Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”


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Hi Blog.  Turning the keyboard over to Michael Collison, who tells his tale of an employer, Interac, who apparently would not give him a break even when there was a death in the family.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


April 13, 2009

Dear Debito,

I have worked for Interac for 3 years 2006 04 to 2009 03. Some bumps along the way but usually not my fault. Anyway, my wife became pregnant with our second child in October 2008, great ! I also got a Letter of Recommendation from Interac praising my teaching work and thanking me December 2008 (attached).


About 3 months later on February the 11th 2009, during the night, my wife had some water leak, which isn’t uncommon. There are lots of fluid leaks during pregnancy. She called the hospital and was told to come for her prebooked appointment as scheduled on February 17th 2009. When she went I kept my phone with me during the lesson at Nakahara Junior High School in Hiratsuka, my main school, hoping everything would be fine. I was interviewing first year kids 1 to 1, there were only 3 kids left to interview and it was 15 minutes before the end of my last lesson of the day (each interview took 2 1/2 mins).

The phone rang !!

I’ve never had a phone call during a lesson before, but for my wife and unborn child I’m going to take the call. I did and my wife was heartbroken and in tears. She told me we had lost the baby.

I told her I was in a lesson and that I would come to her. I hung up the phone, apologised to the student telling him it was very important, and then finished his interview. After that I went to the classroom that the Japanese teacher was in and quickly explained that I had to go to the hospital because of my wife and unborn child. I went to the teachers room and explained everything I knew to a very nice third grade English teacher who translated it all into Japanese for the vice principal. They understood my reason for leaving.

So I ran to catch a bus, then a train, then ran to the hospital.

Once there I found out that the baby was still alive but had no water surrounding it. That’s when the hardest 3 weeks of my life started, (and I’ve had some hard times believe me) the baby survived that long.

The doctors wanted us to abort ASAP, that very day.

So that afternoon and night I was fighting a mental battle against doctors and nurses who were all saying that we should abort ASAP because the baby was doomed.

I went home as late as I could and started researching ‘PPROM’ (Premature Prenatal Rupture of Membranes) which is what this problem is called. I found many many cases in which the infant survived, and techniques to try.

Due to the stress of all this I went to work the next day, as my wife wished, and got the days mixed up, thinking it was Wednesday when it was Thursday, thus turning up an hour later than I should have. I missed 1 lesson but did the lesson in my free time. I also interviewed the 3 students I had missed, when I rushed off to the hospital, again in my free time.

That morning February 18th 2009 at aprox 8:30am, I recieved a call from Interac, a Japanese male from the Yokohama branch, speaking in English, asking why I had left school early the day before. I explained that there had been a medical emergency and that my wife was in the hospital and that we could be losing the baby. He told me that if I have any more medical emergencies to call Interac 1 week before the emergency to let them know in advance. He also said he would take a 1/2 day’s paid holiday because I left early.

Later at aprox 9:30am I recieved another call from Interac, a Japanese female from the Yokohama branch, again speaking in English, asking why I was late for work, again I explained the situation to a 2nd person. Interac took another 1/2 day’s paid holiday for being 1 hour late.

I expected someone I knew, the Hiratsuka trainer Joel Northan from Interac to call me and say ‘sorry to hear about your situation, please take some time off’, or at least ‘sorry to hear about your situation’. As he would call me often, sometimes just to chat and see how things were going at the schools, but especially if anything unusual had happened. No one ever called back.

The next 3 weeks were traumatic but I still went to work cheerful, had great lessons, and then spent the rest of my time researching medical procedures, at my wife’s bedside and taking care of our 1 year old son.

On Monday the 2nd of March I had to go to Interac Yokohama ( 神奈川県横浜市中区長者町5丁目85明治安田生命ラジオ日本ビル / 10F, Radio Nihon Building, 5-85, Chojamachi, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa) at around 4:30 pm for a meeting with Joel Northan (Trainer) and Satoko Aoki (Managing Consultant). It seemed to be for contract renewal.

They told me they would not give me another contract for 2009-10.

