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Harassers exploit Gaba’s ‘man-to-man’ lesson format

Teachers cite unique classroom method and management's disregard for 'contractors' as factors behind prevalence of abuse by students

by James Mccrostie

Special To The Japan Times

The first sign that Olivia’s Gaba lesson would be anything but ordinary came when her student insisted during the warmup that he didn’t like wearing clothes.

The middle-aged gentleman had previously studied English with Olivia while wearing the shortest of shorts. On this winter day in February 2012, he wore track pants.

During the lesson, Olivia could hear the client’s hand brushing against his pants. But since he constantly scratched himself due to a skin condition, she thought little of it.

“He was sitting right up to the desk so I couldn’t see what was happening down there. A few minutes before the end of the lesson, he pushed himself back and I could see he had a visible erection, and I could see he was stroking it with one hand.” When their eyes met, she says, “He looked at me in a challenging way.”

Olivia believes that if she had been asked the day before it happened, she could have told you exactly how she would’ve handled the situation. But “in the moment, I kind of just froze,” she says. “Everything flew out of my head and I really didn’t know what to do. So I just kept teaching.”

The student then started using two hands.

When the lesson ended, Olivia had to get him to finally pack up his things and leave by telling him she had another student coming.

“I broke down after he was gone,” she says — crying enough during her next lesson that her female student never booked a class with Olivia again.

Olivia says her managers at Gaba, an English conversation school chain with 39 branches across Kanto, Kansai and Chubu, were not supportive. Unable to speak to her instructor support leader (ISL), who had gone home for the day, she emailed him and copied in her previous ISL and the area manager, a non-Japanese male. Unlike regular teachers at Gaba, whom the company considers contractors, ISLs are full-time Gaba employees who act as assistant managers. Most are non-Japanese former Gaba instructors.

However, rather than blocking the client from her schedule, management told her to be patient while they investigated. “It ended up making me feel like they were accusing me of lying,” says Olivia.

The area manager who dealt with Olivia’s case declined to respond to emailed questions, writing, “I am not able to provide any comment on the issue of sexual harassment.”

After a week spent interviewing other instructors, managers blocked the client from booking lessons with Olivia. However, he continued studying at the same learning center. Olivia says she saw him when he walked past her booth, in the lobby, at the train station and once on the street, when he nearly bumped into her.

Making matters worse, Olivia says her supervisor became openly hostile toward her.

“The ISL was really, really angry with me for complaining about it,” says Olivia, and from that point on, he avoided talking to her. Olivia has since left Gaba, citing the way the company handled the incident as one reason.

Current and former Gaba instructors describe a litany of inappropriate behavior by students and a reluctance on the part of managers to address the problem.

According to Emma, a current Gaba instructor, certain male clients are known for being “space invaders”: students who sit too close and stare into a female instructor’s eyes the entire lesson. Others avoid eye contact entirely to stare at the instructor’s breasts for 40 minutes, she says.

Some clients ask inappropriate questions about their teachers’ personal life and relationship status. Carly, a current Gaba instructor, has a student who always pays her compliments, such as, “You’re so beautiful, I bet you have so many boyfriends.”

Sophia, a current instructor, recounts how one student in his 40s, who has his lessons paid for by his company, constantly asks personal questions, such as, “Was your husband your first boyfriend?” He also makes compliments like, “Your skin looks very smooth today.”

Sophia’s attempts to teach the student the difference between appropriate and inappropriate topics for conversation between a student and teacher proved fruitless. Sophia adds that a female supervisor’s attempt to teach the student on her behalf backfired when he asked her out on a date.

According to Sophia, even after a Japanese staff member told the client to stop asking personal questions, little changed. He continues to act strangely toward female instructors, saying things such as, “I need you.”

Other students cross an entirely different line, making comments that define the word “creepy.” Carly recalls how one retired man tried to hug her when an earthquake struck during the first half of a double lesson. At the break before the second lesson, she asked him if he wanted a drink. Carly says he “leant over and looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘I want to drink your breast milk.’ ”

The experience was “horrendous,” she says. “It makes you feel like an object.”

Instructors also discuss an infamous client who they say has taken 20,000 lessons in total, covering every Gaba learning studio in Kanto over the past eight years. When taught by a female instructor, he tries to make physical contact at every opportunity: high fives, handshakes that never end, requests to punch him, touching teachers’ legs, even hugs.

Carly says her manager told her not to worry, explaining the student’s behavior results from a neurodevelopmental disorder.

One day the student told Carly, “I want your blow job.” When she complained to a supervisor, Carly says the male ISL responded by saying, “I think you’re just too nice to the clients.”

Only after the student started sending her “crazy” Facebook messages did managers act.

“The sentences themselves were absolutely nonsensical,” says Carly. “Most of them, I couldn’t make out what he was trying to say. But the vocabulary was sexual and there was some violent vocabulary.”

Carly says she had to print the messages out and show them to her manager before the company blocked him from her schedule.

Sophia, who has taught the same student 70 or 80 times, says that most of the time she can control him, but asks, “Why do I have to take an aggressive attitude and be extremely careful about body language and think about restraining the client instead of teaching?”

While no male instructors proved willing to discuss their experiences of sexual harassment, six Gaba instructors this reporter spoke to all knew of male colleagues who had been sexually harassed in similar ways by female students.


Japan’s 1985 Equal Employment Opportunity Law was revised in 1999 to include definitions of sexual harassment. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s “Measures Against Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” pamphlet, the law defines two types of workplace sexual harassment.

One is “environmental sexual harassment,” where there is a serious adverse effect on a worker’s ability to perform their duties as a result of sexual harassment in the workplace. Examples include sexual jokes, persistent invitations to meals, unnecessary physical contact or being forced into a sexual relationship.

The second is “quid pro quo sexual harassment,” in which a worker’s response to harassment results in retaliation. For example, a worker is demoted after refusing to date a boss.

Instructors complain that Gaba’s reaction to sexual harassment varies widely and depends on the individual managers working at the learning studio where it occurs. While some ISLs are sympathetic and quick to act, others dismiss or ignore instructor complaints.

According to Olivia, “It makes a huge difference who your ISL is.” After a second student masturbated in one of her lessons, an email sent to her ISL and copied to her union got the client immediately blocked from her schedule.

After complaining about the student who kept asking personal questions, Sophia says that her female manager responded, “It’s still a lesson and you get paid for it.” Sophia calls it “ridiculous I have to get harassed for ¥1,500.”

At some Gaba learning studios, female instructors have developed their own secret code on the students’ files to warn each other of problem students.

Instructors complain that Gaba managers often place the burden of proof on instructors and pressure them to teach the students again so they can listen outside for proof of inappropriate behavior.

In the case of the “breast milk” client, Carly says that during the break, when she told the Japanese counselor what had just happened, they told her: “That’s shocking; you should tell the manager. But you also need to go back and teach the second lesson.” She says the counselor explained, “You haven’t got a choice basically because he’s booked you.”

Carly ended up teaching the second lesson.

“I wish I hadn’t,” she says, “but at the time I was still quite a new instructor. Obviously if it happened now I would kick them out.”

According to Carly, her ISL went to the Japanese manager, who spoke with the client. Even though the student admitted to the manager that he asked to drink the teacher’s breast milk, he claimed to be joking and said he thought it was OK to make such comments because all foreigners are so friendly.

Carly says that even after the confession, Japanese managers asked her to teach the client again so they could listen to the lesson and try to overhear something else inappropriate.

Carly believes she was lucky the ISL successfully fought the Japanese managers to block the student from her schedule, since she didn’t feel comfortable teaching the student again. The student remains a Gaba client, she says.

Gaba managers pressured another teacher, Emma, into teaching a client again after he asked her out on a date, she says. During only her second lesson with a longtime Gaba client, Emma asked the man in his late 40s about his Christmas plans.

“I should spend it with family, but I’d rather take you out on a date”, he replied. Emma says he then told her that he would take a Christmas Eve lesson with her so they could go out for dinner afterwards.

Emma says she told the student it wasn’t appropriate and lied that she was married.

Emma reported the problem to a Japanese counselor, who took the problem seriously. However, while that counselor was off sick with the flu, the client booked another lesson with her. Emma approached the main Japanese counselor, who Emma says didn’t care.

Emma says he asked her, “Are you comfortable teaching him?”

Emma replied: “No, absolutely not. I don’t want to teach him again.”

But the counselor refused to cancel the lesson and tried to reassure Emma, telling her: “He’s done it before, it’s not your fault; he just needs someone to harass.”

According to Emma, the student had harassed three other instructors.

Emma says the student began their third lesson together by asking her if he could record it. Emma agreed because it was a common request but says the student then explained, “I want to listen to your beautiful voice.”

During the lesson Emma says the student demanded proof that she was in fact married. Emma refused and reminded him it wasn’t appropriate to ask a teacher personal questions. Emma says the student then suffered a sudden drop in language ability, complaining that her English was too difficult to understand.

After the client booked a fourth lesson, Emma says her boss told her to teach it while he listened outside. If she felt uncomfortable during the lesson, she could leave. Emma warned her boss she simply wouldn’t show up to work.

Because another teacher had overheard the client’s inappropriate comments in the third lesson, Emma succeeded in getting the student blocked from her schedule. However, the student continues to take lessons at her learning studio.

Emma says it makes her uncomfortable when he takes a lesson in the booth next to her and that she worries about getting stuck with him on the elevator. “It’s annoying and it’s just ridiculous, and it shows the company really doesn’t care about its teachers,” Emma says.


Adrian Ringin and Katie Martin are the first sexual harassment officers to be appointed by General Union
Adrian Ringin and Katie Martin are the first sexual harassment officers to be appointed by General Union’s Gaba branch. | COURTESY OF GENERAL UNION

Sophia believes the instructors’ employment status as independent contractors rather than employees is one reason why managers prove reluctant to address the sexual harassment issue. She says that because Gaba doesn’t classify the instructors as employees, it avoids taking responsibility whenever possible.

