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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 16th, 2009

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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.


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

    1. Al Says:

      That is some cold shit. They should be ashamed of themselves.
      My thoughts go out to you Michael, that’s a heartbreaking story. It might make you lose faith in kindness of man.

    2. Johnny Says:

      Actually this was posted on recently, and was censored due to the fact that Interac advertise on Gaijinpot.

      Gaijinpot seems to have a history of deleting negative comments about its advertisers, even when those advertisers are guilty of some pretty shabby treatment of foreign employees.

      This case takes the cake.

    3. Mark Hunter Says:

      Well, doesn’t this take the cake. First, Mike, so very sorry to hear of your loss. Surely, even in the twilight zone which is Japanese law, you have a case to sue with the signature documents alone. It would be hard to prove the office encounter took place, but you do have the papers they wanted you to sign. Best of luck with this, especially since you are grieving at the same time.

    4. Jcek Says:

      This is what happens all the time at dispatch companies, but this case seems to be much more severe. I can’t believe that somebody would do this to another person. I remember when my father was diagnosed with cancer and I was working for W5 Staff Services, he only had a few months to live at this time. They (staff) told me if I went home during a non-vacation period that my employment would be terminated regardless of the situation. Dispatch companies seems to be becoming more and more heartless when it comes to their employees personal situations. Michael, I hope you find another job soon, hopefully through direct-hire.

    5. norik Says:

      I have an idea-lets translate it in Japanese and send it to some major Japanese newspapers.
      I’d translate it myself, but probably next week, because I’ll be abroad for few days starting tomorrow.
      How about that?
      Only, I cannot send it to Debito for check,because my mails evidently don’t reach him.If it’s OK without a check…

      — Your mails don’t reach me at Please try again?

    6. Jake Says:

      My word. My condolences, first of all, for a terribly tragic and sad situation. With respect to the actions of Interac, few words come to mind aside from “disgusting”. I truly hope the union or the labor bureau can be of some assistance to you as the circumstances were obviously extremely unusual (could this possibly be categorized under unfair termination of a contract?). I also hope you can find a job working for someone directly, where you might find some more compassionate employers.

      One thing I hope is that word of this horrible situation gets out more extensively and puts some pressure on Interac and the industry as a whole, which, as far as I can tell, seems to thrive on such dubious treatment of its employees.

    7. Curt Says:

      If you have no problems with this, I would like to print this and teach it to my students. More and more people have got to know how Japanese employers treat foreign workers in this country.

      — Print away.

    8. Biliken Says:

      This is just about the most disgusting story I have heard about during the eight years I’ve lived in Japan. What a shameful company.

    9. TJJ Says:

      “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’s either insane, or doesn’t believe your story. I hope you find a way to punnish these people, and move on to a better job. Good luck with it all, I’m sure I speak for all when I say you have our support.

    10. Mark Says:

      “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.”
      This is classic. Notify us in advance of an emergency. Sigh. It’s like, when the big quake hits your town, avoid the quake.

      Interac’s contact form:

    11. Level3 Says:

      I have heard and personally seen a lot of terrible instances of
      eikaiwa management evil in 10 years here.

      This just may be the worst.. it’s beyond words (civil words anyway)

      I almost can’t even believe it.

      I truly hope (for the sake of their souls, and I’m not even religious)that the Interac peoples’ only response is to no longer give *anyone* a “Letter of Recognition” no mater how deserving,
      because such things could and should be used against them in court when they get around to eventually firing the great employee for some BS reason.

      Might I add that I’m pretty sure Japanese labor law specifically allows 3 days leave for death of an immediate family member. (Though how does this apply to dispatch workers? Anyone?)

      This needs to be in the Japanese news. In the papers. On Japanese TV. Let the taxpayers know how their money is being used in the schools, and what kind of heartless people are controlling it.

      I know part of becoming a trainer is signing away part of your soul in exchange for a slight salary bump, a sweet schedule, vacation time, and not having to actually teach (or really work) anymore, but this Joel, if he was forced to take THIS stance, for the sake of his own mental health, I hope he is rewriting his resume and planning to quit the company ASAP.

      If he wasn’t forced, well, could he at least tell us if he got a “Letter of Recognition” for toeing the company line and trying to trick the grieving Mr. Collison into resigning?

      They’re worth so much. >:[

    12. scott Says:

      Disgusting! But oh so familiar. Fortunately I have never been put in such a position. Shame on that “so-called” foreign trainer for not standing up for you. I’ve yet to meet a foreigner in Japan in an English teaching position of authority who isn’t full of you know what. They’d sell their granny if it benefited them! They certainly aren’t looking out for their fellow minority that’s for sure.

    13. Norrik Says:

      After reading this, I’m just getting sick of teaching English here in Japan. How cold!

    14. mameha Says:

      Well, we are only hearing one side of the story here.

      It would interesting if an Interac employee gave their side of it here. No doubt they will be informed of this webpage several times this week. If no response comes then that will speak volumes.

    15. Kane Says:

      Hi All

      Appalled to read the above…….but not surprised as I have a friend that was also treated like garbage by Interac. Best thing we can all do is to spread the word and encourage the growth of companies that value education combined with basic human rights. Something in between JET and Interac would be an ideal mix.

      Anyhow, I have mailed chiba1 at interac dot com and wait to see whether any response will be forthcoming.

    16. Johnny Says:

      I have no doubt that Interac make Gaijinpot take down any criticism of them with threats to pull advertising.

      Easier to silence people than plead your case.

    17. Mike Says:

      Dude I had some shiot like that happen to me. Its messed up and I feel for you. I tell you what, it might happen again, but if it does, somebody will get pounded, then hell get his resignation.

    18. snowman Says:

      Why the hell does anyone actually work for this “company”? I guess the “company” must be full of unsuspecting fresh off the boat young foreigners who don’t know any different. This has just got to be widely publicized.

    19. JapanDave Says:

      I’m sorry to hear of your great loss and moved by your support for your wife at this time. I beg the question- Although I think you deserve some sort of cash award (dont know the right terminology) for your unfair dismisal- Why the hell would you want to continue working for Interac? Dispatch teaching hurts all us teachers here in the long run. Have you considered directly approaching the school you were working at for a direct contract. It is possible they would hire you.

    20. TJJ Says:

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

      Having read of many people’s experiences here in Japan, it seems like situations such as the above are relatively common. For some reason, some Japanese people seem to think they possess special police powers over foreigners. Do these people treat other Japanese the same way? I would be interested to know.

    21. Asterisk Says:

      My condolences on the death of your baby daughter.

      I am posting also just to add, for the topic and the group, that I hear it is quite common for people with authority in Japan to pressure and threaten subordinates to sign things.

      This is often because in Japan, the written signature or hanko will be proof in itself. Unlike common law systems, where a fact-finder will look beyond the written terms to see if there was a valid exchange (so-called “consideration”), in Japan there is no such notion.

      Signed documents can be challenged, but it is often difficult to overcome the presumption that if you signed it, you “agreed”. Duress, undue influence, mistake, fraud can of course be brought in to challenge. But, as any longtime resident here might tell you, there is one hurdle on that test for foreigners, isn’t there?

      I believe from personal experience that the threat of not being paid unless one signs something unfavorable is quite common. Also, that employers write their own labor laws, in contravention to what the Japanese people promised the Allied Occupation in 1947 (rule of law).

      But this is not a moment for the nastiness of day-to-day.

      I hope you find comfort in the small visit of a tiny baby, your young daughter, who struggled long and hard but could not stay with you.