I asked them why.

Joel Northan said “Well, you left school early one day last week, and then you were late the day after”.

He then put 4 pieces of paper in front of me and I was told to sign them.

I asked if they understood why I left the school early and was late on the day after, and also if that was the only reason for not giving me a contract.

Joel Northan told me that they had a long list of problems with my work.

I asked him “Like what?” and “Did a school or the BOE complain about something?”

I was told it the schools or BOE had not complained. Then he told me that the Manager (presumably Akihiko Omata) had looked at the phone records and seen that I had made a lot of phone calls to the office, so he decided that it was evidence of lots of problems.

(Many times I had been told by Joel Northan and William Smith another trainer) to call the office much more, and to call over the smallest things to keep them up-to-date with details. I still didn’t like to call over trivial things like a school changing the time of 1 lesson, or schools not filling sheets out correctly).

Satoko Aoki told me that the Manager didn’t have confidence in me anymore and that I have to sign the papers so that they could pay me.

I told them that, as my wife was in the hospital at that very moment, I didn’t want to waste anymore time in the meeting and that I would read the papers at home, sign them and send them back.

Satoko Aoki was quite rude at this point and insisted that I sign them now. She told me that I couldn’t leave the room until I had signed them.

I was feeling quite sickened by their behaviour at this point so I picked up the papers, glanced at them and then put them into my folder and then into my bag.

I told them again that I would sign them at home and send them back.

Satoko Aoki was now rather angry, her face was red, slightly contorted and she was showing signs of shaking.

Satoko Aoki again and again said that I was not allowed to leave the room until I had signed.

After listening to this a few times and realising there was nothing more to discuss I stood up and told them I was leaving with the papers. I bidded them good-day and left. (Note see *** below)

I went straight to the hospital and that night my wife and I informed the doctor that we had decided to stop using the medicine which was preventing the onset of labour. The doctor told us that labour should begin around 48 hours later

I went to work as usual on Tuesday the 3rd.

On the evening of March 3rd, at around 6:30pm, I called Interac and asked to speak to a native English speaker (so as not to be misunderstood). I spoke to William Smith. I told him that I probably couldn’t go to work on the 5th as the baby was expected to die and be delivered that day, and that I would have to identify the body, as required by Japanese law. He told me that it was the first time he had heard about my situation and he sounded genuinely concerned. He told me to take the rest of the week off at least. I was thankful but told him I would go to work tomorrow and take Thursday off (expected birth date).

However at 11pm on the same night of the 3rd, my wife called and told me that labour was starting. So I, took my son to his grandparents and then went to the hospital. The baby died in the early hours of the morning. I called Interac as soon as the office opened to tell them that I couldn’t go to work, and to explain the situation. The baby was delivered at 10:48am, Wednesday the 4th of March.

We got to hold her. A little girl.

We had to arrange the funeral for as soon as possible. We could not book for Saturday and so booked for Friday.

I called Interac again and asked for a native speaker, again to avoid possible misunderstandings. I spoke to Joel Northan and told him I couldn’t go to work on Friday because I was going to the funeral. He told me it was fine and also said to apologise to my wife on his behalf as he didn’t know that she had been in the hospital when he informed me about my contract on March the 2nd.


After the funeral I had a chance to look at the papers that Joel Northan and Satoko Aoki tried desperately to get me to sign at that meeting on March the 2nd. Upon checking the 4 papers I found 1 was not for me, it was for Interac staff to fill in, 1 was requesting when I would like my final payment, 1 was requesting the same plus when I would like my penultimate payment.

However 1 paper (attached) stated:

‘THIS NOTICE is hereby made by ___________ (Employee#_____) on this _____ day of _____ , _____, to inform Interac of my resignation for the following reason:’ etc etc

Signature _________________ Date ______________’

So, on top of all the previous, they also tried to get me to sign a paper stating I was resigning without me even knowing it.


Extra notes –

2 months previously I was told that Interac were hoping I would continue my employment with them by Joel Northan.