Sophia also believes that Gaba managers want to avoid confronting clients. Emma agrees, saying that managers “just care about the maximum bookings possible — that’s it.”

Gaba is not the only conversation school with problem students.

“Whether or not companies want to acknowledge the problem, sexual harassment by students occurs regularly,” says Ava, who worked for Nova’s Multimedia Center and currently teaches at a high school.

Ava says her worst such experience was when a teenage boy fondled himself during a Nova Internet lesson. After turning off her camera, she called the tech staff, who told the young man to stop and then tried to convince Ava to continue with the lesson, laughing at her request that they contact the boy’s mother. Ava says that she heard from several coworkers that he had masturbated during their lessons as well.

However, Gaba’s “man-to-man” system may provide more opportunity for bad behavior. According to Olivia, the one-on-one lesson format “gives (students) more of an opportunity to take advantage.”

Sophia says the layout of Gaba learning booths also plays a role. At Gaba, the teacher and student sit beside each other, sharing a quarter of a round table. In narrow booths, teacher and student sit so close to each other that their legs sometimes touch. In other language schools in Japan, such as Berlitz, instructors and students sit across the table from each other.

Gaba instructors also claim they received no training on how to handle sexual harassment. One Gaba teacher said that during her five-day training at Berlitz, about an hour was devoted to sexual harassment.

Financial pressures also force many Gaba instructors to endure lessons with clients they’d rather not teach. Instructors are only paid for lessons taught. The minimum salary needed to maintain the visa sponsored by Gaba is ¥240,000 a month. For instructors earning ¥1,500 per lesson, this requires teaching about 40 lessons a week.

Emma says this can be difficult unless instructors work seven days a week. For instructors depending on Gaba sponsored visas, refusing to teach a harassing client is a luxury they may not be able to afford.

Gaba’s system also places a lot of power in the hands of clients, who can choose the instructors they want to study with. Clients can also wield negative evaluations like a weapon. Carly says that out of 6,000 Gaba lessons taught, she received only two negative evaluations, both from students she refused to go on a date with. Carly says the negative evaluations will stay on her record — too many and she risks a pay cut or not having her six-month contract renewed.

According to Chika Shinohara, an associate professor at Momoyama Gakuin University’s Department of Sociology, “The Equal Employment Opportunity Law requires the employer to prevent sexual harassment.” The law also makes clear that it covers not only regular workers but also nonregular workers including part-time, contract and dispatch employees.

Union leaders complain that Gaba management resists their demands to address the issue. According to Adrian Ringin, chair of the General Union’s Gaba branch and one of two Gaba branch sexual harassment officers, after Olivia recounted her experience with the masturbating student to company officials during collective bargaining, Gaba’s lead negotiator refused to say whether he believed harassment had even occurred.

According to Ringin, the ISLs should be able to help but they “can be hamstrung by the system in which financial targets can outweigh everything else,” adding, “the General Union decided to appoint sexual harassment officers because unfortunately sexual harassment is an issue where employers tend not to support their staff.”

The union’s sexual harassment officers’ jobs include listening to members’ accounts of harassment, offering advice and acting as a go-between in negotiations with the company about the issue.

The union claims credit for pressuring Gaba into enacting recent changes that make it easier for instructors to block clients who behave inappropriately from their schedules, and the introduction of a standardized form for staff to report harassment from clients. However, the union claims that Gaba failed to adequately inform instructors of either change.

“The General Union would like the company to be honest and open to all instructors, both current instructors and all new hires, so that no one else will again go through what many instructors have experienced — harassment from clients, and the confusion, fear and uncertainty about what to do,” Ringin says.

Gaba declined, as a matter of company policy, to comment on specific incidents but denied it ignored the problem. In response to emailed questions, a spokesperson with Gaba’s Instructor Services Division responded that “Gaba does have policies in place to protect all of our stakeholders — instructors, staff and clients — from all forms of harassment, sexual or otherwise. As all stakeholders are critical to the success of the company, it is clearly in our interest to establish appropriate systems and support.”

Shinohara says people unlucky enough to experience sexual harassment in the form of stalking or assault should report the incident to the police. Workers experiencing other forms of sexual harassment should first bring up the problem with their company’s consultation office.

“If (the company doesn’t) seem to be helping at all they should confer with their prefectural Equal Employment Office,” she advises.

Each Prefectural Labor Bureau has an Equal Employment Office which can assist in resolving disputes. Simple assistance in the form of advice or recommendations can be provided by directors of Prefectural Labor Bureaus after they hear statements by the employee and employer.

Workers can also apply to take the more time-consuming process of formal conciliation, which is carried out by a panel of lawyers, academics and other experts.

Rather than battling bureaucracy, some Gaba teachers simply call in sick when a known harasser appears in their schedule. One instructor admitted to sometimes calling in sick and forfeiting her day’s pay because on some days she “couldn’t bear to teach the tit-starer.”

Carly understands that decision.

“Sometimes it’s a teaching job, but sometimes you feel like you’re just kind of an object for them to stare at,” she says. “It gets to the point where I dread going into work every day.”

The names of teachers quoted in this article are pseudonyms for instructors in the Kanto area who experienced sexual harassment but didn’t want themselves or their learning centers identified. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • 72308

    Excellent article about a subject that it all too often considered taboo. As an English teacher, I have experienced sexual harassment here (although thankfully, not to the degree of some of the stories above), and I would like to see more schools letting their teachers know how best to address the problem and what support is available.

  • Firas Kraïem

    I find it amusing that this article doesn’t bother mentioning what the heck “Gaba” is. Apparently, it is assumed that anybody who can read English and has an interest in Japan must be familiar with the corporate slavery system that is the English teaching industry…

    • Steve Novosel

      “…Gaba, an English conversation school chain with 39 branches across Kanto, Kansai and Chubu…”

      It’s in the article.

  • keratomileusis

    Check out Craig Currie-Robinson’s great exposé on the industry. Eikawa is not about education, but customer service. This explains everything. Two more points, there is a long standing tradition of geisha, and it’s corrupt descendant, the “hostess bar.” “Why not converse in English, sans champagne?” is the logical extension. For savvy good looking men, this provides an opportunity to make a lot of money on the side as an escort. Free spirited single women with disposable income can think of nothing better than walking into Joel Robuchon’s with a dashing white guy in tote, followed by cocktails at the Westin.

  • Gordon Graham

    I suggest a hidden camera and a lawsuit

    • itoshima2012

      yeah, why don’t they film every lesson?

      • Professor Chill

        Did you read the article? The problem is not that administration denies that sexual harassment OCCURS and/or EXISTS, it’s that they deny that it is a PROBLEM.

    • Professor Chill

      Japan does not do the lawsuit thing as commonly / easily as it is done in North America. The (non) reaction of the administrators as detailed above should give you some idea of how seriously sexual assault is taken in Japan.

      • Gordon Graham

        Gaba would settle out of court rather than be humiliated by such an ugly reputation. They would certainly honour the teacher’s request to not have to teach such a student ever again.

      • Professor Chill

        Did you even read the article? Both of your points are incorrect.

    • Steve Jackman

      Ah, the famously corrupt and inept Japanese courts! I suggest you read former judge Segi’s book titled, “Zetsubo no Saibansho” (Courts Without Hope), about the sorry state of affairs within the Japanese judicial system. You may not want to set foot in a Japanese courtroom after reading it.

  • HayesOose

    At Gaba wages, teachers need to ask themselves what they are getting out of working for them. I know for a fact that if they find a private student on their own, they can ask for and get close to or more than twice what Gaba pays, and have control over the situation: Who, what, and where. They can drop the students who are less than respectful, and by eliminating the middleman (GABA), bring in a decent wage without the student having to really pay any more for English instruction. What is needed is for the EFL, ESL, ELF teachers of Japan to amplify our mutual aid efforts: Find good students for each other, support those students and each other.

    • Steve Jackman

      As Lemikonkon’s comment points out, the problem of sexual harassment in Japan is not unique to GABA. Going the private route, as you have suggested, is not going to address this cultural issue. Do you really expect foreign female teachers to have to endure sexual harassment from dozens of male students, as they try to weed out the harassers? I’m afraid you’re not offering a very good solution to this problem.

      • HayesOose

        “Going the private route, as you have suggested, is not going to address this cultural issue.”

        Actually, it does, in a way that I already pointed out: If a private student who I meet with on my own, without the help of a school, not under any school’s roof, is unsatisfactory to me for any reason including sexual harassment, I can choose to stop the relationship without having to lose my employment.

        In addition, the fact that most private lessons of this sort take place in a more public venue than Gaba’s tiny cubicles, e.g. in a cafe, there is somewhat less likelihood of truly skeevie behavior to take place.

        By characterizing this as “this cultural issue,” and you provide no evidence that it is the norm that women teachers must endure harassment from “dozens” of students, you seem to be saying that the only solution is to either end all sexual harassment, or perhaps to “educate” the management at Gaba to have no tolerance for it.
        Both are admirable goals I suppose. But given that Gaba’s inaction in the face of this harassment is not their only problem, I do believe that any teacher would be better off in the long term going it alone and finding their own students. Those of us who do this sort of teaching can go much further to help each other. I have found some wonderful long-term students through recommendations of other teachers, and I have referred individuals who sincerely sought help with their English to other teachers of my acquaintance. My suggestion that more of that “mutual assistance” is a better route than going to an outfit like Gaba for students, given their overall track record when it comes to respect both toward their customers and their employees.

      • Steve Jackman

        By referring to sexual harassment as a cultural issue in Japan, I am relying on my more than a decade of living and working at Japanese companies here. In my experience, sexual and racial harassment are extremely widespread and tolerated at all levels of the Japanese workplace.

