Japan pension insurance update: The U.S. State Department has raised the concern.

To let you know, the topic of Americans being denied coverage in the proper Japanese social security programs has indeed been raised recently by our State Department.

So said a contact within the U.S. Embassy, who was kind enough to share this link with me: 2010 Human Rights Report: Japan.

An enforcement directive published by the Japanese Social Insurance Agency explicitly made it easier for employers to avoid paying pension and insurance contributions on behalf of their foreign employees teaching languages as compared to Japanese employees in the same position. A labor union representing the teachers said the directive provides impunity to employers who illegally fail to enroll foreign teachers in the system.

I believe this is the first time that this news has been included in the annual report, and it is good news to see it there. I know, if I can [do] my summer project going on it stateside, it is much better to have already something to point to from Japan, saying that, yes, this is a problem for our people overseas. It also makes the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo look like it’s out for our interests, and not being smothered by the agenda of the American Chamber of Commerce – Japan. That was the case in the last Republican administration, and, no doubt, even before.

This is a problem that the relevant Ministry could fix in an afternoon. All they need do is direct that a paying unit of a government must have a certification from the Dispatch ALT or other language-teaching company, that their employees are in the pension. If they are not, they don’t get to compete for the contracts, and they don’t get to send staff to the schools.

It doesn’t mean that they have to get rid of Dispatch ALT—which many would agree is the higher hurdle. They simply have to assure that they are covering us for social security the same that we cover Japanese when they work in America. It’s very easy. It just takes an afternoon.

I also saw this gem in the report:

Many foreign university professors, especially women, complained that they were hired on short-term contracts without possibility of tenure.

I wish that had been expanded to mean not just university professors, but also professional people, being given short-term contracts or even the contract switheroo (also known as breach of contract).

In these political things, you take what you can get, and see if you can gain more yardage on the next drive.

Chalk one up for the Embassy and the people who were the grit in the oyster last fall.

[more in a bit]


5 Replies to “Japan pension insurance update: The U.S. State Department has raised the concern.”

  1. I wish that had been expanded to mean not just university professors, but also professional people, being given short-term contracts or even the contract switcheroo (also known as breach of contract).

    As you may remember, I worked at the same Japanese research facility for thirteen years, and never knew any foreigner to get anything other than a one year contract. It was necessary to negotiate a renewal every year. I knew quite a few people who had half a dozen renewals or better. I still have all thirteen contracts myself. I even found out the first six or seven years of unemployment insurance had not been paid. That cost me a month of coverage.

  2. In defense of Japanese universities, it is now easier for foreigners to get tenured positions as long as they have the Japanese language skills to do the committee work and often teach in Japanese. Plus of course one still needs the publications and degrees. Check out the JREC-IN website for university jobs. You can see lots of positions open to any nationality.

    Of course just because it is easier it doesn’t mean it is easy. Competition is still fierce. Furthermore, Japanese universities are putting more Japanese on non-renewable contracts as well.

  3. One study published in The Language Teacher last year looked at 133 tenured university jobs teaching English. 56 ads were specifically open to any nationality, 17 ads called for someone with native Japanese, and in a form of reverse discrimination 33 ads wanted a native English speaker. The remaining ads had no nationality requirement mentioned.

    I’ll be the first to admit it will be harder for teachers of fields other than languages to land a tenured job but it is not impossible. As long as the candidate can do all the admin and teaching work in Japanese.

    My own department has 32 tenured profs of which 5 are foreigners (3 teach languages, one teaches computer systems, and I’m not sure what the other prof teaches but she gets horribly offended if you mistake her for an English teacher). The one tokunin contract lecturer in the department was an American for 3 years but this year was replaced by a Japanese.

    When universities go for their regular re-accreditation process, Monkasho will criticize schools and departments who don’t have enough foreigners or women.

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