I found out that Interac had lost the contract with the BOE in Hiratsuka for elementary schools for the 2009-10 year. The trainer involved has left Interac.

No-one ever called to apologise, the trainer and another trainer only apologised when 1 I called to tell them I had to take time off to identify the body, and 2 when I called to tell them about the funeral. Previously, they used to call me up at all hours about the smallest things.

About my teaching –

When I first started at Interac I was given, as my main school, what the BOE and teachers described as the worst school in the city. It probably was. Kids were smoking in the school, climbing out of second floor windows during the lessons and sitting on a 40 cm ledge smoking and talking in groups, sleeping in the class, punching teachers, bullying in the open etc etc.

3 years later the school is one of if not the best schools in the city, judging by the others I taught at. I could ‘reach’ every kid in the school, some for longer than others granted. Now the English level of even the first graders is far better than the 3rd graders from 3 years ago and almost every student in the school enjoys English lessons now. I walked into a bad atmosphere and spent every minute I was there trying to improve it through methods that Interac trainers and managers and many teachers don’t even know exist, like honesty, integrity, confidence, openess, friendliness, actually wanting to teach etc etc.

I’m not going to say I changed everything but I did what I could to improve things. There are some very nice teachers there who I respect, but at the student’s graduation ceremony this year I sat next to other teachers, head teachers, the vice principal etc and was very proud when a high percentage of the kids I’d known since their first year, walked up looking directly at me and bowed before receiving their certificates.

I will also send this to a union and to the Japan Times.

Feel free to contact me if you need anything else or if I have made some mistakes.  michael1 AT mopera DOT net

Thank you for reading,

Michael Collison.


142 comments on “Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”

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  • Michael, I am very sorry for your loss.

    As someone who is currently in the interviewing process for an ALT job with Interac, I am deeply disturbed.

    This is not the first bad thing about Interac I have heard, but it is certainly the most heartless. I now have true doubts now as to if I should continue communicating with them.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us.


  • This is terrrible! I’m so very sorry to hear Michael that at a time when you were to concentrate on your family and provide support and consolation for you wife, your Company did you wrong. This is so terrible. I can’t imagine how that must have been for you.

    I’ve been in Japan for around 4 years and have been working PT and two colleges and doing some private lessons. I went on an interview with Interac, and got the job for April 2009. Since then, I’ve been researching and debating whether I want to work for them. Guess what?

    I’ve decided to stay put where I’m at. How are you doing now by the way? Are you employed? Are you still fighting the good fight?

  • Michael,

    It has been some time since you wrote but, as I’ve just come across this now, I wanted to offer my condolences.

    I worked for Interac for 11 months. I’ve known some great teachers and a few good managers. Unfortunately most of the managers are pretty despicable.

    I loved working in the schools but I quickly learned that what Interac says and what it does are not the same thing. If you have a problem, Interac wants you to call the office about it — even if it’s minor — but nothing will happen except a black mark against your name. I’ve followed up with schools several times and discovered that Interac never even mentioned it to them (despite statements to the contrary from Interac staff). I had great relationships with the staff and teachers at most of my schools and it was in the end much easier to just speak to them directly.

    Early on in my (brief) career at Interac, I was offered a position at Keio University once a week. I was handed off to Brian McDonough (Curriculum Manager) to work out the details of the position. Amongst those discussions was an agreement upon the additional payment for these lessons and preparation time. In fact I talked to the branch manager (Nakamori), and to my MC (Jason Cottrell) and all assured me that I would get the prep time I needed. Both points were a lie. They never paid the additional university lesson wages, and I didn’t get the prep time agreed upon. It was great fun arguing with the branch manager and having her say “but look at all the free time you have in October” (5 months in the future). In addition, nobody told me until I had already agreed to do it that the Keio I would work at wasn’t even in Tokyo — it was a nearly 3 hour trip from where I lived — and, no, I couldn’t use my own transportation without absolving them of any responsibility (Employers in Japan are responsible for employees’ health while commuting).