      For a reason not knowable to us in this life, she cannot walk
      God’s good earth with you through the years.

      But she always remains a blessing from God and I am sure is with Him.

    22. Lisa Says:

      I posted this on my blog once I saw it on a forum earlier this month. I have several readers who are considering coming to Japan to teach so hopefully they think twice before going through Interac.

      I hate to say this but I wasn’t at all surprised by the fact that this came from the Yokohama branch. A few people I know, myself included, had some rather unpleasant experiences with Aoki.

    23. Giant Panda Says:

      My condolences on the loss of your daughter. This would be hard enough to go through without your employer on your back and losing your job at the same time.

      I wish there was something I could do to help in terms of legal advice, but from what I can glean Michael is on a one year fixed term employment contract, and works for the school on a dispatch basis. The contract has only been renewed twice, and the company decided not to renew it a third time. Unforunately there is not much you can do, legally speaking, unless the contract has some kind of clause which makes renewal dependent on something other than the company’s discretion, or the contract has been renewed a significant number of times. Thousands of Japanese contract workers are facing the same situation.

      By the way, there is no guaranteed “condolence leave” in the Labor Law either. The company’s Work Rules often provide for it though.

    24. elena Says:

      From a comment:

      ““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’s either insane,” – finally someone has noticed that. I do beleive many of these people are indeed insane, which does not make the situation easier. Well, maybe insane is too strong, though maybe correct, but at least the person was in the mode of “automatic conduct” and did not understand what he was saying in the least.

      And please, be assured that this is the way they treat Japanese employees and Japanese employees usually accept this – I recall reading in Nikkei how a father who belonged to an executive committee of a major Japanese firm instructed his daughter who was about to join the company’s upper level that everything personal, which means “EVERYTHING” literally, she should leave at home when she goes to work, and that generally bringing personal things to work “kojin-no tsugo-no mochikomi” should not be tolerated from the employees as well… It might be a good idea to try to find laws that are realtaed to this, but no external laws however strict are going to change what’s in their heads, don’t you think?

      I’m sure that publishing the story in Japanese is not going to help, they will just say “shikata-ga nai”, but on the other hand I beleive that telling private people, or maybe even students in the classroom and trying to shake them out of the “automatic reasoning” mood and informing them that humanitarian issues do exist and are valid and pertinent to human life – is something to be done as much as possible. I’m doing that all the time, and I can see minute but perceptible results in my immediate environment.

      My sincere condolences on the loss of the little daughter!

    25. Japanism Says:

      I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

      You should make a video and post it on youtube, images of you and your wife and your suffering will have a much stronger impact than words alone. Whilst you may have little recompense from a legal standpoint people should know about the situation.

      Interac has a terrible reputation as it is. You should get your story translated PROPERLY and send it to every BOE that interac deals with.

    26. MJ Says:

      This is a very sad story but unfortunately this is the state of English teaching in Japan these days.
      There are so many people willing to do the job that you are very expendable – lots of people looking for few jobs means they could replace you very quickly.

    27. Paul Says:

      This sort of treatment should not be allowed to continue. All of us who are reading and posting on this page should not let it lie. Contact Interac and let them know that you know about this, and that you will be sure to make it as widely known as possible. If they get 50 to 100 calls, they might take notice….

      Can’t hurt to contact media outlets too. This exact situation is a prime opportunity for foreigners at the mercy of such companies to become part of the public eye.

    28. Glenski Says:

      Level3 wrote:
      “Might I add that I’m pretty sure Japanese labor law specifically allows 3 days leave for death of an immediate family member. (Though how does this apply to dispatch workers? Anyone?)”

      Actually, the English version of the labor laws doesn’t mention this for a family member. However, Article 39 talks about ***paid*** leave for time off in Michael’s situation:

      “a worker shall be deemed to
      have reported for work during periods of absence from work
      for medical treatment for injuries or illness suffered in the
      course of duties, during periods of absence from work for
      child care leave prescribed in item 1 of Article 2 of the Act
      Concerning the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of
      Children or Other Family Members Including Child Care
      and Family Care Leave or for family care leave prescribed
      in item 2 of the said Article, and during periods of absence
      from work for women before and after childbirth pursuant
      to the provisions of Article 65.”

      Gotta love the bit about “call us a week in advance of an emergency”. Someone lost a heckuva lot in the translation! Does Interac have a time machine? Would love to hear from that employee what he was trying to say.

      Level3 also wrote:
      “I have heard and personally seen a lot of terrible instances of
      eikaiwa management evil in 10 years here.

      This just may be the worst.. it’s beyond words”

      Sorry, but Interac is an ALT dispatch agency, not an eikaiwa. Doesn’t make this incident any better, though. Just clarifying a point.

    29. let`s talk Says:

      You need a lawyer and a union.Your case is strong.The letter of resignation could save them one-month salary.The letter of resignation also means Interact is not non-renewal you.They wanted you to quit.In this case they don`t need a reason for non-renewal.Whatever reason they will write now does not count.At the first place it was an attemp of resignation, not non-renewal.A dispatch contract can be renewed unlimited times.After three years of working at the same place, the school can offer a direct employment.But if not, the dispatch contract can be renewed again.Non-renawal without proper written(!)reason (that was not given in this case) is illegal.They must pay an average salary for all the time plus compensation for moral damage.Surely they will not do it without court ruling.

    30. Paul Says:

      If anybody does translate Mr Collison’s letter to Debito would they be kind enough to post it on the website. I would really appreciate it.

    31. kG Says:

      Regarding the censorship of this subject on Gaijinpot… are the owners of that forum now JapanToday who were Tokyo Classified now Metropolis or vice versa?

      Can anyone please clarify?

    32. Ken44 Says:

      The best thing to do is NOT make a career out of teaching English here. English teaching in Japan is fine for those just out of college and who want to spend a year abroad but otherwise forget it. Dispatch companies, language schools, universities ect. you’re disposable no matter where you work. [overgeneralization deleted]

    33. Paul Says:

      Censorship on’s forum as well. There was an Interac thread going on over there (full of people trying to come over to Japan via Interac)so I posted this info. My post was deleted.

    34. The Friendly Lion! Says:

      While Interac’s conduct raises lots of questions, many Foreign employees in Japan should really take a look at Japanese Labor Law. And stories of how terminations work. Bringing people into a room and asking them to resign is par for the course in Japan.

      That said, recent labor law changes have been extended to certain classes of contract worker. Perhaps Michael’s case allows for redress in court?

    35. Tony D Says:

      “Why the hell does anyone actually work for this “company”? I guess the “company” must be full of unsuspecting fresh off the boat young foreigners who don’t know any different.”

      The simple fact is people want to go to Japan for whatever reason, and these companies are the easiest way to do it. The people I know who work for Interac all tried for JET first but were knocked back, so Interac was another chance for them to go to Japan. Nobody complains because it’s essentially “if you don’t like it you can leave, there’s other people waiting to take your place”.

    36. Rick Sprit Says:

      Time to go home, brother.
      I’m sure you didn’t grow up in a developed Western country and get a better higher education than most Japanese people could ever dream of so that you can go move to some country where you’re going to be treated like some slob who snuck in on a turnip truck.
      Japan is a blast for a few years when you’re in your 20’s, but the B.S. gets too stale to stay there long term. I had my fun there for a handful of years, but your story is an extreme example of the same Japanese sentiment that woke me up from the fun and sent me back home where I ultimately belong. They don’t really want us there long-term anyway. They want us to come over for a year or two, sip some green tea, visit some temples, then buzz off back to gaikoku and tell everyone how unique and enchanted Japan is. If we stay longer than that, we might learn that their poop smells bad, too, and they don’t want that.
      So, time to head home. Your wife will love it there, trust me.
      All my sympathies for losing your child.