        Furthermore, I would argue that it is more risky and dangerous for foreign female teachers to freelance and be on their own, since they expose themselves to many more potentially shady characters who are out there on the prowl looking to harass and sexually abuse foreign women. Also, did you consider that most foreign teachers in Japan need a work visa to teach here, which they cannot get on their own?

        The real solution is for the Japanese government to start enforcing the equal opportunity laws which are already on the books. This will send a clear message to society and businesses like GABA that they need to have a zero tolerance policy in place when it comes to sexual harassment. Alas, like many other laws on the books in Japan, this will not happen. The Japanese judicial system is extremely corrupt and is basically there to protect the vested interests and the status-quo.

      • Gordon Graham

        Another bunch of hogwash from Steve. Sexual and racial harassment are most certainly not extremely widespread and tolerated in the Japanese workplace. There was a time when that was so but not anymore…When I first arrived here 27 years ago women were treated as little more than servants in the workplace, fetching tea and making photo copies. Times have changed and there are sexual harassment policies in place that are strictly adhered to. More and more you can read of men who think they can behave like it’s still pre 1980′s Japan and end up either in jail or fired as a result.

      • Steve Jackman

        You’ve repeatedly stated in your earlier posts that you came to Japan as a professional hockey player and now you are a hockey coach here. Perhaps, you can explain where your experience in the Japanese workplace comes from?

      • Gordon Graham

        Working for the JIHF and its subsidiary branches throughout Japan, working with companies building sponsorship and promoting the sport both nationally and internationally.

      • Steve Jackman

        My observations actually working on a day-to-day basis inside large Japanese corporations are quite different from your experience working at the Japan Ice Hockey Federation.

      • Gordon Graham

        I should think working for the JIHF in an office environment would constitute the Japanese workplace (a hockey coach in Japan must wear many hats…there are equipment suppliers, insurance providers, event organizers, tour operators and ministry officials to deal with on several levels…all in an office environment). Attending drinking parties with sponsors such as Mistubishi, ANA, Bridgestone, etc. should provide some insight into how women in the corporate world are treated I would think, especially concerning the potential for sexual harassment increases dramatically when alcohol enters the equation.

      • Steve Jackman

        I am not belittling your experience. Just saying our observations are different. This is my last reply to you on this topic, so let’s move on.

      • Gordon Graham

        Actually, you were attempting to invalidate my experience by questioning its veracity at first then dismissing it as too minimal when you realized that I’m being genuine. Just as I am challenging the validity of your observations that sexual harassment is extremely widespread and tolerated. I say you’re exaggerating…based on my experience. Based on all your other posts, I’d say you’re doing so to intentionally slander the Japanese, as criticize the Japanese is what you do on these pages.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Considering you are not a woman, I’d say your experience with sexual harassment is much more limited than the average woman’s. I’d suggest you seriously consider that point before you make assertions.

      • Gordon Graham

        Sorry, I missed the “women’s only section” listed on this page. Well, anyway, I guess there goes anything I’ve ever seen or heard.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I said, “consider that your personal experience is limited”, not “you are not allowed to have an opinion at all”.

        Before asserting that there is no (or very little) sexual harassment (casual or otherwise) at the place you work, perhaps you should ask some of your female co-workers’ opinions. Of course, you’d also have to consider that as an older male who may be in a positive of more power, they might not be comfortable telling you the truth.

        Women tend to be uncomfortable even talking about the problem because we have to consider that what we say might get to the wrong ears and get us in trouble. Back when I was in eikaiwa, most of the staff were female. They would tell me things that they wouldn’t report to either the other male teachers or the male area managers. They didn’t want to rock the boat too much, because most of the harassment was of the casual kind, and to them not worth rocking the boat over.

        I should point out that even if the harassment is casual, it still effects morale. And women really should not have to put up with comments like “I bet you look good in a bikini” or “You are sexy today, aren’t you!” with a smile because they are too afraid of retribution to talk back.

      • Gordon Graham

        My experience has given access to what males say at drinking parties and in office environs when women are not present. Western men are far more vulgar and licentious than Japanese men…in my limited experience.

      • http://www.sheldonthinks.com/ Andrew Sheldon

        No, he has a difference of opinion based on his own ‘experience’. By the way, what is wrong with belittling your experience? He’s not invalidating the fact that you had it, but your interpretation of it, be it faulty or context dropping. So what? Sexist attitudes are not easily interpreted in a culture you barely speak the language or get the values. My ex-partner was hit on the head by her boss, and his boss was disappointed I did not defend her. I thought that was his or her place frankly, given that she was not injured….and seemed to think nothing of it.

      • Gordon Graham

        He implied that I was lying…

      • Steve Jackman

        Oh, someone hurt Gordon’s feelings!

      • Gordon Graham

        It doesn’t hurt me in the least that Andrew is oblivious to tone…

      • Steve Jackman

        I don’t think Andrew is oblivious to tone, I think you’re oblivious to truth and the facts.

      • http://www.sheldonthinks.com/ Andrew Sheldon

        Besides I was pissed too.

      • HayesOose

        Steve, you cite teachers being sexually harassed by “dozens” of students. For a full-time teacher doing lessons one on one, that would mean the majority of this teacher’s students are sexual harassers. You can’t possibly believe this is the case.

      • Steve Jackman

        You have to consider that English teachers have to teach at least 40 lessons a week to make a living teaching, as pointed out in the article. Furthermore, consider that there is quite high turnover in this business, so teachers have to constantly look for new students in order to make up for students who drop out. Assuming that a teacher teaches in Japan for several years, based on my math, it is not inconceivable that the teacher would have to deal with quite a few perverts. So, I stand by my comment.

      • HayesOose

        Steve: words have meaning, and “dozens“ means a minimum of 24. You can go on and on about your years and years of business experience in Japan, especially if you keep it *just vague enough,* but you can’t make the case that 24 instances of sexual harassment a week is something that Eikaiwa teachers routinely experience.

      • Gordon Graham

        Steve likes to exaggerate to prove a point…say it loud enough and often enough and have enough people repeat it and it becomes true.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Dozens of cases of harassment, over the course of a career? Absolutely possible. Gaba teachers work one on one, but most teachers have full classes, and harassment can occur outside the classroom as well. Company parties and other company-sponsored social events, or simply running into a student at reception, in a break room, as you’re coming or leaving- there are plenty of opportunities for an unscrupulous and determined person to take advantage of. Not to mention, some teachers’ careers span several years, or even decades. So two or three dozen instances over the course of a five or ten year career is actually a conservative estimate.

        I personally can’t count the number of times I’ve had sexual comments directed at me by male students in my 20 years here. I’ve never been touched, grabbed, or groped, but that’s likely because I present a manner that is rather, shall we say, intimidating. But stares and sexual comments are common, as are personal questions.

        And let’s not forget- the female Japanese staff also get harassed by students. I’ve been witness to it dozens of times.

        Honestly? I really don’t think you can understand or appreciate the scope of the problem unless you’re right there in the trenches. In other words, you need to believe women, because as a man you’re just not going to have the same experiences.

      • Steve Jackman

        I’m a man and I understand scope of the problem. The problem with posters like Gordon Graham and HayesOose is not that they don’t understand the problem of sexual harassment, it’s just that they want to whitewash the problem and quash any attempt to address this and other issues facing Japan. Perhaps they would would be happier living in North Korea, Iran or under the Taliban, since these regimes too would rather not face the problems confronting them.

        I believe if you love a country, you work to try to improve things, not sweep issues under the rug. In this respect, posters like Gordon Graham are doing Japan a huge disservice, since they just don’t seem to give a damn about what happens to Japan.

      • Gordon Graham

        I believe my solution was a camera and a lawsuit…ie exposing a management complicit in sexual assault by its insufficient support and facilitating of sexual predators.

      • Steve Jackman

        So, you’re saying that only your solution is the right one and nobody else’s opinion counts. Who the heck anointed you as the sole “decider” of the one-and-only correct solution for every issue facing Japan? Perhaps, I should call you Kim Jong-un or Ayatollah from now on. Get out of here!

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m saying that I didn’t suggest to “sweep it under the rug” at all as you accused, but rather bring it out into the open to be dealt with and eradicated. Your solution was what…I seemed to have missed it in your continued screed of scorn for Japanese culture.

      • Steve Jackman

        Your first solution of relying on technology and using cameras all the time everywhere is typically Japanese, in that it does not address the root cause of widespread sexual harassment in Japan. It’s simply not feasible or effective unless you address the underlying problem of the acceptance of sexual harassment in Japan.

        Likewise, your second solution of a lawsuit is also not very valid, given the racism and discrimination shown by Japanese courts towards foreign residents of Japan. Japanese courts are famously corrupt and unfair, as described in former judge Segi’s recent book titled, “Zetsubo no Saibansho” (Courts Without Hope).

      • Gordon Graham

        “acceptance of sexual harassment in Japan”? There you go again with sweeping condemnations that are both erroneous and loathsome. No solutions, however…
        Well, Steve, I suggest you google “America’s corrupt legal system” for some reading material of your own. Japan is far from having a monopoly on institutional corruption. Does that mean there is no legal recourse…according to your cliched Japan, yes. Fortunately, the real Japan operates above your loathsome imagination.

      • Steve Jackman

        You seem to have problems with reading comprehension. What I said was that a freelance English teacher on her own who has to find her own students may be exposing herself to dozens of harassers over the course of her teaching career. Read my post, it does not say dozens of harsssers a week. Those are your words, not mine.

      • itoshima2012

        the problem is not cultural, the problem is that no hard policies are in place to protect their teachers, why always drop it on “culture”, might be but so what!? Gaba should create an environment that isn’t making it easy to those freaks, but it should make it as difficult as possible. M2M is prone to this, if taped this could still happen but the guy, or in some cases I imagine also a male teacher, could be nailed! Or a M2M in glass cubicles ecc. Plus students should sign that any sexual harassment (and all other types as well) will be investigated and brought to court. YOu would see things improving dramatically. But many guys here have racial prejudices against Japanese and point always to “their culture”, it’s all BS, even if so, the company must protect its students in all possible ways and Gaba wasn’t doing that because they want to turn a massive profit on every student, freak or not!