    The final nail in the coffin was in the summer of 2008 when Interac wanted a new Worker’s Representative to change the paid holiday and maternity leave rules for the company (these can only be changed with the agreement of a union or worker’s rep) and the election was a complete sham. The worker’s rep didn’t even realize what he was into before it was too late. He’d been asked to write some comments about some rule changes (and then sign them before leaving). *After* that, the company phoned up employees one evening asking them to vote for the sole candidate in the election for worker’s rep. I was never called, however I spoke to a number of people that were and when they asked what the changes would be, the Interac staff informed them that they would send out a mailing to everyone after the election. So basically nobody could know what they were voting for, and the vote was not confidential so there were some concerns that not voting the way they were being pressured to could have consequences.

    Long story short, when the opportunity presented itself, I cut my losses and got out. The investigation into non-payment for Keio lessons never went anywhere. My wife wanted me to drop the worker’s rep dispute as Kevin Salthouse had called me at home to intimidate me. Nobody at Interac had ever called my landline — Kevin did, and it sent a message. Unfortunately, these are not honest businessmen and women. I had previously worked at NOVA — I had gone down with the ship and Interac actually managed to make NOVA look like a good company. Heck, compared to Interac, NOVA was a great company.

    Michael, I hope you got a good result out of things with Interac, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if you just got the run around like everyone else.

  • Firstly, my condolences to you and your family. I was recently fired as well. The reason, ‘it’s confidential’. I’m so sorry I didn’t read this thread earlier so that when The Alki woman call me in for the meeting I was prepared. I found after job that next day because I had a feeling they were gonna let me go. The new company is with Geos, a conversational school. I know they are all the same, but I’ll definately join a union this time around. Thanks for shareing and enlightening me at the same time.

    — I hope you don’t teach spelling too.

  • Hello, Michael.
    I don’t know whether you will receive this reply as it is such a long time after the thread.

    I hope life is treating you and your family in a much kinder and happier way.

    I was one click away from filing an application with Interac when I read your sad story.

    I have withdrawn my interest and notified my TEFL course provider (who put me in touch with Interac)of my reasons why.

    Thank you for sharing your story, painful though it must have been to do so. You have saved me from making a big mistake.

    Best wishes ….

  • NonInterac Dispatched ALT in Japan says:

    My love to you and your wife. I hope that you were able to start over. I’m married and living in Japan. I’m doing what I can to inform people about what illegal dispatch is doing, and how it is taking over prefectures. I’m hoping that potential ALTs will think twice. I hate working for dispatch but getting hired directly is extremely rare now. You may contact me at my e-mail address. I hope that someone will write to national newspapers and universities to prevent the advertising of dispatch companies. Something has to be done. I can’t find a single video about the problem on you tube! I would love to hear from you.

  • What my business teacher taught me. Always take a tape recorder with you to every meeting. Also get copies of forms you sign. If someone is pushing you sign something walk out but make sure as hell you have the recording of that meeting. If you can’t get a copy take out the mobile and take a picture of the original. Be ready for anything because the only person looking out for you is you.

    I am sorry to hear about the ordeal you had, especially during such a rough time.

    — Fully agree about recording everything. Get one of those pocket mp3 recorders and record everything official (even surreptitiously is submissible in court). Otherwise you WILL be caught out if promises or records are only verbal.

  • Someone asked the question whether they treat japanese workers the same way. The answer is yes. I’ve heard a lot of comments from wife who is teaching at a japanese junior high school in Tokyo. I, myself, was a ALT at a notorious school in Tokyo and I admit what was written is true till this day. Only recently, my wife was in distressed as a pupil in her school forced a female classmate to take a nude picture of herself and he posted it on the net. The poor girl didn’t come to school for 6 months as a result of it. And the boy doesn’t even give a hoot. I’m glad for the work that Debito does. It’s admirable.

  • Very sorry to read of this story. During my time with Interac I also had a terrible experience, although not quite as bad as this. I would advise anyone considering Interac to give it a wide berth. My schools were great, but the management members and policies of this company are rotten to the core.

