] Are Foreign Teachers
            Being Treated Fairly?
 by YAMAGISHI, K.

   Frankly, some of the non-Japanese teachers teaching in Japanese universities don't seem to be interested in teaching. They seem to have come to Japan just to look for a job, and not because they had a desire to teach Japanese students or study anything during their stay in Japn. Perhaps their coming to Japan was a form of escapism. To these people, teaching Japanese university students will be boring and uninteresting.
  It's usually these people who tend to magnify trivia around them in Japan and generalize them, until they become annoyed at everything Japanese and end up hating the Japanese and their culture or feeling convinced that there is an insuperable barrier between them and the world which surrounds them. Personally I know a group of people broadly classified into this category: who aren't interested in teaching, naturally unskilled in teaching, and in their classrooms there isn't a friendly atmosphere - Quite a few students sit in back rows reading comic magazines or cartoons, some of them sleeping, and others chatting with the student(s) sitting next to them. Some teachers say clearly in front of their students that they are teaching only for money and are indifferent to the students (this isn't a made-up story).
   The worst case is that, though this is a rarity, there are some male teachers who are interested in Japanese female students only, and go to classrooms to find a chance to take advantage of their docility. When I'm referring to these foreigners, I'm basing my observations purely upon my personal experience of teaching at the universiy, where I have spent the majority of my time (for about 30 years).

An asset or a credit to the university

   These exceptions aside, foreigners I personally know are all intelligent, professional, and well-motivated. They are all enjoying their lives in Japan and enthusiastic about teaching and helping Japanese students. They are furthering their knowledge on Japan by reading books and spending a lot of time with Japanese colleagues on and off campus. So, they're loved by their students and have become an asset or a credit to the university.
   When it comes to their status or position, however, I can't help sympathizing with many of them, or if I may say, I feel sorry for them. Many of them have to be content with their unstable positions on one or two year employment contract. And they have to worry about what will happen when the contract has expired; unluckily the economic situation is becoming worse and worse nowadays.
   Personally I know a lot of foreigners who have remained for many years in the same position as an assistant professor or a full-time instructor, although they are quite efficient and well qualified. And to make matters worse, they are not well paid. This is true especially at private universities.
   Contradictory to this, there are too many highly-paid Japanese teachers who are unqualified to teach and quite inefficient in teaching university students. Despite the fact that they are English teachers, they don't speak English no matter how often and how sincerely "native" English speakers propose that they speak English (on campus, at least) for mutual understanding. Very often, it is these Japanese who are eager to form academic cliques and arrange things behind non-Japanese colleagues' backs; they don't know how to coordinate things with the non-Japanese. The only possible reason these unqusally have ualified Japanese teachers became full-time professors rather than get fired is because of the Japanese system of promotion by seniority and life-time employment (Quite unfortunately, in Japan firing people is quite simply not done).
   In this respect there are many foreigners in Japanese universities who're not being treated fairly and equally. I'd like to say emphatically that the people who are in university management should treat Japanese and non-Japanese teachers impartially. As far as I know, full-time university teachers, Japanese and non-Japanese, have to cope with equally heavy teaching loads. From time to time, non-Japanese teachers have to take on heavier workloads than Japanese colleagues, just because they are "native" English speakers (i.e. Japanese teachers usually have difficulty checking up on entrance exam English, for instance).

Being equal

   People who own and manage a university in Japan should treat non-Japanese teachers as well as they treat Japanese teachers, or they should bring the free agency system into their universities as in American universities, and apply the system to the Japanese and the non-Japanese equally. Then, really professional and efficient teachers, Japanese and non-Japanese, will remain and teach Japanese students (In this respect, we must head for a shake-up, a time of change). I'm of the opinion that many Japanese university owners are "bullying the weak" and are discriminating against qualified, efficient teachers from overseas. This is really bad for Japan and Japan's future. Japanese universities (and Japan as a nation) should accept qualified people from overseas into their center; so far, only a few of these people have been incorporated into Japanese universities. Arifin Bey, having an interview with Bernard Krisher (Japan As We Lived It, Yohan Lotus Books, 1989) says:

   They are deceptive. Congenial only up to a certain extent. They emasculate their language, for example; allow foreign words to penetrate. But when it comes to the inner core of the Japanese value system, you cannot touch this; it's 'We Japanese.' For example, at the outer level, they always say, 'Wr World Peace,' 'We World Community.' When they're outside their country, they talk in terms of internationalism. But once they're back home it's 'We Japanese' again. And this progresses further in small circles: 'We Mitsubishi,''We Sumitomo.' And within this core they have further cores.
   Thus, you may be able to penetrate Japanese society at large, you may get involved, but you never penetrate into the core. A foreigner may become an advisor of Mitsubishi, but not a real official member of Mitsubishi. They give you high names, even good pay, but not real involvement or permanence.
(pp. 54-5)

   This is an undeniable fact, I'm afraid. In its tue sense of the word, Japanese society including universities should open its door widely to the outer world and welcome qualified and efficient people from overseas to the center or the core of the society.