There’s really no pleasing people . . . (Japan JET and Interac/Dispatch)

My JET stuff usually gets a number of hits, and the occasional nasty gram or flame-blog.

Today, I noticed that Shawn Thir over at Let’s Japan has come to a similar conclusion as I did about the latest sales pitch for the no-changes-at-all-to-JET side.

As Shawn said, yes, a lot of these newfound reasons for not changing JET would be laughable if brought to the Jigyo Shiwake. It’s the same kind of histrionics that appear whenever Japan seeks to make a minor change to any golden goose that connected expats get for themselves. That or some money scheme (like the Free Choicers) where a change might upset the where the yen flows and sits.

Well, do you want to know something? I am no big fan of JET, because I think it skews everything about real English education in Japan, and, yes, I don’t think we need junior ambassadors in training whose first job is being given a favorable deal by the country they are supposed to represent us in.

But I also recall writing a ton about how I think the dispatch system for English teachers in Japan is lousy and in need of reform.

So I’ve said that the junket is a problem, and I’ve also said that the junk-job system is a problem, too.

It’s supposed to be Happy Valentine’s Day, but I end up with the nasty grams just for my opinion. What gives?

So again, I ask, what is wrong with Teach for Japan? You can roll JET into it. You can kick the dispatch companies out of the business and administer it directly through the Education Ministry. It could still be contract employment, but with the understanding that this is really a career job. Those who just want to take it for the three years (or five, however JET turned out) can still do that.

It’s just, there would be no more of that je ne sais quoi that goes with the JET Program. The tradeoff would be that there would be no more getting ripped off working for the Eikaiwa dispatch industry. The extra $5,000 that the dispatcher gets would go right into the pocket of the young English lecturer.

Look, when the U.S. embassy staff (25 JETS and the charge d’affairs) is coming out strong for absolutely no changes to the JET program, the people who want to see reforms are really on the weak end of things. The sounds those guys are going to make are going to sound to the Japanese bureaucracy like they would be shutting down the adult escort business or something. And the JET will just stay the way it has been since Nakasone told Reagan that he was willing to raise the quota of Americans in Japan in exchange for more cars being sent to America.


8 Replies to “There’s really no pleasing people . . . (Japan JET and Interac/Dispatch)”

  1. “histrionics?” really?

    Remember I asked a long time ago what would be different between JET and Teach For Japan? You never answered me. Because the two are the same thing. You want government regulation of English education in Japan. Okay. There already ARE Teach For Japan programs at local BOEs across the country that “roll JETs into it” (they just go by different acronyms i.e. NET). They cater specifically to people already in japan with demonstrated work experience and credentials. They are full time, fully insured, protected government employees just like ANY other Japanese teacher. And it’s open to EVERYONE in Japan. These things already exist and are SLOWLY putting an end to the dispatch companies, though not quickly and completely enough.

    Also, I’m seriously not trying to be a jerk. But when you say “real English education in Japan” I want to know what you’re referring to. Have you ever set foot inside a Japanese public school? Eikaiwa is not MEXT. It’s not English education in Japan, its a for-profit bullshit scam. You’ll never be able to regulate it. It’s business. It’s not related to learning or internationalization whatsoever, it’s money. So how do you know what JET does and does not “skew.” Unless you mean they “skew” the experience of teaching in Japan, which is not true. Please clarify.

    Priority number one right now, before you seek to make changes to JET or create TFJ or whatever…. ABOLISH DISPATCH COMPANIES that employ teachers in public schools. They exploit foreign workers, plain and simple, and we have a big enough qualified foreign applicant pool that we don’t need them. That is why people are up in arms against changes to JET. There are bigger ESL fish to fry. And you should be campaigning for ANY school to hire a JET over an Interac teacher, any day of the week.

  2. By the way, in a TFJ situation, wouldn’t that fall under the category of “cushy” as well and produce the same amount of Japan apologist jerks? The idea is to STOP dispatch companies from making a profit off public school education, so the TFJ teachers would have all the same benefits as JETs do. What’s the deal man?

    If you ask me, the real factors that contribute to whether or not a person has a skewed view of Japan, is whether or not that person has a Japanese spouse and family. Those people really have it cushy because their marital visa never runs out, they can set up their own businesses with greater ease, and they have a network of family support behind them should they run into any legal/employment issues. They are also more attractive to Japanese companies who prefer to hire married people over single people. So do the research on that. How many foreigners (JET and non JET) that serve as ambassadors are single? (Go ahead readers with Japanese spouses, get mad).

    I also think you are over-estimating JETs image within Japan. Like it’s a gold star on your resume or something. It’s absolutely not. Most Japanese people have never even heard of JET, even if they themselves were taught by one. Perhaps the reason there’s so many people from JET working at the state department was because that was the ONLY place they could get jobs once finishing the program..

    1. You make some good points, but your focus seems to be on us searching out the “cushy situation” people, rather than determine what makes JET good or bad.