  • I was recently invited for an Interac interview. After initially excitement has dissipated after reading this. I’m sorry for Micheal’s loss and it’s absolutely disgusting how Interac has dealt with the situation. I’m also disgusted by gaijinpot’s censorship. I’m now considering applying elsewhere for a job and I’ll make sure to tell them exactly why.

  • Ex-Interac guy says:

    So sorry for the people involved in this story.
    I have also had awful experiences with Interac. I urge you all. Do not work for Interac. I knew of their pros and cons before I worked for them and decided to try them anyway. It was a big mistake. They are cold and they certainly don’t care about their staff.
    The “everyone is replaceable mentality”.
    Well I am happy that I stood up to them and that they replaced me.

  • The cold treatment by the dispatch company is a result of poor and paradoxical immigration practices in GOJ. Basically the only NJ people interested in staying in Japan now are people with family ties- it not worth anyone else’s while. But when the family ties get in the way of the almighty company, all hell breaks loose.

    This is basically trying to treat the NJ like a Japanese for the obligation side of work, but not rewarding them the same.

    I was told by former employer-a 75 year old man-that it was not a Japanese custom (zzzzz) for fathers to be present at the birth of their children so all teachers had to keep on teaching. Ironically the younger Japanese secretaries disagreed and said it was just his custom, not a Japanese one, but they were both not long for the company.

    This really is just fascism or corporatism, not capitalism. Japanese companies have transferred loyalty from the Empire to them after WW2 so that Japanese cannot even prioritize the family they work to support as people in certain neighboring more traditional Confucian societies can.

  • I (and others) have said it before, but it bears repeating: If you are considering coming to Japan to work,in my experience, you simply cannot rely on contracts and conditions offered by companies such as eikaiwa chains and recruitment companies such as interac. I won’t even go near Gaijinpot because of the way they represent jobs and wages/conditions. Don’t come, honestly, unless you have a contract directly with the state. It’s not like even a few years ago. Wages have plummeted and the cost of living (already the highest in the world) is rising. JET programs are your best bet for conditions.

    Otherwise, you’de be much better off going to Korea or even China. You might at least save some money there.

    These are observations based on my personal experiences and those of friends and colleagues.

  • Hello,

    I am very sorry to hear about this situation and offer many many condolensces. I hadn`t known about this before, and have just joined Interac this past month. They fail to mention many “negative” things about their company. I am now worried. Were you able to get any justice about this situatuion?

    Best to you and your family

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Lisa #121

    Hi. I really admire your courage to work for the Interac. They have pretty nasty reputations for inhumane treatment of employees; their name became public in the news media in 2008 and 2009. Moreover, strikes and lawsuits against Japanese employers are usually taken negatively–just like heartless people and rightists denigrate hard-working teachers in the US and elsewhere. They treat ALTs like disposable, replaceable labor– just like thousands of profit-oriented charter schools treat young and new teachers (typically coming from Teach for America) like garbage in the US.

    I suggest you set your own criteria to size up the situation (let’s say, you have pay cuts for sick leave more than twice) so that you could make your choice to stick with them or walk out before it’s too late.

  • Sorry Loverilakkuma, but I disagree with you on this one. I don’t admire anyone for working at companies such as interact. In fact, it’s a little immoral to me. People who are prepared for the conditions and wages of companies such as interac are partly responsible for the ongoing degredation of foreign language teachers’ conditions in Japan. If people didn’t do the work, these companies would have to improve conditions. So, if anyone is getting mistreated at these employers: You need to either leave (and get the word out and encourage others to do so) or activate for unionisation etc.

  • Since the Interac thread has bounced up again, I’ll leave a gem here:

    There was a high school which Interac held the ALT contract to.

    But the ALT quit: the high school was without an ALT for months.

    I am very qualified, I sent my resume specifically for that job.

    They were extremely happy+desperate for me to start immediately.

    Then, I remembered all the bad things I had read about this firm.

