Download this Powerpoint presentation at: www.debito.org/jaltjobpitfallsnov2007.ppt
AVOIDING PITFALLSGetting stable academic employment in JapanBy ARUDOU DebitoTenured Associate Professor, Hokkaido Information University Photo: Otaru Onsen “Osupa”, Otaru, Hokkaido, Jan 3, 2000
You about to give up on ever finding decent employment? • Don’t do so yet. There are jobs out there with stability, dignity, and “Permanent Tenure” (in the academic sense-- i.e. uncontracted lifetime employment). • But these jobs are relatively rare. We still don’t know how many non-Japanese (NJ) academics actually have Tenure in Japanese universities (the MOE will not, despite repeated requests from even elected politicians, disclose that information).
Putting NJ on term-limited contract employment (while J usually get Tenure) Viewing NJ academics not as colleagues but disposable labor that needs periodic refreshing (Gallagher Case 1997-2002) Withering of Tenure in Japan and abroad. Japan’s demographics. Economics given priority over academia. Common practices of making misleading promises about job conditions. Weak judiciary/labor standards board enforcing weak labor laws. Obstacles to job security
The Tenure Dichotomy • Established practice for over a century of treating NJ as temporary faculty, part-timers, andvisiting adjuncts by very job title (gaikokujin kyoushi from Meiji until 2004, gaikokujin kyouin 1982-2004) • Japanese, however, when hired full-time, usually got (and still get) lifetime Tenure until retirement. Has been eroding since 1997: when Sentaku Ninkisei Hou approved contract employment for J academics too.
Japan’s Demographics • Japan’s falling population means fewer children. • There are more now university slots than students to fill them. • Economic pressure on the universities to cut costs and fire faculty. • The first to go have traditionally been the part-timers and the NJ--since with contracts they can be “non-renewed”, meaning fired. • Now contract employment is becoming systematically more acceptable for all.
The one-sided job negotiation • Common practice of not asking too many questions about job conditions. Employer is to be trusted to treat employees well. • Insufficient advance explanations about job conditions blamed on language barriers or clogged communication channels. • NJ at a particular disadvantage when institution may have long history of Tenure dichotomy, and established NJ isolation from any decisionmaking channels.
Systematic discrimination • Blacklist of Japanese Universities (www.debito.org/blacklist.html): examples of institutions offering Tenure to J, term-limited contracts to NJ, for the same job position. • Long history of National and Public Universities saying “NJ cannot be hired as Public Servants” with Tenure under the “Nationality Clause” (a lie since 1982). • Over 100 universities on the Blacklist offering no Tenure or Tenure-track to NJ, and growing.
Mutating as awareness rises • No longer “Foreigner” positions, rather “Native Speaker” or “Foreign Adjunct”. • Contracts for three years, often capped at 2 renewals. • Age caps at 35, despite October 2007 revision in labor laws barring age limits. • Outright lies about govt requirements to keep NJ faculty temporary.
Questions to ask an employer during your job interview • (Formerly) a National (kokuritsu), Public (kouritsu) or Private (watakushi-ritsu) Uni? • Is this position full-time (joukin) or part-time (hijoukin)? • Is this position contracted (keiyaku koyou)? REMEMBER: Contracts are NOT stable work. Avoid them if possible. If you sign anything, you void most of your labor rights. • If Tenure or Tenure-tracked, do I get an appointment letter (jirei), with no time limit (kikan no sadame no nai koyou)?
Questions to ask an employer during your job interview • If you say this is Tenure-tracked, for how long? And how many other NJ have gotten Tenure through this track? • How many NJ have tenure at your institution? • How many 90-minute classes (koma) will I teach (you should be teaching between 5 to 7 a week--otherwise you’re comparatively overworked). • Am I allowed to attend and speak at faculty meetings?
Questions to ask an employer during your job interview • Are social (i.e health and pension) insurance (shakai hoken) and unemployment insurance (koyou hoken) covered? (By law full-timers must be enrolled; employer pays at least 50% of social insurance) • Do I get a bonus (shouyo or bonasu) twice a year? How many months’ salary is it? (Should total about 5 months’ pay for a full year.) • Will I get other benefits that J faculty are entitled to: a) your own office, b) a research budget (kenkyuuhi), c) a computer budget, d) access to joint research funds (kyoudou kenkyuuhi), e) the right to sit in and vote on committees?
Miscellaneous questions • Are there time clocks to punch? • How many other full-time NJ faculty work at your institution? • How many total hours a week am I working? (officially up to 40 hours means overtime pay, between 30 and 40 hours means full-time work conditions--watch that it’s not “29 hours”, or you miss out on social insurances, and will still end up working more hours).
BARE MINIMUM CONDITIONSDO NOT TAKE JOBS WITH THESE • No clear receipt of Social Insurance (this is illegal) • Contracts with capped renewals or age limits (since you will ultimately be fired) • Classroom load of more than 8 koma per week (you will be overworked) • Jobs requiring you re-apply or re-interview every time your contract comes up for renewal (this is humiliating, unnecessary, and legally disempowering) • No rights to attend faculty meetings (you will be shut out from any decisionmaking process)
BARE MINIMUM CONDITIONSSEEK THESE JOBS OUT • No signed contracts. Look for Permanent Tenure with no term limit (kikan no sadame no nai koyou), or Tenure-track, with evidence that other NJ (more than one) have completed the track successfully. • All job conditions (salary, koma, hours worked, bonus amount, social insurances, faculty meeting attendance rights) made clear from the very start--the job advertisement. • Check out the universities on the Greenlist (www.debito.org/greenlist.html) • Places with labor union support (www.nugw.org)
REFERENTIAL WEBSITES • www.debito.org/blacklist.html • “Ten plus Questions for your Next University Employer” (JALT TLT July 1999 www.debito.org/TLTtenplusq.html) • Updated information on the mutating job market at www.debito.org/acadapartupdateoct05.html • General advice from PALE Journal Aug 98: www.debito.org/PALE898.html#generalmessage
More on this and other issues:www.debito.org ISBN 4 7503 9018 6 English version, Japanese version ISBN 4 7503 9001 9 THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR ATTENDING THIS PRESENTATION!
Download this powerpoint presentation at: www.debito.org/jaltjobpitfallsnov2007.ppt
Even More Profound:Japan needs foreigners! • With the record-low birthrate and record-high lifetime expectancies, the UN predicts Japanese society will soon have the highest percentage of elderly. • As of 2006, the Health Ministry says Japan’s population is decreasing and will fall from 127 to 100 million by 2050. (The average annual influx of around 50,000 foreigners buoyed Japan in the black in 2005.)
Yes, Japan needs foreigners. • Both the UN and a PM Cabinet survey in 2000 indicated that Japan must import 600,000 workers per year to maintain the current standard of living and tax base. • Japan is already importing foreign workers, to alleviate the labor shortage and hollowing out of domestic industry. (300,000 Brazilians now comprise the third largest body of foreign residents). Lacking legal protections against discrimination, will foreigners want to stay in Japan and contribute?