      • Steve Jackman

        I have absolutely no prejudice against the Japanese. Having said this, I like to have some honesty and integrity injected into such discussions about culture. I know from living and working at several Japanese companies in Japan for more than a decade that sexual and racial harassment are extremely widespread, tolerated and accepted at Japanese companies here. Anyone who ignores these cultural issues is either in denial or being disingenuous.

      • Gordon Graham

        Anyone who perpetuates the myth that sexual harassment is extremely widespread and tolerated is either no-longer in touch with the Japanese workplace or is deliberately slandering the Japanese.

      • sighclops

        You’re wrong. My g/f works at a place where this type of thing goes on almost daily. And don’t even get me started on the company “nomikais”, where the female employees are expected to “pamper” the male staff.

        You’re the one that’s out of touch, my friend.

      • Gordon Graham

        My wife works in administration for a large Japanese company and has never been a target of sexual harassment in over 30 years (and before you make a crack about not being worthy I in all honesty can attest that she is more than so)…So you see, my friend. I too have anecdotes. I’ve attended more than my fair share of drinking parties to honestly let people know, where once female employees were obligated to serve male employees, now its more a matter of seniority than gender…the rookies pour the beer regardless of sex, and it’s not uncommon to see a young male employee running to get tea at any big company in Japan.

      • Kichijen

        I’m really glad your wife hasn’t been a target for sexual harassment in Japan, I genuinely am, but you seem to be ignoring the voices of the women (and men, because I know a few male eikaiwa teachers who’ve been pressured by clients into uncomfortable situations) on here who say they have been.
        An anecdote is a ‘short and amusing story’. I don’t have anecdotes. I’ve got a police report of being attacked on the street, pinned up against a wall and molested, I’ve got emails and testimonies describing being heckled by a group of young male students who followed me for 25 minutes shouting ‘oppai’ at me on the street from work, onto the train and into my home town last year. I’ve got documents of discussions about what to do with the student who got behind me and simulated sex on me in the middle of a group lesson last year too.
        I love Japan and I have made a life here. I want to help by contributing to make Japan a better place. The majority of my students are kind and respectful, but I cannot choose them all and some are not so. Harassment here is real and very problematic, it is not dealt with effectively either.

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m not saying that harassment or assault doesn’t occur…There are 130,000,000 people living here on this island roughly the size of California…all forms of abnormal and unspeakable behaviour is to be expected. I’m sorry for your trouble. I honestly hope you weren’t seriously hurt or permanently traumatised. I certainly don’t condone or care to excuse such reprehensible behaviour. That said, I think it is unfair to characterise the Japanese as “that” kind of people…

      • blondein_tokyo

        But no one is claiming that the Japanese are worse than any other culture. We are saying though, that Japan is behind in this matter having only made a serious attempt at outlawing sexual harassment in 1997. The term “sekuhara” wasn’t even coined until the late 80′s.

        It’s still quite common for bosses to make personal, casual sexual comments to female staff that would get a manager in the US or UK fired.

        Their awareness of what constitutes sexual harassment is still low, and their policies to deal with it aren’t comprehensive. Even though I think, generally speaking, that a Japanese person is not particularly more likely to commit harassment, the lack of understanding and serious attention IS a particular problem.

      • Kichijen

        Thanks for your comment and kindness. I don’t think Japanese are ‘that kind of people’ i.e. generally mean or sexually predatory. I do, however think there are serious problems with sexism and the depiction of women in Japan, which in turn influence expectations of female behaviour. The fact that rape porn is so popular here and that you can see really strong images on magazine covers in full view of little kids in conbinis means that these images get absorbed from an early age. I think they are one part of a complex problem.
        Women are available for sale in soaplands, snack bars and maid cafes all over. Women are commodified here, in a way that men simply are not (hosts exist, but the culture is just not as prolific). This is another part of the problem that leads some horrible men to think our bodies are like cookies on a shelf, for them to take whenever they feel like.
        I doubt you would deny that Japan does not like to ‘take the bull by the horns’ and confront social issues (suicide, rape, far right groups shouting hate through megaphones at Hachiko crossing, Fukushima to name but a few), this compounds the problem of sexual harassment and how assault is dealt with here.
        When I was attacked and went to the police before the head of my Board of Education asked me why I was out after dark and what I was wearing. I tried to explain that it got dark at 6pm in December and I couldn’t get home after work before nightfall, that I was wearing mens’ jeans and an XL mens’ hoodie from Uniqlo, he just wanted to know what I had done to make this guy assault me. This has been typical of my experience here.
        These problems also exist in Western societies, of course, they sadly still exist everywhere, but they are allowed to fester here because people do not like to confront these difficult situations head on.
        I feel like a problem every time I speak about a sexual harassment incident. I am treated like a problem every time I speak about one. I get the strong sense that people would rather I kept my mouth shut than upset the ‘wa’. THAT is the difference between how sexual harassment is dealt with in the West and in Japan (and perhaps some other Asian cultures, though I have only lived here in Asia, so only care to comment on Japan).

      • Gordon Graham

        Women are not for sale at snack bars or Maid cafes. That is they are just as much “for sale” as a bartender at a Jazz club in Aoyama who listens to your gripes as he pours you whiskeys. Snack bars are not brothels, nor are Maid cafes. Exaggerating to prove a point only serves to detract from your argument. Soaplands are a far better solution to the “oldest trade in the world” than a dirty alley or a dead end street. Perhaps you could tell me of a culture that is void of pornography or prostitution? Besides perhaps a hyper-religious one that considers a woman’s body filth and teaches people to shudder and recoil from it. Could you also tell me how America deals with the problem of rape as it seems to me there have been quite a number of incidents of American marines rapping local Japanese girls in Okinawa…I’m pretty sure the number of rapes across American and Europe would top those incidents that occur in Japan two fold. Let’s not pretend this is a “Japanese” problem. My issue is that these kinds of articles act as an invitation for foreigners with gripes to pile on with sweeping statements like…”The Japanese are this” “The Japanese are that” “…is endemic to Japan”…You get such a cacophony of self affirming consensus that all you end up with is a perpetuation of cliche, never mind what real flesh and blood Japanese people really think. I started out saying that a hidden camera and a lawsuit would be my solution to a management who was complicit via insufficient support upon which I was told of a litany of Japanese sins. Well, there are laws and there is recourse for women to protect themselves from predators and perverts. Don’t let the cliche’ “Japanese don’t do the lawsuit thing” be an obstacle…because there ARE lawsuits and their is recourse.

      • Christopher Glen

        126 million or so, last I checked, and falling

      • blondein_tokyo

        Yes, it is true that all rookies pour the beer, including the guys. However, if there is a woman in the group of rookies, she is expected to be the main server. But that in and of itself is not good evidence for anything other than your average, everyday sexism, which is distinct from sexual harassment.

        But I think the prior poster isn’t suggesting that forcing someone to pour beer is sexual harassment. I think he is saying that the drinking parties provide ample opportunity for actual sexual harassment to take place. I have to agree. The amount of alcohol consumed tends to be proportional to how badly people in general behave. And when you are one of the only women in a group of men? You have to good-naturedly take a bit of sexualized harassment or else risk making everyone feel confronted, embarass them, and make them lose face. And doing that to a man who is in power is just the kind of thing that can hurt a woman’s career, especially when she is young and just starting out.

      • Christopher Glen

        A young male running? That’ll be the day

      • itoshima2012

        you work in a hostess bar?

      • blondein_tokyo

        Absolutely wrong. It’s widespread in the USA, UK, and Europe. Why would Japan be immune? Japan has the additional problem of being way behind in its methods in dealing with sexual harassment. It’s taboo, so no one talks about it and it gets hushed up when it happens. Women are left to deal with sexual harassment by pretending to laugh it off or else face career sanctions, just like the Gaba teachers in the article.

        Like the other poster, I’ve lived and worked in Japan for over two decades, in several different Japanese companies, and I have seen this first hand. Most HR Departments don’t even have a sexual harassment policy, or if they do, it’s woefully inadequate and unclear. Anyone stepping forward to complain, particularly if it’s about a customer (as in the case with Gaba) or a senior executive, becomes the “nail” that “sticks out and needs hammered down.”

        I myself have experienced this. I was told I had to act more cheerfully and use a high voice when I said “good morning” to the president of the company, and he was allowed to make personal, sexual comments about me and the other women. We had to not only endure his remarks, but smile while he said them.

        I quit that company precisely because of the way women were treated. It is endemic in Japan, and won’t get better unless it is shoved out kicking and screaming into the light so it can be dealt with.

      • Gordon Graham

        Times are changing…times have changed.

      • blondein_tokyo

        And the more things change, the more they stay the same. ;)

      • Gordon Graham

        The more things change the more foreigners with a gripe refuse to notice…and rather seek consensus in each other’s anecdotes.

      • blondein_tokyo

        You say that as if bringing up the problem of sexual harassment and the lack of serious attention to the problem on the part of many companies is not a legitimate complaint.

        In some posts, you seem supportive of women who have had experiences of sexual harassment, but at other times you seem to be seeking to minimize the problem and dismiss the idea that the steps Japanese companies have taken is inadequate.

        Considering that even many companies in the US, UK, and Europe have inadequate policies, is it really so very hard to believe that many companies in Japan also need to further address the issue?

        For example, I work for one of the largest electronics companies in Japan. Including subsidiaries, we have 250,000 employees around the world. After reading this article, I asked my manager about our sexual harassment policy, and he told me he didn’t know what it was and that he’d contact HR and get back to me. No doubt we have one; but the fact that the department head who is supposed to be managing over 300 people doesn’t know what it is is very telling.

