Right side of the law

I am an Assistant Language Teacher at a middle school outside of Tokyo. My employer is a large dispatch company, but I’m not sure if it has a dispatch license.

My manager told me the company has a “gyomu-itaku” or “entrusted service contract” with the local school board. One thing confusing me is whether I am under the authority of my employer, the middle school or both.


Foreign English teachers call for fair treatment

About 40 foreign English teachers urged the government Friday to take steps to eradicate the serious problems they face on the job, including low wages and sudden dismissal.

Kazuo Inoue, one of the three DPJ lawmakers present, said Japan needs to immediately improve foreigners’ working conditions and protect their rights.

Louis Carlet, a deputy secretary general of the National Union of General Workers, Tokyo South, said in the meeting that the economic slowdown in recent years has adversely affected working conditions for non-Japanese English teachers at private language schools, public schools and universities.

“Job security for foreign teachers is virtually nonexistent today in Japan,” he said, noting that some people had been denied membership in their employers’ social security programs and had been fired for trivial reasons.


Class action

What would you do if you were sacked for “clicking your pen too much in class,” or for “talking to yourself during your break” . . . or how about for “only eating the topping on your rice during lunch?”
These are all actual reasons given for showing English teachers the door, says Louis Carlet, who works for a union representing several hundred language teachers in the Tokyo area.

“The biggest problem for foreign teachers is arbitrary dismissal . . . complete disregard for and flagrant violation of the labor laws.”


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Japan mulls multicultural dawn

Mr Nakatani is worried because Japanese are living longer, yet having fewer children. The result is a shrinking workforce which threatens economic growth.

In recognition, the government is thinking of loosening its restrictive immigration policy.

But any changes may come as a shock to a nation where registered foreigners make up just over 1% of its population.


‘No sex please, you’re teachers’

According to the language school chain’s instructor contract, foreign employees are forbidden to “participate in any interaction with the clients of the employer outside the place of employment.” In theory, insist Nova instructors, they are under threat of the sack for so much as a chance encounter with any of the company’s 450,000 students.


McEnglish for the masses

“The largest eikaiwa school has a staff turnover of 70 percent a year,” says Dennis Tesolat, vice-chair of the General Union, which represents hundreds of teachers in Japan.

“They have guys whose job is it to go to the airports just to pick up new teachers. And that’s because the teachers have a grueling schedule of eight lessons a day, with a 10-minute break between each. It’s worse than a factory.”


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Revised law removes barrier to nationality

The revised Nationality Law cleared the Diet Friday but only after lawmakers at the last minute managed to have a clause inserted to prevent what they claimed would be a surge in bogus paternal recognition cases.

The revised law cleared the Upper House with the nonbinding clause, which calls for applicants to submit pictures of offspring and fathers taken together to prevent false paternal recognition.

Whether a DNA test should be applied to applicants was debated by lawmakers at length during the deliberations, including by Yasuo Tanaka, leader of New Party Nippon, who strongly advocated the need for such a test.

Other lawmakers said that since the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to discriminate against children based on whether their parents are married or not, it would be further discrimination to include DNA tests to the revision.

Fukushima of the SDP said it is important to prevent false recognition, but warned that if the debate focuses too much on that issue, it might shy away from cases of true recognition.

The Justice Ministry opposes the DNA test, claiming it would send the wrong signal by promoting the concept of a family based purely on biological ties.

In the nationality acquisition process, the ministry official said the ministry will carry out thorough and varied checks to prevent false recognition. For instance, it plans to ask how the couples met, why they applied for nationality and whether the fathers plan to support the children.