      I am not going to go down side alleys, and so I can only say that your points about other cushy situations probably have merit. But it’s not what I was focusing on in the post.

  3. Kei, I agree that dispatch companies should be disqualified as a first step. They provide a “headhunter” or “paid finder” role that the local government could just as well perform themselves. This is what goes on nowadays in Saitama City.

    You mentioned about NET in Osaka, back-when, and I countered with T-NET, which is apparently the dispatch company version.

    If dispatch is eliminated, the Japanese education system ends up with JET and with a direct hire facility or facilities.

    Now, to go to your question if I have ever taught in a high school, the answer is “no”. I am too old to be hired, and I have a professional background. But I have spent numerous months teaching the product of the Japanese English educational system, so I know the flaws. There are many.

    If people said, “reform JET so that it’s more like the entry level in a English teaching job in Japan”, where the exchange part is DE-emphasized and the service/teaching part is focused on, I would be all for it. And of course dispatch goes, and of course the school boards are going to have to chip in the shakai hoken (which they could be paying now anyway for what they pay the dispatch companies).

    They need to lose both this smelly foreigner insinuation, and the exotic foreigner one, too. (Dispatch and JET). The focus must go solely on education, which is what the young Japanese and/or their parents really want.

  4. Why anyone wants to put up with all this bullshit just to live in Japan is beyond me. I mean the country is nice and all but not that nice. Most gaijins don`t have their shit together because if they did they wouldn`t be here in the first place. Japan is a magnet for f*cks-ups and/or those who can`t cut it in their own country. Me? I came for the easy money and even easier women but that was a lifetime ago. The whole “teach English in Japan” adventure these days these seem like such a hassle and hardly worth the time.

  5. Let’s get this info straight. T-NET is not a dispatch company version. It’s non-profit, it’s not a company at all. T-NET just refers to Temporary workers directly hired by the BOEs. They don’t have employee health insurance because they are not full time, and they don’t have yearly contracts because they are selected to fill short term roles (i.e. someone broke their contract, a school has a special project that requires additional help etc.) The problem was that people complained they were being kept in temporary roles and never given permanent positions, and the benefits that includes. These same things happen to JAPANESE part time teachers, except they don’t have to worry about their VISA status on this sort of freelance nonsense, can take other jobs, use their husbands insurance, etc.

    This is what a Teach For Japan program would amount to if you left Japan completely up to direct hires. It’s all about what’s cheapest for the under-funded BOEs (who yes, sometimes need temporary labor). If you add regulations that give foreign workers a year to year contract and support system? Then you have JET/NET. So I still don’t know what you’re arguing.

    “But I have spent numerous months teaching the product of the Japanese English educational system, so I know the flaws. There are many.”

    This is more true than you know. But you have taken the idea that JET teachers only provide “exchange” during their service and not “teaching,” and completely run away with it. This is a central flaw in your claims. How could you say this unless you’d personally supervised every JET teacher in the country? What do you know about what a JETs responsibilities are? (And saying that “Japanese people still can’t speak English so they must not be doing their jobs” is not an answer.)


    “The focus must go solely on education, which is what the young Japanese and/or their parents really want.”

    The horrible truth, which you would have a clearer picture on if you worked in an elementary, junior, or senior school in Japan, is that MEXT does NOT really want that. Or rather, they want the idea of it, they just don’t want to do what it takes to get it (namely, bringing a significant population of foreigners into the country and paying them.) I have heard all the arguments in the book, including a conversation with my coworker today who said “if we force our students to learn English in elementary school, it will take away from the time spent learning Japanese language!” and “If we employed a foreign teacher in EVERY elementary school, think of how many foreigners would come to Japan!” So they stick with intensive English in high school (which isn’t even required in Japan!) with Japanese teachers doing most of the teaching, and ALTs being used to essentially check grammar/grade essays/act like a zoo animal in class once a week. Again, this has NOTHING to do with JETs. This is English education in Japan. So what’s your point about exchange again? It wouldn’t matter if the foreign teacher was a first year JET or had a 10 years of experience and a Masters in ESL, he’d still be stuck serving the same useless backward system.

    Not to mention, there has been no real reason for Japanese people to acquire English proficiency in society to date. I posted an article a while back that you commented on about a recent survey reporting that 2/3rds of Japanese workers do not want to be sent abroad on business trips. Your comment was something to the effect of, the reason they don’t want to go abroad is because they can’t speak English. When actually, the OPPOSITE is true in this country. Japanese people don’t want to speak English because they don’t want to go abroad.

    If you compare Japan with a country like Korea, where there is so much competition for jobs and top schools that people are forced to use English so they can be educated/employed abroad, you will realize this is true. Japanese people never have to leave Japan, so why waste money studying conversational English? The focus has and always will be reading comprehension for standardized testing.

  6. I forgot to point out this quote:

    “If people said, “reform JET so that it’s more like the entry level in a English teaching job in Japan”, where the exchange part is DE-emphasized and the service/teaching part is focused on, I would be all for it. ”

    That’s what JET is.

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