      • Gordon Graham

        Ask your manager what the policy for employee theft is. I’m sure he or she’d have to get back to you on that, too. I suppose his or her job is mainly focusing on the efficiency of business operations and that HR issues are tackled as they come up. That he or she doesn’t know is telling indeed, it tells me they haven’t come up.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Actually, theft comes up quite a lot where I work, and the policy is well known. An email went around the office not very long ago as both a reminder and a warning. We also have periodic “quizzes” that we have to take on such subjects as bribery and power harassment that are posted on the intranet once or twice a year. But I have yet to see even one message in 7 years about sexual harassment.

        Sexual harassment doesn’t come up much, if ever, because it’s very taboo. Ask about the policy towards stealing, someone will quote you the rulebook without blinking. Ask about a sexual harassment policy, they open their eyes wide in shock and don’t quite know what to say.

        Of course, this IS just *one* company, but it is a large one dating back over 100 years, with a very large international presence and offices around the world. We are under a ton of media scrutiny. And if we have problems like this, then I think it is not unreasonable to say that other companies that are under less scrutiny by the media will have even more.

      • Gordon Graham

        You say it’s taboo…I say it’s rare. But I would have thought theft in a Japanese company was rare too, so maybe I’m wrong.

      • blondein_tokyo

        It’s definitely not rare. It’s part and parcel of an ordinary day in the office, and no one really thinks much of it.

        Keep in mind – the vast majority of it is the casual type- comments here and there, little brushes, a condescending attitude, sexual jokes and innuendo, and so on. But as I said in another post, even that kind of harassment effects morale. It makes women feel powerless; like outsiders; and it effects your self-esteem and motivation. We should not have to deal with that. Ever, at all. But the older males particularly (though younger ones do it too) and customers get away with saying things to us (women) that in the US or UK would get them reprimanded at the very least; and if they didn’t stop, they’d be transferred, demoted, or fired.

        But here? Nope. A manager can ask a subordinate what color her underwear is, and everyone just laughs. I have seen this type of thing again and again.

      • Gordon Graham

        I’ll have to take your word for it. My experience has been that Japanese men are generally polite and reluctant to talk openly about sex. In my experience it’s the Canadians, Americans and Europeans that come out with such vulgar comments that the Japanese men recoil blush and shake their heads in disbelief. There is a good deal of travelling involved in hockey and there are particularly sensitive issues concerning female athletes. In 20 years of coaching there’s never been an incident. I’m aware of the case in which a Judo coach raped one of his charges…he’s now in prison. There are laws and there are policies in place to help protect women against such predators and perverts. As I’ve said, a hidden camera and a lawsuit would be my course of action in the cases stated in the article. You wanna give the rules teeth…bite!

      • blondein_tokyo

        Talking about sex and making sexual jokes and innuendo are quite different. Yes, Japanese are quite reluctant, for example, to have a frank discussion on birth control or masturbation. But sexual innuendo, like the question about the color of panties, or sexualized compliments given lightheartedly in the guise if “innocent” banter are everyday occurrences. You need to understand the distinction.

        I do like your idea about cameras in classrooms. I think it’d be a positive step forward. But at the heart is a sexism problem that generally goes unchecked.

        Additionally, not everyone works in eikaiwa, and harassment, as I noted, also takes place outside class.

        At one place I worked we had a female manager and she was often quite frustrated at the number of times students would hang around the front desk “flirting” with her.

        At any rate, it’s going to take a huge cultural shift towards recognizing actually what sexual harassment is, and taking sexual harassment more seriously, before anything will change. Cameras and clear, enforced sexual harassment policies are a step in the right direction but are simply stopgap measures.

      • Steve Jackman

        You’ve really got your head buried in the sand, Gordon. Is the Japanese press slandering Japan also by reporting in today’s news that Ayaka Shiomura, a 35-year-old member of Your Party, was subjected to “monstrous sexual harassment” by her male collegues from the LDP as she was speaking in the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly yesterday?

        According to Japanese press, several male members of the LDP yelled at her, “You are the one who must get married as soon as possible”, and “Can’t you even bear a child?”, as she tried to continue speaking in tears. I think it’s time you wake up.

      • Gordon Graham

        Sounds like the Japanese press were appalled. How on earth did they manage such sentiment being so tolerant of sexual harassment and all?

      • Steve Jackman

        Because, in this case the incident in the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly happened in front on many people with the cameras rolling. Got it? duh.

      • Gordon Graham

        I get it, Steve. Just like when the Japanese press condemned the racist banner at the Urawa Reds game. You were disappointed and incredulous because it didn’t fit your narrative. Now, the Japanese press condemns sexist comments and you want to explain that away because again it doesn’t fit your narrative. You’ve just proven what I’ve said all along, you ignore genuine sentiments of Japanese who don’t fit nicely into your little cliched perception.

      • Steve Jackman

        Before you say that the problem of sexual harassment is not cultural, I suggest you read today’s news in the Japanese press.

        Apparently, during the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly’s session yesterday, several male members of the LDP hurled abuse at Ayaka Shiomura, a 35-year-old member of Your Party, during her speech in the assembly, as what was described to be “monstrous sexual harassment” by one of the other female members.

        Shiomura was in tears as she tried to continue with her presentation, while her male collegues yelled at her, “You are the one who must get married as soon as possible”, and “Can’t you even bear a child?”.

        If this is not a cultural problem, then I don’t know what it is.

      • Gordon Graham

        You’d think the press would know the difference between sexist and sexual

      • Steve Jackman

        Gordon, you still don’t get it. Do you?

      • Gordon Graham

        Politics? Absolutely…

    • ippatsuya

      And who is sponsoring their visa to live in Japan while they do this? Additionally can they get guaranteed 200,000en salary minimum doing this? Are they going to sit in the same cafe all day whilst people come and go? Alternatively are they going to invite them to their home and take the chance on getting sexually harassed or raped there?

      I am not supporting Gaba even one iota. But you have to think seriously about this. This would not be sustainable for 99% of people teaching in Japan who do not have the wherewithall let alone the business sense to do this.

      • HayesOose

        You can “sponsor” yourself (in fact the idea that companies “sponsor” employees’ visas is a misunderstanding that companies are more than happy to encourage).If you have a visa, you are free to leave your job and work elsewhere, be it for another outfit or for yourself. You don’t need a company to “sponsor” you, you only need to show that you can earn an income doing work the Japanese government approves you to do. Obviously being hired by an Eikaiwa is the easiest way for a teacher to accomplish this. But, once hired, you are not forced to stay with that company.

        And yes, it’s a bit harder to go it independently. But really, it’s not as tough as it may seem at first, in fact I know lots of people doing it. My contention is we support others in going that route.

  • Steve Jackman

    It’s sad to see how many sukebe (助平) men there are here lurking behind the “proper” facade.

  • Lemikonkon

    To be fair I don’t think this is a GABA speciffic issue, while I got my share of boob starers and uncomfortable closeness at GABA, I had much bigger problems with private students who thought lessons meant “dates”. Yeah GABA dropped the ball on this in terms of how they handled it, but the broader problem is the cultural attitudes towards foreigners. In western feminism we talk about the eroticised other, how Asian women are portrayed in the media and how that shapes our cultural perceptions of them. Pretty much the same thing applies except the races are reversed. I’ll also point out this doesn’t just affect white women. An African American man I worked with would often get inappropriate stares, and questions about his body.

    • Steve Jackman

      I agree that this is not a GABA specific issue. The real problem is the objectification of foreigners by the Japanese, their lack of ability to see foreigners as three dimensional human beings, their lack of context of foreigners and the general ignorance most Japanese have of foreigners.

      On the point of the portrayal of Asian women in Western media, I think things have changed greatly (at least, in the U.S. media) where there are now many high and powerful Asian women, including newscasters, politicians and corporate leaders. Even if a small group of Western men may have an Asian fetish, they would never be able to act it out like Japanese men are allowed to at places like GABA. The equal employment opportunity laws and the EEOC in the U.S. would sue and shut down a school like GABA in a jiffy.

      • Gordon Graham

        Yeah right, Steve…Japanese don’t consider foreigners fully human. Nice assessment, guy.

      • itoshima2012

        disagree, the real problem is that Gaba handled this badly, 2 sexual harassment officers for such a big company? What a joke! Plus, m2m should as a company policy be taped from start to end, not only because of student’s possible misbehavior but also on the teachers side. Gaba is full in the wrong, culture has nothing to do with it I would say. If they tape every lesson, a piece of cake with today’s technology, this would never ever happen again and if so they could sue the pants off the students harassing a GABA employer.

      • Steve Jackman

        I know nothing about how GABA handles sexual harassment, other than what’s reported here. However, I have lived and worked in Japan for over a decade, and I have seen widespread sexual and racial harassment at several Japanese companies. Sexual and racial harassment are so common and widely accepted at Japanese companies that hardly anyone even bats an eye. It’s just considered business as usual at Japanese companies. This is why I say it is a cultural issue.

      • Kichijen

        When you say tape, you’d have to mean video, with a high enough resolution camera and good enough angle to catch if a student stares at a teacher’s breasts/crotch/whatever for the entire lesson, right? They’re never going to front up that kind of cash….
        People don’t tend to sue in Japan either, I mean, maybe they should, but they don’t as a rule.

    • Gordon Graham

      Are you implying that Japanese women aren’t subjected to sexual harassment…nor portrayed as sexual objects in the media?

      • itoshima2012

        or that Asian women are not sexual objects in white cultures?

      • Gordon Graham

        actually, she said that…

      • Steve Jackman

        You’re missing the point. While Asian women may be thought of as sexual objects on a personal level by a small minority of Americans (I can only speak for my own country), there is very close to zero tolerance of sexual harassment in the U.S. workplace of the type described in this article. The U.S. has extremely strict laws against sexual harassment and protecting equal opportunity for women and racial/sexual/religious minorities. Unlike Japan, the EEOC actually makes sure that these laws on the books are vigorously enforced.