    I wasn’t desperate for the job, so I sent the president this fax:

    “I will happily sign the contract your staff have sent me today,

    but only if you personally sign my contract which is as follows:

    I, president of Interac, promise to follow all the laws of Japan

    and to pay salaries without fail and without delay to employees.”

    Sounds pretty fair right? I sign his contract, he signs mine. Ha!

    Needless to say, the Interac president did not agree to sign that.

    So, of course, I did not agree to sign their contract. Thank goodness! 🙂

  • @MA:
    Good for you.
    A friend of mine, who is also an experienced teacher was also offered a job with them straight awayafter an interview. They were obviously desperate for good, reliable teachers. However, he asked for a pay commensurate to the cost of living and for the hours involved (it is a full time job, remember), and they refused so he didn’t sign for them. Unfortunately, many short sighted people do. They need to be called on this. It’s fairly obvious that the dispatch companies aren’t going to change of their own volition.

  • @MA (#124) I love that you put it in your contract and presented it to the president (even if it’s not true, I love the idea). As Debito wrote, foreigners fall too easily into the “polite Japan” trap and are putting themselves into bad negotiation positions.
    Doing the opposite, i.e. not playing the faux respect game and treating them like they deserve to, is of course only possible if you have options. And too many foreigners trying to live in Japan simply don’t have those.
    I like the idea of “pranking” job interviews, i.e. applying to some jobs you don’t really want, go there, and ask if you can speak to the Oyabun or how many LV bags their wives own.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @DeBourca, #123

    That’s fine. You’re right. I should have said “working with students to teach English,” which is exactly the reason people apply for TEFL jobs in Japan. “Working for Interact” sounds odd because people don’t work at the office for 40+ hours a week. Outsourcing is the most despicable form of labor practice that is detrimental to quality education. Interac is not much different from Walmart; outsourced teachers are being treated like animals in factory farming business, and getting paid even lower than teachers who are similarly demoralized at public and charter schools in the US. Both local and national governments should ban immoral dispatching companies from outsourcing teachers right away. Violating firms should be investigated, penalized, and suspended indefinitely.

  • Japan wants the respect it does not deserve. Similarly, people in Japan who have set up their own company expect respect.

    While I agree with Marcus that NJ teachers should not fall into bad negotiation positions through the faux respect game, it is much more cunning to simulate respect and flattery while simultaneously demanding more money and better conditions.

    It can even be used against them, e.g. Oh Shachou, you are so successful and powerful, I respect you so much…

    ….and therefore feel an increased salary will enable me to serve you so much better as it will guarantee my stability to serve you long time in Japan!

  • @Markus – Thanks. Totally true story. Perhaps some courageous soldier from their HR team will send Debito a note to back it up.

    One slight self-correction, my contract actually stated “I, president of Interac, promise to follow all the LABOR laws of Japan and to pay salaries without fail and without delay to employees.”.

    (To ask him to follow all the LAWS of Japan would have been a bigger request, going into his non-business life, that would have been harder for him to sign. Merely promising to follow all the LABOR LAWS should be something that any upstanding president would not be afraid to sign… unless he is a president that is known for not paying his employees on time and/or not paying his employees for the work they did.)

    Sure is funny that he refused to put his hanko on that “scary” promise. 🙂

  • @ MA, I am not surprised the J President above did not sign an agreement to obey the laws of Japan as Eikaiwa little Hitlers especially think they are a law unto themselves. It has been like this since the 80s.

    The mentality in Japan is that the government makes laws which only apply to government employees, and for the free market domain is “free” to ignore these laws as mere guidelines. The UK is getting like that too, thus e.g. government measures to alleviate unemployment are largely ineffectual as they are toothless to legislate over private corporations, but I digress.

    Thus the Saruhashi’s (Nova) Hemmi (atty, another eikaiwa president who ended up in jail), and other eikaiwa presidents (ASA salon etc) are always “surprised” when accused of wrong doing. Especially as they thought NJs have no rights as guests and are here to be exploited, with one contract for internal use and one contract for immigration purposes (e.g. showing the guranteed 250 000 yen a month when in reality there is no base salary).