    37. Paulo Says:

      >your story is an extreme example of the same Japanese sentiment that woke me up
      >from the fun and sent me back home where I ultimately belong. They don’t really want
      >us there long-term anyway. They want us to come over for a year or two, sip some green
      >tea, visit some temples, then buzz off back to gaikoku and tell everyone how unique
      >and enchanted Japan is. If we stay longer than that, we might learn that their poop
      >smells bad, too, and they don’t want that.

      Fantastic commentary Rick. Presumably making racist statements on an anti-discrimination site is something you consider smart? Or does lumping an entire nation of people together under a single stereotypical attitude not count as racism these days unless it’s directed at non-Japanese?

      Debito – disappointed that you haven’t commented on this one.

    38. Asterisk Says:

      >your story is an extreme example of the same Japanese sentiment that woke me up
      >from the fun and sent me back home where I ultimately belong. They don’t really want
      >us there long-term anyway. They want us to come over for a year or two, sip some green
      >tea, visit some temples, then buzz off back to gaikoku and tell everyone how unique
      >and enchanted Japan is. If we stay longer than that, we might learn that their poop
      >smells bad, too, and they don’t want that.

      To me, I read it so that “extreme” was the operative word. There is unarguably a sentiment out there, and in the extreme sense, it’s as the poster described.

      I would go so far to suggest that the government actually also keeps tabs on how well it has done with that revolving door (one of the few left in Japan). And that certain businesses, like Interac, rely on this flow.

    39. Kevin O'Leary Says:

      It’s cold of them and of course Im sorry to hear about the loss of Mike’s precious daughter.

      I think in some areas a little more competition between companies will make the shape up a little more. I notice that BOEs give quite a lion share of these contracts to only 2 or 3 companies in a region. This is recipe for “we are going to be like this, because we can” attitudes by dispatching employers. But I heard a few companies say that if you are going to take a sick day call inform them a week before.

    40. norik Says:

      While outside Japan, I found an article, which I think could put that Aoki in jail for long time.
      “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.{…}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.”
      This in Japanese is called kankin, here’s the article with details:

      Basically it says that if you stop someone from leaving certain place by physical means or by threat it is illegal restraint.Even if you hamper other person’s freedom of actions it is considered criminal act.
      I’ve read before similar cases, when someone is in certain company/beauty salon’s office and they are trying to force him/her to sign a contract for some very expensive service, even on a lease.This was categorized as “kankin”,but it was long time ago and I couldn’t find a link. Hope the above information can be of help.
      Sorry, my English is not so good.

    41. J Says:

      First off, my condolences to the family.

      Having been an Interac employee and knowing some of the people involved, I find it hard to believe. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I can only hope that something was seriously miscommunicated and that’s the explanation for what happened. If not, there’s something seriously screwed up.

      I will admit that now and again, I share #32’s feelings. I know lots of wonderful people here, but I do get the impression that institutional Japan’s regard towards foreigners does seem to be what he described. But that’s neither here nor there in this post.

    42. Steve Says:

      The reality, is that as an employee in this country, your rights are denied to you for the most part. The Japanese themselves have to put up with a lot more sh#t than we do, one school that I used to work at made their juku staff work through until 1am and were harassed constantly. They were made to work twice as long as I had to too. The system is set up in such a way that people are made to accept, that without the company, they would not have job. True, but without staff to do the job, they’d have no company; that’s the trade; we provide our labour, skills, knowledge, and they provide us with a salary. That is at least the case everywhere else and it is clear to all; but not in this country. Your work is never appreciated and you are made to feel expendable. I think it is one of the ways that they create this controlled, orderly society. After all, Japan has largely only been able to compete economically because it makes its workers work more than others and so by exploiting (ripping off) its own workforce (people), it has been able to compete in the car and electronics/technology sector against American, Korean, and others. No doubt Interac is a sh#t company, but from what I have read, this Akihiko had a lot to do with this. So maybe these are the conditions that Interac has to operate under. It seems to me that when it comes to the Japanese workplace, almost everyone has few rights; I heard that my previous employer didn’t like that I went to the toilet to take a piss once a day, and also didn’t like it that I went to the city every other weekend and told me that they would prefer it if I didn’t. There are some good employers out there, but in my opinion, the general rule seems to be what I have described.

    43. Joe D. Says:

      Hi Michael,

      First and foremost, I’m very sorry to hear of your loss. My wife and I also lost a child for similar reasons in the 2nd trimester. There are few things more painful than the loss of a child. Thankfully we lived in Canada when it happened and my employer was extremely gracious in giving me paid compassionate and bereavement leave, and that is typical of companies here.

      The folks at Interac should be deeply ashamed to say the least. Frankly if I were in Japan I would help translate and send your story to every existing BOE office Interac does or wants to do business with. In a country with an extremely low birth rate that supposedly cherishes children and family, that a firm, regardless of industry would act in such a mean-spirited manner is unconscionable to say the least. That Joel Northan and Satoko Aoki acted so unreasonably and in such mean-spirited manner in the meeting at which you were told you’d lose your job says much about their character. Sadly, I think that many folks in Japan have been subject to this type of abuse and lack or reasonable compassion from employers.

      I encourage you to work not only with the English press in Japan, but also the Japanese newspapers and TV stations to make your case public to the Japanese public. Common sense and reason weren’t forthcoming from Interac and the company’s (and the responsible individuals) incredible rightly deserves to be made public.

      Best of luck. As a tangent, I recommend that unless you want to spend your life “fighting the system” in Japan and want a better place to raise your multicultural children that you leave Japan.


    44. weston Says:

      Even before reading this trajic account of your suffering, there was nothing about what interact, the Japanese, and the other corporation dispatch services do which could have surprised me.

      Thank you for your courage and thank you for not suffering in silence. You tale needs to be told… again and again. My heart goes out to you and your family.

      To all the others who may be suffering in silence: step up and tell your stories. The foreigners overseas who are willing to come to Japan under any circumstances – no matter how abusive – need to know what they are getting into by signing up with the corporate dispatch companies. Please post your stories.

      I think this one needs to be told to the Japan Times and other newspapers. Try posting it on too. There is a huge community of gaijin who read that blog regularly. Try giving it to Let’ there is a sympathetic audience there.

    45. AML Says:

      Just an update. Joel at interac has in in fact quit. He left at the end of march.

      He stated “personal reasons” and this could be one of them.

      He does after all have a heart!

      Or it could have something to do with loosing the hiratsuka contracts?

      I still work for interac, “maxceed” (or is it selnate??) 😉

      and i havent had any major problems with them.

      They have even started unemployment benefits!!

      However, I do recomend not puting all your eggs in one basket with them…

    46. Jim Says:


      Very sorry for your loss Michael. I cannot imagine the pain you and your wife went through-and for you to have to go into work and act as if nothing had happened.

      One issue that has not been addressed here is the ulterior motives Interac had for making you resign. I think they were using the day you took off and the day you came in late as their only pliable excuse to get rid of you. I don’t know what you were earning from them, but they probably just want to bring in someone for a lower price. They thought you would take this lying down and just leave without a trace.

      By the way, you said you didn’t sign the papers they wanted you to sign, so are still working for them?

    47. Sean Says:

      What a horrendous story! I knew Interac had a bad reputation but that is far too much to have to put up with.

      To inform as many people as possible I think (and Facebook for an English version) would also be a good place to inform Japanese people about what happened.