  • Cam

    Ahahahahaha. You’re in Japan now princess, the customer is god, time to learn the customs. But seriously, why are you still working for gaba if it’s such a hell hole, there are 100s of good jobs in Tokyo that are easy to get. Beggars can’t be choosers.

    • Professor Chill

      “there are 100s of good jobs in Tokyo that are easy to get.” Really? That don’t involve English teaching? Don’t be absurd.

      • Cam

        Yes really. Sorry that teaching is the only thing you can get. Maybe it’s time to better your education buddy

      • Toolonggone

        “there are 100s of good jobs in Tokyo that are easy to get. ”

        Many of the jobs you get at private sector are not much different from–or even worse than dime a dozen Eikaiwa schools in terms of wages and work hours. There is a growing number of predatory employers called ‘Black Corporation.’ They allure young, naïve and innocent applicants elsewhere through false advertisements, and force you to work 24/7. Go ahead and try some if working at some IT, distribution, or telecom companies hiding the mask of Black Corporation makes you feel educated about Japanese labor market.

      • Guest

        If you haven’t figured it out by now, Cam is a teenager nestled in the suckle of his mother’s basement. He’s never set foot in Japan.

      • HayesOose

        That explains it!

      • Cam

        Also take note that HayesOose, and guest aka Graham Gordon, only have their side and everyone else is always wrong, those type of people. As to your comment, working in the financial sector has it’s pros when it comes to getting a job…

      • HayesOose

        It’s not so much that you are “wrong,” Can, it’s more that you are just a garden variety moron. You’re actually too careful, or maybe dumb-lucky, to never say anything meaningful enough to be “wrong” in a technical sense.

        And you want to imply that you work in “the financial section” [sic]?

        Seriously, nobody cares, Can. Nobody.

      • Cam

        Lol, you obviously do mate, you care a lot about what I have to say, look at you lap it up and try your best to let other people down good for you, it’s gonna get you real far in life…Anyhow, I’m gooing to be the bigger man and walk away from this. Enjoy spreading your nonsense far and wide, no one gives 2…..

      • HayesOose

        I’ve exlpained the depth and breadth of my “care” for you Can, and trust me, it does not extend past “ridiculous tools are fun to mock,” certainly there is no desire on my part to know what you wish people to believe about your alleged livelihood.

      • Cam

        Haye. You’re loving it aren’t you? Great idea, let’s meet up and I’ll teach a lesson or 2 in manners. But you won’t, cause you’re just a coward.

      • HayesOose

        When and where sport?

      • Cam

        Sweet! Tonight, at Hachiko @ 6:30pm.

      • HayesOose

        Not free to spend time with juvenile near-illiterates this evening.

        Sunday?

      • Cam

        How do you not spend time with yourself, weird. Sorry, Sunday I’ll be inspecting one of my factories…You can apply for a job at one of the companies I own if you like, I pay my employees more than you make, and I’m all for helping out the educationally challenged.

      • HayesOose

        “…I’ll be inspecting one of my factories…”

        So that’s what the kids are calling it now? My dad called it “playing pocket pool,” and the popular euphemism when I was your age was “choking the chicken,” or “spanking the monkey.” Well, enjoy “inspecting one of your factories” then, Can. Try not to get blisters.

      • Cam

        Jealous much? We know you are, ahahaha.

      • Gordon Graham

        I think you mean the financial “sector”, son.

      • Cam

        Thanks Grandpa! It’s a little something called auto correct, an annoying feature on an iphone. An iphone is a new digital device used for communicating with and what not. Kind of like a mini computer in your pocket. You get it? No, you say? It’s hard explaining new technology to the elderly.

      • Gordon Graham

        Funny how when I type out sector on my iphone there’s no correction. Nice try, Junior. Also, you’d think someone in high finance would have grammatic knowledge above the average elementary school student and know the difference between it’s and its.

      • Cam

        I knew you wouldn’t get it, grandpa. Just don’t worry about it. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

      • Gordon Graham

        Shouldn’t you be running along now, Junior? It’s past 8am. I’d think being in the financial “section” this would be your busiest time. Or is it being in your mother’s basement, after school on the other side of the world you have all kinds of time right now?

      • Cam

        You seem to be concerned so much about my English? It is my second language. Are you sure you’re not a gaba teacher in disguise?

      • Gordon Graham

        You should be more concerned with it. Perhaps if you were to hone it a little more you might untangle that muddle in your head. Who knows…maybe even one day you can really get a job in the financial “section”.

      • Cam

        It’s hard for you to accept the truth, isn’t it? Anyway, thinks it’s about time the nurses got you back into your bed and give you your meds. Have a nice day in bed, grandpa.

      • Gordon Graham

        Nice edit, kid…way to straighten out that lie

      • Cam

        Hey Baldie Gordie, to which lie are you referring to? Everything you say sounds like a lie…I really don’t think your married, no one in their right Mind would marry a cockroach.

      • Gordon Graham

        Thanks for coming back to amuse me with your ignorance, Sport. That’s “you’re” married, son. Keep ‘em coming, Chuckles. Every post a new adventure in ineptitude. “To which…to”. Another beauty! Cheers

      • Cam

        Like I said mate, anything to help out the educationally challenged, and the elderly. Isn’t past your bedtime grandpa?

  • Cam

    Ahahahahaha. You’re in Japan now princess, the customer is god, time to learn the customs. But seriously, why are you still working for gaba if it’s such a hell hole, there are 100s of good jobs in Tokyo that are easy to get. Beggars can’t be choosers.

    • HayesOose

      Wow, so witless you had to post it *twice*

      • Cam

        Whatever little troll, go back to your pathetic existence

      • Gordon Graham

        Ouu snappy comeback! Did you come up with that all by yourself?

  • sighclops

    This is one of many serious problems with the eikaiwa industry, which preys on the foreigners who come to Japan on short-term visas each year and, more importantly, have no idea about how the system really works. In short, you have absolutely no rights.

    The whole business survives on this alone.

    • HayesOose

      1: Japan actually has strong labor laws.

      2: If you are an Eikaiwa teacher, join the General Union. Do it today.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Japan’s labor laws lack teeth. If you are unjustly fired, you have to get a lawyer and sue. The case can take several years to wind though court, and you may not even win. If you work for a large company, they likely have legions of lawyers who are happy to lie and falsify documentation. If you work at a small company, they have no assets so even if you won, you’d never get paid. They also may just refuse to pay you, and you have no way of forcing them without a court injunction which means more courts and more lawyers. Meanwhile you are out of a job and have lawyer’s fees to pay on top of your bills.

        Faced with that, most people will put up with poor conditions rather than go though the hell of a lawsuit, or else put up with it until they can find a new job.

        It is definitely a good idea to join the union. I would recommend it to everyone. But if you call Louis Carlet, he’ll tell you exactly what I told you up there. In fact, that is the exact advice he once gave me. :)

      • HayesOose

        I belong to the General Union, and they have shown that in fact companies, for instance the humongous electronics company whose workers they represent, can be pressured to adhere to their agreements and labor laws without having to go to court.

      • blondein_tokyo

        HayesOose, I’m afraid you are somewhat naive. I just happen to work for a giant electronics company, and it is not at all easy to pressure them sufficiently to avoid going to court. In fact, they would fight fiercely to protect their reputation with cutthroat methods such as falsifying records, lying, and generally denying any wrongdoing. An employee took my company to court in a famous case about ten years ago over an invention he created which the company promptly stole and refused to give him credit for. He finally got a settlement out of them after years and years in court, and guess how much he got? 5 million yen. Considering the case wound its way though court for over ten years and he lost his job over it, was it worth it? Sorry, but the little guy never really wins when they are up against giant corporations with almost unlimited budgets.

        Besides that, the vast majority of these eikaiwa are tiny fly-by-night operations with less than 10M revenue per year. Suing them does no good, even if you win, because you just aren’t going to get much.

        No, employees are mostly left to fend for themselves. Which is why you keep your head down and your ears open, and at all times be ready to move on.

      • Gordon Graham

        He’s lucky, because the law states that intellectual property is that of either the University or employer not the individual student or employee.

      • blondein_tokyo

        The case was more complicated than that, Gordon. He actually WON.

      • Gordon Graham

        Bingo! There is recourse to justice in Japan after all. Steve Jackman would be incredulous I’m sure.

      • blondein_tokyo

        When you thought he lost, it was the because the courts are fair. Now that you know he’s won, it’s also because the courts are fair.

        Do you think there can be no wrongdoing in the legal system, that the courts are always fair to the everyman, and that corporations never win simply because they have power and money?

      • Gordon Graham

        I thought it was a patent issue and commented accordingly to the best of my knowledge.

      • blondein_tokyo

        That didn’t answer my question. :)

        Do you think there can be no wrongdoing in the legal system, that the
        courts are always fair to the everyman, and that corporations never win
        simply because they have power and money?

      • Gordon Graham

        I think there’s wrongdoing in every system

      • HayesOose

        We are talking about labor law, at least I thought we were. Intellectual property disputes is a completely different ball of wax.

      • HayesOose

        It just so happens that I toil for a giant electronics company as well, hell, it may even be the same one *you* work for, and I know for a fact that this company has on numerous occasions been pressured to do the right thing without having to be taken to court.

        I have witnessed this huge company reversing itself on pay, on hiring/firing decisions, overtime and holiday time, more than once, because, simply, the people employed were backed up by a union, *not* because they had a lawyer drag them into a court of law.

        I was speaking of basic labor law, and examples of patent/intellectual property rights between a manufacturing company and its employees are a completely different topic.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Sure, the union is very helpful in these cases, and Yes, companies can be pressured to back down without going to court. No one is denying that.

        However, as I said, we are not talking here about electronics giants who are under a lot of media scrutiny. We are mainly talking about eikawa, most of which are small and not subject to pressure from the mass media. Small companies often fly under the radar. They can get away with things larger companies cannot, simply because people aren’t aware of what they are doing.