    Conversely, these little men think they also can lord it over NJ teachers, threating to “report them to immigration” if they do not behave in the way they want them to. Quite often in reality the police or immigration are not really interested (one disgruntled J-colleague at work tried it on me but the local Koban didnt do a thing), but it is a common belief by a certain generation of Japanese that they have a direct line to some Gaijin Control Center, to be called to keep you the NJ in line if you do not make tea/work overtime/do not teach the lesson they want you to even if it breaks all TEFL principles/flirt with a student the president had his eye on/do not date that important corporate customer/etc

    Been going on since the Meiji era; a revolving door of NJ labor. The internet snitch sites are just one manifestation of this commonly held mindset that you the NJ are a guest for 3 months and after that, a worker with no rights at the beck and call of your “hoshounin”, an indentured laborer.

    What can you do about it? Fight fire with fire. An anonymous list of student complaints against the school faxed to head office/labor standards/or even immigration (there is a blacklist of schools which may prevent them from hiring/sponsoring NJ visas if enough peopel complain) will often work wonders and put these Little Hitlers on the defensive.

    A pity though; I had just wanted to spend time teaching. It does so poison ones Japan experience.

  • Michael Yamamoto-Atkinson says:

    I also have a wife with a high risk pregnancy and am not being renewed, I would like to share this experice and make it public knowledge once my contract is finished, anyone involved with this kind of thing, please reply or message me.

  • Go to your local Roudoushou and say one thing, “My company is going to make me go to Wello Work next month because my wife is pregnant.”

    Keep it simple, don’t get fooled into “answering question” which try to make it seem like there is some other reason for the non-renewal, just repeat that like a broken record, it is the most powerful sentence possible.

    You see, this sentence makes the Roudoushou people realize that unless the Roudoushou convinces the bad company to renew your contract, this gaijin is about to get free money from Hello Work.

    So, to avoid the chance of a gaijin getting free money from Hello Work, the roudoushou people will have subconscious motivation to call the bad company and push them to renew the contract for another year. And yes, non-renewal of a contract is equal, legally, to being fired.

    So, worst case, if the Roudoushou people don’t successfully change the minds of the bad company, then in the end you WILL go pick up 3 months of “60% of your normal salary” from Hello Work while you look for your next job.

    And on that note, hey c’mon fellow human beings with a heart, does someone here have an English conversation school that can hire a guy with a pregnant wife?

    Open your heart and contact Debito immediately, please, the baby is about to become the victim of a lot of bad chemicals caused by the stress of the mother worrying about future food.

    Please, somebody, help the baby inside the wife of Michael Yamamoto-Atkinson, please.

  • @ Jeff #133

    Not to derail the thread.,,

    A long time ago when I was a grad student in Japan, I had an interview with Interac.
    The interviewer asked me what I thought was the most important skill to have as a foreigner living in Japan. I told him it was the ability to speak Japanese.
    They showed me the door.
    Says it all about the eikaiwa organ grinder and monkey show.

  • concerned Interac employee says:

    Michael don’t give up please!
    You are a hero!
    What you’ve been through its unthinkable how people can do this to another human.
    Your courage gives hope to hundreds maybe even thousands of unfairly treated foreigners working in this ruthless game.
    As for Interac and the rest of these lowlife scumbag dispatch companies.
    When is the tipping point??
    When will Interac be held responsible for their illegal activities and their atrocities?
    (29.5 hour week)No pension /No health insurance in Osaka the union had to fight to get a tiny bit of money from interac for unemployment insurance.
    When will the government realize that with globalization eminent this kind of company is hindering their image and
    making it impossible for their foreign trade to flourish.
    What company wants to be associated with an image of human rights, worker rights violations and standard illegal practices?
    All these well educated foreigners are the wrong demographic to upset because then we go home tell everyone, start blogging, we get Japanese families who support us as we regroup and we think about things such as class actions.
    These bully tactics are unacceptable in Japan for other Japanese companies.
    Why does Interac get away with it?
    Let’s not forget our foreigner brethren Salthouse and the rest of these puppets.
    What are they doing?
    Is this the society they want their kids to grow up in?
    Lie/ cheat/ back stab / engage in illegal activities.
    Grow a spine!
    Its disgusting to say the least.
    They should have got Michael in that room and begged for forgiveness and sacrificed what ever to help him and his family!
    That’s the Japan we came for!
    The fairy tale Japanese company we thought existed that we work hard for you and you reward us with compassion and financial reimbursement.