    48. Chris Says:

      I have just telephoned the BOE at Hirazuka, from what they tell me Interac still has a contract for outsourced ALTs (Interac is not the only company). I also asked them if they knew anything about the case and they said NO. Interesting. I spoke to the Board of Education Shido-ka 指導課 which is in charge of the contract. They gave the typical head in the sand reply about “it has nothing to do with us”. I think we need to put some pressure on them to look into the case.
      Their number is 0463-35-8120.

    49. Adrian Jones Says:

      I sent a PM to Michael,after my reply to his post on Gaijinpot was deleted,I was very angry about this getting pulled as I had a similar experience with a children`s eikaiwa`Kitty Club`,when my mother passed away last August :
      my reply to Michael was to tell of my experience [self censoring the name of the company,as they advertise on Gaijinpot] and providing links to the union who helped me [],I was disgusted that my reply was deleted by Gaijinpot.
      I think some good points have been made on here,why would Interac need a signed resignation if what they were doing wasn`t illegal ! I think you`ve got a good case Michael.
      I have asked Gaijinpot for an apology for pulling my post,I considered it in extremely poor taste,I also asked if they were now censoring links to unions,guess what,they pulled my post yet again !

    50. Johnny Says:

      Gaijinpot is definitely not No.1 for foreigners in Japan, given the way that they continually censor posts that expose companies that treat foreign workers poorly.

    51. Charles Says:

      I am very sorry for your loss, my heart goes out to you and your wife. I almost ended up joining that company, but some friends talked me out of it as I heard some very troubling stories about them. I heard they don’t usually hire Blacks, so I thought, why should I work for a company that hates me because of my skin color, but at the same time is willing to exploit me. No Way! There has to be some way we can bring this to the medias attention.
      This kind of atrocious behavior should never, ever be tolerated on any level! I’m so angry now! Never give up the struggle for human rights!

    52. Arudou Debito Says:


      Hi Debito

      I received this email from Interac a couple of days after asking them for an explanation related to the events described in your blog. It’s a fairly standard company non-explanation. I guess they deserve some credit for bothering to respond, although it is anonymous, so I guess no-one dared to put their name to it. I just hope that they responded to Michael as well to offer an official apology. Email and rough translation below:

      2009/4/21 Interac Info

      [SENDAIBEN] 様


      Thank you for your enquiry. We would like to apologise for the worry and concern we have provoked.


      We would also like to offer our condolences for the loss of Mr Collison’s child.


      We would like to explain quickly, although we are not able to comment further as there are privacy issues involved.

      ○ 2009年3月2日の時点において、同氏と面談を行った弊社従業員は、

      During the meeting in question, our staff member, while aware of the hospitalisation of Mr Collison’s wife, was not fully aware of the situation as we had not been informed directly by Mr Collison.

      ○ 従いまして、同氏雇用契約の非更新は、上記とは無関係に総合的かつ公平に

      Mr Collison’s non-renewal had nothing to do with the above, and was a decision reached in a fair and equitable manner.

      ○ 弊社は同氏との真摯なコミュニケーションを通じ誤解を解き、今後同様の事態が

      We regret the miscommunication between ourselves and Mr Collison, and will take steps to ensure similar incidents do not occur in the future.


      Thank you for your further support.



    53. jjwalsh Says:

      I am so sorry to hear of the loss for you and your family. We too lost our twin boys at 5 months along in a similar way with my waters breaking too early. I hope you and your family are able to move past this horrible event.

      Of course, it doesn’t help when you don’t have the support of your employer, in fact the opposite happened and you were punished for something that should have been understood with sympathy and kindness.

      In my case, I was fortunately under a tenured position so I was treated more than fairly for the time I had to take off from my teaching position, at a university here in Hiroshima, to be cared for in hospital. But my husband had some trouble taking time off with his university despite having tenure- I think for husbands like yourselves- no matter what the family situation, if it is not directly happening to YOU then the expectation is for you to fit it in around your teaching schedule.

      I have also heard good and bad reports over the years about Interac, they are not well known for treating staff fairly- everyone from the office staff to teaching staff I have talked with over the years have reported that. There are definitely some eikaiwa schools that are better than others in terms of taking a human approach to management.

      Eikaiwa schools I have heard only fair reports of treatment from workers so far (in my over 13 years in Hiroshima) are: YMCA, David English house and Berlitz. I would suggest applying with one of these schools if you are still in need of a position.

      Warm Regards,
      Joy (jjwalsh)
      (Long term Hiroshima resident and editor
      (parenting issues blogger)

    54. Michael Says:

      Jim – Ulterior motives.

      I had a call last week from Kevin Salthouse at the Tokyo branch of Interac. He said he’d recieved a letter (the above) which I’d sent to Interac’s parent company, Selnate U.S.A. He asked me to meet with him. He told me he was very sorry for what had happened and that he thought there were some points he needed to address.
      I took this as a jesture of good faith and so me with him on Monday 20th of March.
      Kevin Salthouse with Denis Cusack first of all apologised for what had happened, then told me he had 2 areas he wanted to discuss *1- my work situation *2-the way things had been handled (1+2 shown below).
      He first asked me to explain again in my own words everything that had happened, even though he had a copy of the original letter in front of him.
      I obliged and spent around an hour explaining the whole difficult story and events.
      As soon as I finished his demeanour changed and I was confronted with what I would call ‘Interac Man’. In about 10 minutes he summed up and finished the meeting with:
      *1-It was handled badly and Interac would like to donate JPY100,000 to a charity in my name.
      *2-that they had to cut the number of teachers in Hiratsuka from 6 to 5.
      He then said that I was chosen because of my attendance record. I asked him for details. He said that I had called the office at lunchtime on May 2nd 2008 and told staff I had been late that morning (that’s 1 year ago, and doesn’t sound genuine at all, for me to call at lunchtime and tell them that I had been late that morning).
      He then said the company could not transfer me to another city because a. I didn’t have a degree and b. my japanese wasn’t good enough.
      I asked him if he knew how good my Japanese was, he said he didn’t know. He then said Interac Yokohama had said my Japanese was very bad. I have never spoken to Interac Yokohama in Japanese as they always speak English.
      NB. Other AET’s at Hiratsuka don’t have degrees, my Japanese is better than some and not as good as others. That includes others who are worse at Japanese without a degree.

      Kevin Salthouse and Denis Cusack didn’t once mention or apologise for the attempted forced ‘voluntariy resignation’, the behaviour of Aoki or anything else in a realistic manner. it was just a farce.

      If I had any doubts before, thinking maybe it was a miscommunication or misunderstanding, I know know that they were and still are fully aware of what happened and that it is being covered up, along with their motive.

    55. Philip Says:


      I have had dealings with both these chaps at Interac head office a few years ago and, of course, with Interac itself when I was employed. Unfortunately, thse two are not the ones who pull any real authority or power in the company; imagine them as foreign puppets bought out and used by higher Japanese management. They are the type who are ‘just doing their job` without much heart or ethical thought. This is no excuse for their behaviour, of course.

      Michael, keep fighting. I think you are gaining a groundswell of support among the general readers of this site and others. I have been attaching this link to emails and my facebook.

      Keep us posted.