        Additionally, the majority of employees are foreigners who are unfamiliar with the laws, don’t know with their rights, and are unfamiliar with the legal system and who may only plan to stay in the country for a few years. They don’t want to get tangled up in a lawsuit, so even if they come to understand what the company is doing is illegal, they let the companies get away with egregious violations of the law because they don’t have the resources either financial or legal to fight.

        Teachers in eikaiwa don’t get their paid holidays, have too much tax taken out of their pay, their pay is shortchanged, they are fired for dubious reasons, subject to sexual harassment from students (and other teachers and school staff), sexual and racial discrimination, and more, all without recompense.

        The main point is that eikaiwa are taking advantage of the ignorance and vulnerability of a weak segment of society. This business sector needs higher levels of government scrutiny in order to prevent such abuses. I’m of the opinion that eikawa ought be require licensing to operate as an educational entity as they do in many other counties around the world. That would be a beginning to addressing the problems.

      • Gordon Graham

        I would think eikaiwa would rely a lot on image and reputation.

      • blondein_tokyo

        The students have no idea how teachers are treated. How would they even know? Teachers wouldn’t dare complain about the company to the students in a lesson, and there’s no other way for them to find out what conditions the teachers are working under. I also don’t think many of them would even think it was any of their business, or care. It just doesn’t concern them.

        As for the eikaiwa’s reputation among teachers, they often recruit from overseas, so the new teachers have no idea what they are getting into until after they arrive, and it usually takes a while for them to realize something is wrong, such as being denied holidays. It takes time and experience to figure out which schools to avoid working for. And all the schools have to do is get warm bodies in the seats. As is so often noted, they don’t really care much about experience or skill. What they want is someone compliant who won’t complain. Thus, the squeaky wheels are either fired or quit. The revolving door is precisely how the ekaiwa have gotten away with so many labor violations.

      • Gordon Graham

        I was referring to media exposure…They’re always eager to jump on a story with a sexually deviant twist. “GABA facilitates sexual predators” “GABA recruits overseas beauties to attract the sexually depraved”…Go to Gaba with those potential headlines to mull around in their collective heads and just see how quickly you get your way. Again, I go back to my original suggestion…a hidden camera and a lawsuit…or threat of one.

      • HayesOose

        Good point: Eikaiwa are not the same as Japan’s prestige manufacturing giants, and a lot (not all) Eikaiwa treat their employees horribly. That’s why a teacher working at GABA should be encouraged to strike out on their own, find their own private students, giving them more power and control over the situation.

      • blondein_tokyo

        That isn’t a very practical suggestion. A better suggestion is better regulation of the industry. Licensing, review of business practices, and more power to unions.

      • HayesOose

        It’s an incredibly practical suggestion, in fact I know quite a few people who have done exactly that, left the eikaiwa and put their own gigs together, and I know none who have gone back. The full time eikaiwa is perhaps a good place to start, and not all of them are that horrible, though I’ve *never* heard anyone with good things to say about GABA, I’ve known teachers at many other places who have had good things to say about their experience. NOVA, for example, and according those I’ve known who taught there, varied wildly in working conditions depending on the location. Same for Bertlitz, same for Aeon.

        However. most people I know who stay here teaching for more than a few years learn that the way to go is freelance, combining gigs that you put together on your own with part time contracts with various vocational/business colleges and the like, and you can easily double the pay you get from a chickenshlt outfit like GABA.

        As for the issue of being disrespected, sexually or otherwise, from students, well. If you are in a position to drop them like hot potatoes, is that not a much better position to be in than hoping that you eikaiwa will stick their necks out for little ol’ you?

        In fact, while sexual harassment is illegal between an employee and an employer, any such harassment from a student that falls short of physical assault is likely perfectly legal. The only defense you have is the administration of the school that took their money, and we can see how well GABA has their instructors’ backs. If there is no middleman, you need only inform the skeevy “student” that you are no longer available for lessons, and you can then move on, secure that if you hustle you can find a nice person to replace the a-hole.

        Your argument, sadly, seems to be that the only solution is the elimination of sexual harassment from Japanese society. Fat chance there. Encourage teachers to fire the companies and students that let it go on…

      • blondein_tokyo

        Someone earlier accused me of having a fatalistic attitude. I hereby hand that torch over to you. LOL. :)

        Seriously though….

        1. The “way to go” is education. Get an advanced degree, and then you can get away from these “ekaiwa.” I did. :)

        2. Gov regulation of the “education” industry, including holding teachers and schools to high standards and making them accountable.

        3. Sorry, call me Ms. Polly Sunshine, but I do think we are slowly but surely winning the fight against sexism (which is what leads to sexual discrimination and harassment) so yes- change the society, little by little, year by year.

        Thanks for the discussion, and I do appreciate your point of view. I just think you’re a bit more pessimistic in areas that I’m optimistic in, and I’m pessimistic in areas you’re optimistic in.

        I do hope that you are right though, and one day the teachers will be empowered enough to fire their companies! Wouldn’t that be just AWESOME! :)

      • HayesOose

        I think I am being optimistic: I have faith that people can strike out on their own and succeed in the teaching business without having to go to a company like GABA for work.

        I was in no way saying that there was nothing that could be done to combat sexism in general or sexual harassment in particular. I was merely saying that the solution for an individual working for an outfit that allows them to be disrespected (sexually or otherwise) might be to find a different outfit to work for. This doesn’t prevent the fight against sexism from taking place.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I understand. It’s definitely something that people should consider, especially if they don’t feel strong enough to stand up to their harassers or stand up to their company.

        I definitely agree that this won’t be solved by one single approach.

      • HayesOose

        That’s a mighty tendentious statement, and it really makes no sense. If you are going it alone, the only person who can stand up to harassers is you, thus, this route would be unsuitable for those who are unwilling or unable to do this.

        The whole point is that you will not be forced to depend on others for this, and also, you’ll get a bigger piece of the action.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Sorry, I don’t see the point in picking my statements to death just to find something you can disagree with. I’m getting the feeling that you’re only trying to butt heads now. Thanks for the discussion; but I am not here to argue.

      • Steve Jackman

        Not only do large Japanese companies lie and falsify documents in Japanese courts, but the judges and court clerks themselves falsify court records. The Japanese judicial system is extremely corrupt. For starters, you can read former judge Segi’s book titled, “Zetsubo no Saibansho” (Courts Without Hope), about the sorry state of affairs within the Japanese judicial system.

      • Gordon Graham

        More sweeping statements to encourage apathy and defeat. Not to mention loathing of the Japanese.

      • Steve Jackman

        Here you go again, Gordan, with another of your McCarthyite comments. Just like McCarthy labeled anyone who disagreed with him a communist and anti-American, you also label anyone who disagrees with you as anti-Japan. You both pander to the worst nationslistic impulses of the people. The fact is that McCarthy did a great deal of damage to America, just like you’re doing damage to Japan. McCarthy was no lover of America and you’re no lover of Japan.

      • Gordon Graham

        Steve, please spare me the American history lesson. I’ve no desire for a vicarious visit to your high school American political history class, nor do I need your American skewed viewpoint on Japan. Haven’t you lot done enough to these people without foisting your American viewpoint and arrogance on them at every turn? Get over yourself, man. Try taking a cue from the Japanese and exercise a little humility sometime rather than telling them to improve they need to be more like you. Oh and as for “labelling” I suggest you go back and review your posts…In response to a legitimate, genuine suggestion to the problem of sexual predators in the workplace you came up with…and I qote: “Who anointed you sole “decider” I should call you Kim Jong-un or Ayatholla! Now get out of here!”
        I don’t mind such ranting as I quite enjoy the irony and the way in which it taints anything you say as impotent and well, arrogant.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Yes, they absolutely do. I have personal experience with this. I don’t want to get into it in detail, but a I took a company to court and they lied their asses off. I ended up getting nothing.

      • Gordon Graham

        Again, this is nothing particularly Japanese.

      • Gordon Graham

        I would assume that most companies would settle out of court rather than have their reputation sullied in the media. As far as I’m concerned, the more media attention the better. This issue needs dragging out into the light. A defeatist position is not helpful.

      • blondein_tokyo

        No, they wouldn’t settle so easily. Look at Nova and Berlitz- the court cases they had over wages and other employee complaints took years to settle. Nova’s reputation wasn’t hurt at all by the lawsuit, it took years of mismanagement and the bottoming out of the economy to finally sink them. And Berlitz is still going strong despite their fight with the union being plastered all over the papers.

        I don’t mean to be fatalistic, just realistic.

      • Gordon Graham

        Wages are one thing, facilitating sexual predators is another.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Possibly. I’m quite interested to see how Gaba responds. What I find very interesting though, is that it has taken a huge article in a major publication for Gaba to be pressed into acting on the problem.

        It’s been a problem FOR YEARS. YEARS, and nothing was done until they appointed those two “representatives” smiling in the picture above, which is obviously too little, too late.

        The instructors who were interviewed were quite clear that so far, Gaba hasn’t taken any steps to really protect them or solve the problem.

        Hopefully, this article will help change that.

      • Gordon Graham

        Agreed. Time for people to use the press or at least the threat of it. I certainly wouldn’t want to send my daughter to a school that facilitates sexual predators. A school skimping on wages that is offering competitive prices I wouldn’t think twice about.

  • Anton Sevilla

    I wonder if it would help (and if it would be allowed) for teachers to personally bring a voice recorder and use it in all classes? I do, and I tell students that it is for keeping track of their progress. But it does have the added effect of deterring and allowing for accurate reporting of verbal sexual harassment (asking the teacher out on dates, personal questions, etc.). Of course it will not prevent the touching/self-touching/staring types, but it might help.

    This is a very important issue to raise, and I think it shines a light on core issues of race and gender in Japan in particular and in the world in general. I hope we will all take this not as a “blame game” but our own contributions to Japan as it evolves into its new role in the 21st century.

