (with, preferably, some numbers of how many tenured and in what departments), then of course I will Greenlist it as well. –Debito

    6. Joel Says:

      To follow up…

      College of Asia Pacific Studies
      Faculty List-APS

      College of Asia Pacific Management
      Faculty List-APM

      I would have to sit down count out the 5 year fixed term guys, but most of those Professors, Associate Profs and Assistant Profs are tenured. (However, new Assistant Profs from April will be called jokyo, and they will be strictly 5 yr fixed term)

      From my recollection we have 4 sen-nin shoku-in of 3 different nationalities. There was even an Aussie who was kacho-hosa.

      It may not be Disneyland, but it’s a lot better than some other places

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