    56. Adrian Jones Says:

      Hi Michael,

      Seriously,this sounds like Interac are in the sh*t,please get some advise from Freeter union as I suggested before [you could try the General Union but they tend to want a whole years subscriptions up front],make an appointment to talk to Mr Kikuchi at Freeter Union or Tel 03-3373-0180 Mobile 090-8562-7953 Freeter also employ an interpreter Ms Risa Tokunaga who I would recommend sending an email to [] outlining your case,it`s not going to cost anything so I would recommend doing this first.
      I would`ve taken that meeting with Interac as a sign of good faith that they wanted to make amends for this whole situation,although after reading your post that`s obviously not why they did it,they are clearly terrified of the bad publicity,[did you tape the meeting ?],I would recommend getting as much proof as possible.That resignation letter is priceless and may well be the item which really drops them in it,also as Norik mentioned, preventing you from leaving the room during the meeting with Satoko Aoki was highly illegal,make sure you mention that to the union.
      Having been through a similar situation last year,one thing that may happen is that Interac try to smear you by making up stories and gossip [at my previous school as soon as I got a union involved they did this,they said I threatened to kill the managers baby and didn`t want me teaching in case I kidnapped any of the children,they even lodged these and other lies on a seven page document at arbetration at the government building in Shinjuku ! ] judging by your post it sounds like they are already twisting the truth to fit their agenda,be careful and get some advise from a union or a lawyer.

    57. Metropolis fan Says:

      To KG

      Gaijinpot is run by G-plus media who also own Japan Today (which they acquired from Metropolis 2 years ago)

      Metropolis is not related to these guys and does not run forums.

    58. Michael Says:

      In response to the email from Interac to Debito –

      [○ 2009年3月2日の時点において、同氏と面談を行った弊社従業員は、

      *1*During the meeting in question, our staff member, while aware of the hospitalisation of Mr Collison’s wife, was not fully aware of the situation as *2* we had not been informed directly by Mr Collison.]

      *MY POINT* –
      *1* After the meeting in question I was told by Joel Northan that both he and Aoki were unaware that my wife was in
      the hospital at the time of the meeting, *2* despite my telling the company on 2 different occasions to 2 different
      Kevin Salthouse confirmed *1* + *2* in a meeting on 20th of March.

      [○ 従いまして、同氏雇用契約の非更新は、上記とは無関係に総合的かつ公平に

      *3* Mr Collison’s non-renewal had nothing to do with the above, *4* and was a decision reached in a fair and
      equitable manner.]

      *MY POINT* –
      *3* If it had nothing to do with ‘the above’ why would they use that as their number 1 reason?
      *4* Does ‘fair and equitable manner’ mean the 2nd set of reasons that Kevin Salthouse gave on April 22nd when he told me
      *A* I had called Interac on May 2nd 2008 at lunchtime to tell them that I had been late that morning?
      *B* That my Japanese is not good enough and
      *C* that I don’t have a degree.
      The lateness is possible but is almost 1 year ago.
      The statements A+B are false considering my Japanese is better than other Hiratsuka AET’s who also don’t have

      [○ 弊社は同氏との真摯なコミュニケーションを通じ誤解を解き、今後同様の事態が

      *5* We regret the miscommunication between ourselves and Mr Collison, and will take steps to ensure similar
      incidents do not occur in the future.]

      *MY POINT* –
      *5* The definition of ‘miscommunication’ is not-
      Coercing and ordering me to sign forms which I was falsely told was to enable their office staff to pay me my due
      monies, without mention of one actually being a resignation form.
      Telling me over and over again that I could not leave the room until I had signed all forms.

    59. john k Says:


      If you need a name of a very good lawyer, I can recommend one. I used them, they are extremely good. They speak both English and Japanese. They are Based in Osaka though.

    60. Johnny Says:

      I got the same response that Sendaiben did. Sounds like they have been taking a lot of heat over this one.

      Michael, if you wish to sue them, I will be happy to contribute.

    61. let`s talk Says:

      100,000 yen compensation for what they did? How much would they calculate their own job lost because of the lost kid? They should calculate it to 100 hundred and only after that they can say their offer.I agree with people here.You need a lawyer and a union.

    62. KG Says:

      Slightly off topic but I do think valid to the general topic about treatment of NJ’s in J-land…

      Metropolis fan: Thanks for the clarification.

      So on one hand they (GPlus Media) as Japan Today wish to be a credible news source and on the other as Gaijinpot dot com they claim to be the ‘No.1 for foreigners in Japan’ yet censor links detrimental to their sponsors in effect selling out by the censoring of any negative comments regarding Interac, links to unions and was is not the case with Gaijinpot when the NOVA fiasco first came to light that they deleted all discussion?

      Debito – as you have a tad more credibility than any of us mere users could you have a word with GPlus media or are they akin to the Mainichi and thus any negative image of life in Japan is deemed inappropriate?

      After all surely all of us dwindling NJ’s should be on the same team and ignorance can only be eradicated through awareness.

      on-topic: Michael fight this for everything… I understand that Japan is not elsewhere but if you were treated so in the States then you would have so much backing you up… you could claim unfair treatment, compensation for trauma/ not able to work again due to your employers treatment etc… sincerely the best of luck for you and your family.

    63. Simon Says:

      It’s a disgrace that gaijinpot would rather take the money of sponsors and “vested interests” like Interac than do the humane thing and allow the public uncensored access to discussion about these cruel, cold people and their heartless actions.

    64. anon Says:

      My condolences posted on GP were removed. I heartfully offer them again.

      I was fired from my first job in Japan in much the same deceit and run around as was given to you. Ironically, the school in question had been in a wonderful fight with the union only a few years before. The union claimed victory. The school grew a new tail and was reborn. It continues to bite the heads of all sorts of NT, even today.

      I chose NOT to fight as I wanted to be rid of that school just as much as they wanted to be rid of me. I went on to bigger and better things.

      If you are going to fight, know what you are fighting for and choose your consul carefully.

      If you are going to move on, move on with speed and grace.

      peace to you and your family.

    65. WS Says:

      Interestingly, there seems to be a thread over at gaijinpot discussing this very matter. I wonder if KG and Simon have some other beef with gaijinpot and are, unfortunately, putting their own self-interests over Mr. Collison’s issue by ruining perfectly good threads with the use of very offensive language and wild accusations. Perhaps the two are members of this site:

      KG and Simon, this is not about you. Let’s hope Mr. Collison, finds legal redress for the alleged unprofessional way in which he was treated by Interac.

    66. Don Largo Says:

      My condolences to Mr. Collison and his wife as well.

      I believe that Joe D. has the right answer. All the foreigners in the world won’t make Interac change, but all the BOE’s I’ve ever seen and the dozens upon dozens of schools I’ve been in have all been genuinely concerned about the welfare of the children. If you want to deal Interac a much deserved blow, go directly to the source: Its pocketbook.

      It is my personal observation that the Japanese take a distinct dislike to being told what to do by outsiders. When such a situation occurs, the response is invariably to reject the criticism–no matter how obviously right it may be. You are much better advised to direct your attention to BOE’s, schools and parents as a means to pressuring Interac back into humanity (as if that were possible).

      Also, Mr. Collison, don’t be fooled. The kids love you now, but soon they will be converted, mina onajisized into the very same Interac people you have been abused by today. This is the inevitable truth of the matter. You will try to make a positive impact upon them, dreaming that one day we will all see a better Japan for it, but we won’t. Better that you know that you have done a great thing for some young people and then go on with your life. How many of your childhood teachers do you actually remember today? The kids go on as they must, but we get stuck on it.

      Finally, in reference to some caucasian guilt-ridden, I’m-less-whitey-than-you, knee-jerk response I saw above: Yes! Racism is everywhere you go, but it is also disapproved of in all or most of those places. In this regard, Japan stands out in the crowd as racism seems a largely acceptable behavior here. If I recall, Japan has a law against discrimination but never “thought” to stipulate any punishment. I am sure that Interac will do its best to make sure that this never happens again.

