American teacher in Sendai stays in Japan to help with volunteer efforts

However, many ALTs have not stayed behind. According to the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), which every year mediates the contracts of around 4,000 ALTs at local authorities around the country, 44 ALTs quit their jobs after the earthquake. Over half of them were at schools outside of the hardest hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. At least one had been working in Kyushu.

From this spring, English will be a mandatory subject for fifth- and sixth-graders at elementary schools. Minato Ward in Tokyo, which employs ALTs at all of its schools, has been unable to secure a complete number of ALTs in April, which delayed the start of English class by a week.

At one ALT dispatching company in Tokyo, over 100 ALTs have returned to their home countries and are not coming back to Japan.

“We are searching for substitutes (for those teachers who left) 24 hours a day. Among teachers who have left Japan but want to come back, many seem to have been held back by family,” said a company spokesperson.