    Since Koizumi these dispatch companies have been off the leash.
    They need to have at least an ombudsman.
    It happened with privatization of the post office.
    Lots of Postal workers gone overnight lost their lively hood.
    Tell all your Japanese friends and acquaintances.
    This is the new Japan.
    Do you want no future for your family your kids?
    If it happened to us it’ll happen in the rest of society.
    Whats next on the privatization chopping block?

  • I am so glad I found this post. I just went to the demo interview this past weekend, and one of the recruiters had mentioned this incident. That was kind of a red flag for me. Now that I have read the full story, I will no longer continue with Interac. A life comes before business always. 100% bad business ethics. It doesn’t matter what country or how you look. Everybody has a heart and should understand the situation. If I were you, I would had reported to your home country’s embassy or an international business bureau.

  • I passed the phone interview and they are in process for the next step. I’m glad I found this article to find out what’s in store for me. Sadly this is the only ALT job that got back to me. I don’t have any certifications. I really want to go to Japan and you know, work and living in Japan sounds like a great idea. Now I don’t know how to feel about this…

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Markins #137

    Why do you want to live and work in Japan?
    If you haven’t lived here before, then I’d be worried that everything you think you know about Japan might just be the official propaganda.
    Do something more meaningful, and more satisfying with your life.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Markins #137

    Well, good luck for your career. But I strongly suggest you do some research on English language teaching industry in Japan. Many of those teaching as ALTs are not much different from notorious TFAers(Teach for America) who are misled into believing that they can teach class with only 5 weeks of training. Even worse, their teacher training is way shorter than that. And many private ELT companies are behaving just like for-profit charter chain schools paying you at a minimum wage, putting you in the workplace for long hours, with no guarantee of health/medical insurance.

  • I’ve worked for several eikaiwa and ALT companies in Japan and can say that a lot of them are like this. They have a set, standardized, mechanical disciplinary procedure if you make any infractions. They usually don’t take into account the instructor’s viewpoint, or any justifications you might have for making these infractions. They can quite easily (and do) ship you out the door and get someone else in to do your job. They generally don’t care about you, your feelings, your personal situation and so on. All they care about is getting the next contract from the BoE (or in the case of eikaiwa, getting more money out of the customer).

    They generally come down hard on instructors that do anything that may impact on that – anything from docking your pay, reducing your bonus, to non-renewal or termination of contract. Often they keep a log (like they did to Michael Collison) of any little things you do wrong, such as not shaving properly, not cleaning your shoes properly, tie not straight and so on. If they want to discipline you, terminate your contract or whatever, they can and will use this against you too.

    Be aware of these things if and when you sign a contract to work for any eikaiwa or ALT company.

  • Loverilakkuma says:


    Interac is now splitting their dispatching business into 6 subsidiaries across Japan. Effective this year, the Japanese labor law mandates all employers of over 500 workers to put teachers into social insurance package. Obviously, this is an attempt to dodge their corporate accountability to put their employees– NJ teachers and staff–on mandatory shakaihoken and health/medical insurance by reducing the numbers of employees in each unit smaller than 500 employees.

    I would urge NJ (especially if you are young newcomers to Japan) to stay away from this corporation no matter what.


    See also, Japan Times article on Eikaiwa and private English school charter chains


  • Undisclosed says:

    I worked for Interac the year of the Tohoku earthquake. My apartment wasn’t far away from where thousands perished. It was damaged in the quake and Interac refused to pay me a final salery ..claiming I had to pay for apartment damage costs with it lol..a total joke and cowboy operation..that’s Interac.


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