      And this is really my final comment here. One thing which the 臍曲がり really seem to enjoy is watching foreigners turn on themselves for money. Seeing gaijin in Japan always reminds me of the old Ringo Starr movie, “The Magic Christian” when all the people dive into the pool of feces for a shot at their part of a million dollars. Every time you are spotted by one of these gaijin, you invariably receive the infamous “what are you doing in MY Japan” look. When these people learn not to be such P-tos we might have a chance of seeing things change.

    67. matt Says:

      Doesn’t surprise me in the least. None of this. I was with said company last year and it was all cold hard math. I would personally give you 100,001 yen just to keep fighting this.


    68. Johnny Says:


      Based on what I have seen, neither Simon nor KG are exagerrating in regards to Gaijinpot, nor do I think they have any axes to grind.

      There has been a long history of them covering up any and all criticism of companies such as Interac and GABA, regardless of how valid that criticism might be.

    69. BC Says:


      Keep up the attention on this and get it circulating in Japanese as much and as soon as possible not just on the net but via other media as well. The court of public opinion will do more than anything else at this point.

      Make sure any future potential meetings you have with them are witnessed or documented/recorded in some official manner.

      Never under estimate the lengths they will go to to cover this up, delay it, discredit you and your family etc.

      If you decide to fight this/them, then commit to it for the long haul.

    70. Simon Says:

      “….ruining perfectly good threads with the use of very offensive language and wild accusations.”

      I beg your pardon? Where is the “very offensive language and wild accusations”?

      Patently outlandish assertion for a transparently thin argument.

      How are gaijinpot’s censoring actions possibly defensible?

      Profits before people? Good luck with that one.

    71. keepout Says:

      INTERAC alts please unite and help Michael to win this battle.

    72. Glenski Says:


      Obviously,do NOT accept their terms. A mere Y100,000 (even to a charity) is a bribe, and a puny one compared to what they know they will have to pay when they lose in court.

      Telling you that you cannot be transferred because you lack a degree is ludicrous. They hired you without it. There is no reason you can’t work anywhere for the company. That line is so weak it is pathetic.

      Your level of Japanese also does not matter. Even if it was nearly zero, plenty of people get hired to teach in solo or ALT positions, too. You are hired to teach English, speak English, use English, NOT Japanese.

      Dredging up an ancient and barely remembered absence record is also clutching at straws. Get them to show your attendance record (just this one absence, right?) is worse than the others. They won’t do it, of course, but…

      Best of luck.

    73. GE Lipman Says:

      My condolences to Mr. Collison and his wife as well.

      Sigh. Kevin Salthouse is still shilling for Interac. He was at the Hiroshima branch some nine years ago when they were having pay problems and just totally wilted for Interac’s side. They were paying my rent and I would receive letters addressed to Interac-sama saying it was late. He would chuckle and say “don’t worry…”. No surprise he has some cushy position in Tokyo…

    74. Ferris Says:


      First of all, I apologize for your loss. I cannot even begin to comprehend what you must have gone through.

      While I have never been employed by Interac, I have spoken to them on many occasions. In 2006 I had a job interview with none other than Ms. Aoki from the Yokohama branch. I was rejected for a position, but it was understandable why (I didn’t have a degree at the time.. not sure why they interviewed me in the first place to be honest). Following this, I went to the Tokyo branch for an interview in 2008, and at that time, I told them about my 2006 interview. They told me they had to check what happened before, and in the end, I was told that they had lost my application (see: disposed of it). After the interview, I was told that they couldn’t hire me because “There are no jobs in Osaka for somebody who doesn’t speak Japanese.” Two months before the interview I passed the JLPT level 2.

      Later on, I contacted Interac again in regards to employment. After talking to them for a while, I learned that they had lost my second application as well. At that time, I also learned that I should have just interviewed in Osaka before. After explaining that I was told all interviews had to be held in Tokyo, I got a long silence and an “Oh…”

      The point of all of this? I thought that they were just an unorganized and understaffed company.

      I had no idea that they were capable of something like this. Now that I do know, I can guarantee you that I will never offer myself as an employee to them again (they don’t seem to like me anyway), and I will make sure that all of my friends do the same.

      To me, the scariest thing about this is it’s not some random inaka ALT company. It’s the largest ALT supplier in Japan. Don’t back down to them. Get mean. They deserve every single thing that you can possibly do to them. We foreigners need to stop feeding these terrible ALT companies that shouldn’t even be necessary in the first place.

    75. Asterisk Says:

      Why don’t you folks get creative?

      If Interac is really Selnate, an American corporation based in Utah, why not contact Utah’s Senators and let them know what’s going on in Japan?

      Why not hit a Utah newspaper about the story?

    76. Ken44 Says:

      —-Telling you that you cannot be transferred because you lack a degree is ludicrous. They hired you without it. There is no reason you can’t work anywhere for the company. That line is so weak it is pathetic.—-

      But like temp agencies back in the States why can’t J-high schools require teachers to have a degree? I`m not arguing the merits of a four-year degree but only saying isn`t it up to the J-high schools to decided this and not the dispatch company?

    77. Philip Says:

      I agree with Asterisk’s suggestion.

      This should not be limited to publicity within Japan; it should be fed to the international community as well. After all, that is where most of the green ALTs are hired from.

      When Nova started going belly up in mid-2007, the media in Australia got hold of the story because so many Aussies were emplyed by them. Before long, many people knew “Nova”.

      Internatinal attention to this, no matter how small, will help the embattled ALTs.

      (Problem is, it has to compete with bigger news stories like swine flu and economic collapse)/

    78. Erik Says:

      Good idea from Asterisk. Here are a few others:

      * Encourage everybody you know that has a website, blog etc to link to this post on Also, if you discuss it on other forums, bulletin boards etc, add a link to this post. If enough people do this, this post will start showing up on the first page of Google searches.

      * Someone should edit the Wikipedia page for Interac (, decribing this controversy in a factual manner.

      * Hit ’em where it hurts. Interac boasts on it’s webpage: “Interac’s corporate clients include top-tier firms such as HONDA, the HITACHI GROUP, the MITSUBISHI GROUP, and NEC. Interac also serves Japanese government organizations, including JICA, Japan’s International Co-operation Agency.” Contact these companies and governmental institutions directly (with CC to Interac) and let them know what is going on.

    79. Mandy Says:

      My condolences to Michael and his family for their loss.

      Debito, I think this story is worthy of coverage in the community section of the Japan Times where I’ve read some of your articles.

    80. Bob Says:

      ‘Interestingly, there seems to be a thread over at gaijinpot discussing this very matter’.

      Could you please direct me to the mentioned thread?

      There seems to be nothing on GP about this issue…

    81. Johnny Says:


      That thread has probably been deleted by GP admin.

      Here’s one on Expat Japan Network that has a lot of comment (amid some flaming).

    82. GordonM Says:

      My heart goes out to Michael and his family. I’ve got a 2 year old son, but my wife miscarried once before he was born, and once again after.

      I can’t believe that anyone could be so careless (Interac, I mean). It’s difficult to sum up my impression regarding them… Rotten, really ROTTEN.

      I hope this makes the mainstream news, and that all those involved get named, shamed and fired. I hope that Michael gets some proper compensation.

      I wish there was something I could do to help. I’ll be following this case closely, and if there is a protest, a petition, or anything like that – count me in.

    83. Philip Says:


      Has there been in further developments over this in the past few weeks?

    84. Mark Says:

      One of Interac’s simplest rules is “call us before you do anything related to illness, leaving work, etc etc.” If the guy took the time to explain to the Vice-Principal of the school (through translation) the situation, he could have taken the time to make a 30 second call to Interac to say he had to leave work early. Although Interac clearly acted like idiots, the guy should have known through reputation what Interac (and any dispatch company) were like. What people need to remember is that they do not work for the school they are in, they work for Interac. Explaining the situation to his JTE and VP was pointless, when it should have been done through Interac.

      The lesson from all of this is: if you choose to work for a company like Interac (which is something only idiots do anyway, let’s get that straight first), make sure you stick to the rules, because there’s ten more idiots waiting to get a job with Interac for every idiot that already works for them. Sad world.

      — I think it impolitic to call the victim in this case an “idiot”.

    85. Andy Says:

      Michael, I worked for Interac Yokohama in 2007 and I had a similar run in with the Northan-Aoki tag team myself, and it’s part of the reason I left Japan. I see that they have gone from shafting employees to full blown crimes against humanity. I knew they were slimy and dishonest, but I had no idea they were that purely evil.
      I don’t know how safe it is to exchange emails in a forum, but if our good moderator can help us contact each other, I’ll be happy to fill you in on what I know.
      I up and quit on Interac in 2007 due to some shabby (though certainly not THIS shabby) treatment from Interac AND the BOE fat cats that hired them.
      Since then I’ve had it stuck in my craw, and now it’s definitely time to act. First up, I’ll give you some names.
      I approached a Union in Tokyo called the Nambu Union. Louis Carlet is a member there and he’s already taken a couple of Interac Yokohama cases as well as slugged it out with Nova on several occasions. Nambu and Mr. Carlet have web pages. Catherine Campbell is also a good person to talk to at Nambu.
      2 BOE bigwigs that defend Interac tooth and nail are Elizabeth Knight and a fellow by the name of Sekiguchi, who tried his best to assassinate my character after I resigned from Interac. I’m uncertain if you working in the same area of Kanagawa. If I can contact you somehow, I’ll share as much as I can with you. You have a brother in this fight. My deepest condolences, Good Luck and God Bless.

      — NUGW Nambu can be contacted via I’ll pass on your email to Michael.

    86. Andy Says:

      There’s also a group on facebook for disgruntled Interac victims with hundreds of members. One of them is a friend of mine, Greg Diamond. He and his wife had a feud with Interac that was shown on the Japanese news. He’s another fellow who’s very knowledgeable about these issues.
      The best advice for steps to take that I can give is: others who are Japanese labor law savvy (which you’ve already done. Good move.)

      2. Join a union

      3. Contact Hello Work and the Labor Standards Office

      4. See if you can get this on the mainstream news. It’s been done.

      5. Be prepared for Interac to stall, stall, stall, and stall some more. Stalling and flagrant dishonesty are their frontline weapons. But they’ve been beaten before.

    87. Michael Says:

      Thanks Andy.
      Thanks for all your info.
      I have been thinking things over for a while, but I’m now trying to contact someone relevant from a union to see if they are interested.

      A funny thing – As this is posted on several sites, I saw a post from a guy who explained that he could tell I wasn’t a native English speaker, lol. I can’t get much more native than being from Manchester in England.
      He derived this based upon the bad English in my original post on gaijinpot (maybe I was typing in Manchester English again). I was quite proud of that original post as I wrote it sponteneously whilst sat on the kitchen floor after ‘a few(?)’ drinks and hardly edited it.
      Some other funny posts I’ve seen are from people who say they don’t believe it.

      Hopefully I can shed some light as to what will be done soon.

      Thanks for everyone’s support. Hope I can pay it back sometime.

    88. let`s talk Says:

      Michael, there are a lot of funny people around who think that the “Right” English is the one spoken in their village.Just ignore them.Your story got the record number of comments and posts in all forums, except the one (sponsored by Interac).
      There are more than one union in Kanto, people posted their links here.I don`t see why someone relevant from a union can be NOT interested in your story.But if it happens, I would appreciate if you tell us the name of the union that refuses to protect your rights.It will be very useful for foreign workers to know this union`s name and stay away from its memebership.Thanks in advance.

    89. sonia Says:

      Are there any updates?

    90. vick Says:

      To anyone who feels he or she is being exploited by Interac, W5, IES and others – don`t be passive and call the Labour Standards Office. People speak really good English in the one in Tokyo. Don`t sign anything when in doubt!

    91. Mike Says:

      “Japan is a blast for a few years when you’re in your 20’s, but the B.S. gets too stale to stay there long term. I had my fun there for a handful of years, but your story is an extreme example of the same Japanese sentiment that woke me up from the fun and sent me back home where I ultimately belong. They don’t really want us there long-term anyway. They want us to come over for a year or two, sip some green tea, visit some temples, then buzz off back to gaikoku and tell everyone how unique and enchanted Japan is. If we stay longer than that, we might learn that their poop smells bad, too, and they don’t want that.
      So, time to head home. Your wife will love it there, trust me.
      All my sympathies for losing your child.”

      This is sad but very true. Its an uphill battle. Debito is making progress, but if I left this place tommorow, I would feel exactly the same way, that is its a blast for the first few years, then its a drag. Ive personnaly went in and out of depressions and weird mental sh-t due to it. Being ignored, stared at, it all takes its toll. I dont reccomend it long term.

    92. Arniel Brown Says:

      I’m very sorry to hear about the loss, Mr. Collison. I too, have been fighting with Interac. I am a former employee, who worked in Okayama prefecture in 2008 and part of 2009. It was, hands down the worst year of my life in Japan.

      Interac lied to me from the beginning, first having a contract for me, that if I had finished would have paid me 200,000 yen, but then 2 days prior to being dispatched to what was supposed to be Kochi prefecture, I was then sent to Okayama prefecture and verbally told by the 2 MC’s at the time (Peter Kwong and Lucas Sinclair) that the bonus would be pulled, because I was now sent to a new prefecture.

      I told them that THEY breached my contract, and we needed to draw up a new contract ASAP. They stalled, stalled stalled. 9 months later, when I was going through a breakup and clinically diagnosed depression, they then presented me with a new contract minus the bonus, and pulled the same tactic as above, that Ms. Aoki did. “If I leave the room I must sign the documents.” After stalling a bit, and getting into a near physical confrontation with Mr. Sinclair (he too like Ms. Aoki got red in the face, took off his tie, and started pacing like a cage animal, after I refused to sign.) I decided to sign the paperwork.

      Months later after I recovered from my depression, I decided to fight them on numerous accounts, such as the breach of contract, and for the mere fact that they don’t enroll us into pension, unemployment or health insurance schemes. I am fighting them with the help of the general union and it does seem like the Japan government is on our side.

      However, I haven’t claimed full victory yet, as Interac hasn’t fully paid the money that they owe me for various reasons (such as unpaid vacation time, training time etc.) Also, I’m not sure but I did also receive the contract between my former BOE and Interac and see how much the BOE paid Interac for my services, and would possibly use this as evidence as well against Interac.

      Interac continues to lie to the government that we work only 29.5 hours a week and / or 5.9 hours a day. However, they bill the schools for 7.5 hours of our work each day. So there is a difference there. The main reason why Interac lies is so they could not pay into the 3 above schemes in the first place. It’s flat out illegal, and dubious.

      I’m fighting, but I can’t do it alone. We need to all stand up against them, you too Mr. Collison. I do hope that you are indeed working direct hire now for another company, and still fighting against Interac. I need more people to join me in my fight, because frankly I’m tired of getting rejection letter after rejection letter from Interac and their crazed logic as to why they don’t owe me the money, or as to why they could skirt around the law.

      Anyway, hope to have read something encouraging today, and saw this article. It’s good to know there are others out there, but let’s combine our forces and bring down the giant.

      Thanks for listening,
      Arniel Brown

    93. Anonymous Says:

      What I’ve seen time and again with these companies is that the are successfully using intimidation against current and potential employees.

      The rules are simple – no contract, no work. Contract terms change, new contract is needed – again, no contract, no work. Break the contract terms, they can talk to a lawyer.

      As for not paying pension/health/employment insurance I do hope the government enforces the point – society at large loses out when companies skip out on paying their fair share.

    94. Erich Says:

      Dude. Join the local union and fight against this garbage. The General Union in Osaka and Fukaoka, Nambu FWC in Tokyo all do battle against Interac and I have seen things like this before. Not to this degree, but I was able to get a settlement for someone that got fired for being pregnant last year.

    95. Jeff Says:

      Hi Michael,

      Also would like to send out my condolences to you and your wife’s personal loss as well as everything that you have suffered through with Interac.

      I am a relatively new English Teacher in Japan (5 months) and had a very informative experience with RCS in Saitama, proving how terribly disorganized and unaccountable most of these agencies are. It just saddens me that at the end of it all, its the students who are losing out in all this and I dont think the BOE’s seem to care or realized as long as its cheap. I was considering Interac as a serious option and was just doing some background research when I found this thread. So thank you for sharing this. It has been very informative for me, and I will certainly consider other employment options more seriously. I was also wondering if someone could reccomend some better agencies to go through if trying to enter the public education system?

    96. Jenny Says:

      Hello, i have just read your story

      I know how terrible interac are and im really sorry to say, i am not suprised by your story but i am very very saddened for you

      i know will smith, joel et al and they are incompetant liars who made my life slightly uncomfortable but my other friends and colleagues life hell. and they never paid me. and to be fai, i had friends working for interac all over japan and yokohama branch were definitely the worst. horrendous.

      i wish i could magically understand japanese fluently and japanese law so that i could take them down.

      i tried to make a union in yokohama to no avail and now live back in the UK so i can’t.

      please please make one. this is ridiculous.

      good luck for the future and ill keep checking to see what happens.

    97. hhiu Says:

      i think 36’s comment is particularely alarming.
      there are a lot of people out there who like japan for all it has to offer, and i’ve heard before that they would like to settle down there. but then i read that it’s only good for a few years, and that the BS takes its toll on you, as he says himself.

      it’s really saddening to read that.
      if that person reads this comment here, what exactly have you been through yourself if i may ask?

    98. The BFG Says:

      Thanks for posting and articulating your story Michael. It must have been painful to have gone over your story again with Interac Managers only to have them wrap up the meeting in the same irresponsible manner with which they tried to get your resignation. They should have waited there with you until you were ready to excuse them.

      For all the others who have made comments, I would really like to hear some of your bad treatment stories directly. Please come along to one of the ALT union meetings.

      Please contact the Interac Union and other ALT unions and English teachers at Tokyo Nambu FWC.

      Always remember the noble purpose of teaching to which we are called despite thieving bureaucrats on one side, thieving dispatch companies on the other, and on occasion egotistical JTEs mincing about and robbing children of opportunity.

      The Fundamental Law of Education. March 31,1947 under the Constitution of Japan

      Article 6. School education

      Teachers of the schools prescribed by law shall be servants of the whole community. They shall be conscious of their mission and endeavor to discharge their duties. For this purpose, the status of teachers shall be respected and their fair and appropriate treatment shall be secured.

      Status Respected,
      Fair and Appropriate Treatment, Secured!

    99. Vatutin Says:

      Foreigners really need to join a Union. When in a union one has far more rights (not to mention slidarity with fellow workers).

      If in a union, Michael may not have been so upset abut the situation. At least not upset about being fired by those “people” and that criminal organization. It would have almost certainly gone to the labor commission but the company would have settled before any formal judgements. Membership very cheap. Unlike American unions, they are not for profit organizations. The most important thing isnt the money, it is supporting the union, union members and Union activities. of course one doesnt have to do that but the only way they work is for eveyone to show solidarity and support each other.

      Anyone in Hokkaido who wants more info contact in English in Japanese or see the webpage in Japanese here

      Anyone not in Hokkaido who wishes to get more info can see the webpage for info on affiliate Unions (Renai Roso is a Union under the National Union of General Workers umbrella.) or contact those e-mails.

      If all the foreigners who came here automatically entered Unions upon gaining employment as most Japanese workers and all teachers do, this kind of abuse would be impossible unless the government radically changed the law.

    100. Greg Says:

      Michael, I’m really sorry to hear about your terrible loss. I hope you and your family have all the support you need to get through this terrible ordeal.

      As for Interac, I am DISGUSTED at such awful behaviour! It’s people like these that give the human race a bad name! I hope your future life takes you far, far away from these despicable people!

    101. Max Says:

      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.


    102. Erich Says:

      Sadly, this isn’t the first time that Interac has treated their employees badly over issues of pregnancy. I had to threaten them with legal action over a wrongful dismissal of an ALT because she was pregnant and was due to give birth in the middle of the school year:

      This is the worst case I have heard of so far, but I fear it wont be the last.

    103. billy Says:

      Keep up the fight man. Don’t let them get away!

    104. The Interac Union – Tokyo Nambu FWC » Interac and pregnancy; Part Two – The Michael Collison Case:: - …home to union members working at Interac Co, LTD and “Maxceed”… Says:

      […] Share and Enjoy: […]

    105. George Says:

      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?

    106. Evolve with Interac Japan | Japan News Today Says:

      […] You start as a fresh meat university graduate you are lured by the false promises of places like the Gaijinpot job board and you end up as a suit wearing monkey who is shipped off to “teach” by a company with alleged ties to the Mormon Church and history of treating their ALTs like trash. […]

    107. Jon Says:


      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.

    108. Kandi Says:

      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.

    109. Interac Japan Job Reviews | Japan News Today Says:

      […] For an example of how Interac Japan treats its employees follow this link. Share and Enjoy: […]

    110. Natalie Says:

      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 ….

    111. 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.

    112. Gaijinpot and the Censoring of Information | Japan News Today Says:

      […] and the Censoring of Information English Teaching, Japan, Japan News This posting showed up on and talks about an Interac employee who lost his job when he missed work when his baby died. […]

    113. Interac Employee Defends Gaijinpot Over Censoring of Interac Forum Threads | Japan News Today Says:

      […] […]

    114. H Anders Says:

      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.

    115. Michael Says:

      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.

    116. Ex-Interac Says:

      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.

    117. citizenJ Says:

      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.

    118. 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.

    119. Flyjin Says:

      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.

    120. DeBourca Says:

      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.

    121. Lisa Says:


      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

    122. 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.

    123. DeBourca Says:

      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.

    124. MA Says:

      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! :-)

    125. DeBourca Says:

      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.

    126. Markus Says:

      @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.

    127. 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.

    128. Baudrillard Says:

      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!

    129. MA Says:

      @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. :-)

    130. Flyjin Says:

      @ 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.

    131. 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.

    132. MA Says:

      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.

    133. Jeff Says:

      Just got an interview with Interac. Glad I turned it down.

    134. Jim di Griz Says:

      @ 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.

    135. 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?

    136. Jennie Says:

      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.

    137. Markins Says:

      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…

    138. 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.

    139. 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.

    140. Dave Jones Says:

      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.

    141. 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

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