    • HayesOose

      Virtually every teacher already has a recording device, easy to use too, called a smartphone. And why a teacher would even ask permission of their company to use it is beyond me. Just do it if you feel the need, the student doesn’t even need to know.

  • Steve Jackman

    Japanese press is just reporting that during the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly’s session on June 18, 2014, several male members of the LDP hurled abuse at Ayaka Shiomura, a 35-year-old member of Your Party, during her speech in the assembly, as what was described to be “monstrous sexual harassment” by one of the other members of the assembly.

    Apparently, Shiomura was in tears as she tried to continue speaking. It is being reported that male members yelled at her, “You are the one who must get married as soon as possible”, and “Can’t you even bear a child?”.

    This highlights once again the extent of sexual harassment suffered by women in Japan at every level.

    • Gordon Graham

      It highlights that the press doesn’t know the difference between sexist and sexual and that they are tolerant of neither. Politics is an ugly game in any country and this most certainly does NOT reflect what happens at “every level” in Japan.

      • blondein_tokyo

        You are right that this is mislabeled. This is abuse of a sexist, rather than sexual, nature.

        But these guys weren’t even censored beyond someone saying, “Don’t do that.” That, I think, shows how easily this sort of thing is brushed aside.

      • Gordon Graham

        The press labelling their comments as “monstrous” is not being tolerant. It’s being critical.

      • Steve Jackman

        Can you try to read first and fire later, instead of the other way around? My original comment clearly says that the word “monstrous” was used to describe the yelling by another assembly member who was present there. The press did come up with the label “monstrous” themselves.

      • Gordon Graham

        I thought my grammar was clear. Perhaps it was not…The press were critical of the verbal outburst to the point of calling it “monstrous”. Does that clarify things for you, Steve?

      • Steve Jackman

        Nope.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I’m very interested to find out what happens next. There have been plenty of instances like this in the past, most notably Yanagisawa calling women “baby making machines” and getting away with it.

        What I mean by “get away with it” is that he wasn’t removed from his position as health minister or feven orced to apologize.

        I’d like to see the men who shouted this lady down forced to bow and apologize to her.

      • Gordon Graham

        It’s politics. All kinds of inappropriate insults are hurled all the time…

      • Steve Jackman

        Gordon, your comments are getting really tiring, since you sound like a broken record. All your comments fall into one of the following three categories:

        1. Deny a problem or issue exists in Japan.
        2. Make light of the problem by saying that it happens all the time, or it happens in other countries too.
        3. Attack anyone you disagree with as being anti-Japan.

        I suggest it’s time for you to change your MO and start being more constructive in your future comments.

      • Gordon Graham

        Here’s what I do, Steve: consider each problem on a case by case basis and consider that all situations and people are different, be sensitive to the fact that this is not Canada and things are done differently here, respect and appreciate the people who help put food in my kid’s mouths. Here’s what I don’t do, Steve: dismiss an entire nation of people by labeling them as racist or sexist, make exaggerated or erroneous claims to facilitate my argument, or stab the people I live and work with in the back. I suppose the reason you’ve worked in several Japanese companies and not one in 10 years is that you’ve opened your opinionated yap, foisting your American version of how things should be far too often and boorishly for your co-workers to take another year of you, so your contract is not renewed. I’m suspect that’s why you feel Japanese companies are racist. When in fact, they just want to be rid of the arrogant interlocutor among them. Perhaps you don’t openly insult the people you live and work with but rather cowardly find outlet for your loathing here on the Internet and take solace in the cacophony of consensus of like-minded malcontents.

      • Steve Jackman

        Typical Stockholm Syndrome and apologist stuff, Gordon. One shouldn’t lose one’s moral compass, values and principles, just because one lives in a foreign country. What you and most Japanese I’ve met fail to realize is that we are part of the human community first and citizens of a country second. After all, national boundries are artificial, but we all shrare this planet.

      • Gordon Graham

        Does your moral compass have a setting for telling the people you live and work with that they are racist, sexist, corrupt and incapable of perceiving foreigners as fully human to their faces? Somehow I don’t think it does, Steve.

      • Steve Jackman

        Only if they can handle it, just the same as telling one’s kids about the birds and bees when they’re ready for it.

      • Gordon Graham

        This is the exactly the position that I find so distasteful in many foreigners here. One of the pedantic parent schooling their naive and foolish children…Oh where would the Japanese be without the likes of you to guide them through their wicked, backward ways.

      • Steve Jackman

        You asked me if I go around telling Japanese people who I know about my displeasure with the state of racism and sexism in Japan, to which I replied, “Only if they can handle it”. Then you go on to say that I act like a parent schooling their naive and foolish children. What kind of dumb and circular logic is that? Sometimes, I wonder if you even read half the stuff I write, or if you even read your own comments before posting them.

      • Gordon Graham

        Guy, whose being disingenuous? You were being condescending and you know it. You’re an arrogant American foisting your ugly loathsome opinion at every turn. “my displeasure at the state of racism in Japan” is quite different from the sentiment and tone of your posts…I enjoin anyone who comes across this to click on your name and visit you past rants on the Japanese and have a good look at half of the stuff you write. “my displeasure at the state of racism in Japan”…Good one, Steve!

      • Steve Jackman

        See, Gordon, this is where you’re wrong, very wrong. My posts are not anti-Japan at all, since I care deeply about the well being of Japan. My comments are anti-sexism, anti-racism, anti-discrimination, anti-corruption, anti-McCarthyism, etc., but you rather seem to prefer all these things. You want to drag Japan and the rest of the world back to the stone ages. We just have a difference of philosophy, but I can’t expect you to understand this, given that you have your blinders on.

      • Gordon Graham

        That’s where you’re wrong, Steve. I don’t want to “drag” Japan anywhere. As an outsider it’s not my place. I’m quite content living the beautiful life I’ve been granted here, coaching hockey, loving my beautiful wife, raising my beautiful kids, enjoying the warm friendship and graciousness of my beautiful hosts. I’ve no impulse to tell them what they should do with their culture, I’m just grateful that they’ve let me mooch a ride in it for these past 27 years…Hopefully they’ll continue to drag me along.

      • Steve Jackman

        Ah, Gordon, that explains everything. Like you wrote, you justify your apathy and indifference towards Japan by saying that you’re just an “outsider” in Japan and are just greatful that they’ve let you “mooch a ride” for 27 years.

        I think its contemptible that you’re content being a free rider in Japan, without caring about the direction the country is headed in. You have no horse in this game and are unconcerned about what happens to Japan in the long-term. You’re happy as long as you personally have a comfortable life here for now. It’s rather apathetic and selfish of you, don’t you think?

        You still call yourself an “outsider” and refer to the Japanese as your “hosts”, in spite of having lived in Japan for 27 years. What does this say about you and about Japan? I suggest you have more self-confidence in yourself and stop treating yourself as a guest in Japan after 27 years. Put a little more skin in the game, become more engaged in what’s happening around you and stop acting like an “outsider”.

      • Gordon Graham

        If I were to relinquish my Canadian citizenship and become Japanese I would no longer consider myself a guest. I’m not about to do that, I’m quite comfortable in my skin. I know who I am, I’m a Canadian. I wouldn’t want to be anything else. Until I can fully make that commitment to being Japanese, then yes, I’m an outsider and keep my trap shut accordingly. Unless you naturalise then you too are an outsider. Wail and mewl all you like…You’re not on the team, guy. You’re just some heckler in the stands.

      • Steve Jackman

        Gordon, you sound like a remnant from another era. These days many people have dual nationalities. You see, in today’s world most people have progressed to the point that they are comfortable belonging to more than one cultures. You yourself are married to a Japanese woman, so your children are half Japanese. Yet, you call yourself an “outsider” and a guest in Japan, even after living here for 27 years. Unbelievable!

        Your Canadian citizenship is just a piece of paper, but you’ve been living in Japan for 27 years, have a Japanese wife and kids who are half Japanese. You’re like that guy at work who responds to an inquiry by a customer by saying, “I don’t know the answer, I just work here.” I cannot respect people who are so detached and disengaged from their immediate surroundings (regardless of what a piece of paper like your passport says).

        I really don’t know what to make of you and your antiquated and outdated way of thinking. I have difficulty carrying on this conversation any longer with someone who considers himself an “outsider” and a guest after having lived and worked in a country for 27 years and who, by his own account in his comment, wants to continue living in Japan (you wrote, “hopefully they’ll (Japan) continue to drag me along). Yes, Gordon, people like you ARE a “drag” on Japan.

      • Gordon Graham

        My being Canadian is much more than a piece of paper, Steve. That’s exactly what you don’t get.

      • Steve Jackman

        Sure, you go on with living your entire life as being a guest in Japan, Gordon. And while you’re at it, why don’t you frame that lovely Canadian passport of yours and hang it on the wall in your living room. I, for one, have no interest in going through my entire life being comotose.

      • Steve Jackman

        Gordon, your comment strikes me as absurd. You’re labelling anyone who does not possess a Japanese passport as an “outsider”, who’s opinion about Japan does not count and who has no right to be critical of anything relating to Japan. Never mind that many of the non-Japanese posters here are long-term or permanent residents of Japan, work and pay taxes in Japan, speak Japanese, and have Japanese spouses and kids who were born in Japan. In your book, they are all “outsiders” and “guests” in Japan, without any right to have opinions about Japan based on their many years of living here. Do you not see the absurdity in your argument?

        What is especially ironic is that the Japanese themselves are masters of generalizations about all things non-Japanese and tend to lump everything non-Japanese into one group. For many Japanese, the world is a binary place made up of Japan (Nihonjinron) and foreign. You don’t understand something this basic, in spite of having lived in Japan for 27 years. Yet, you dismiss comments about the Japanese by any non-Japanese poster here who you disagree with as invalid “generalizations” about Japan.

        I don’t know if you truly don’t get it, or if you’re just trolling. I suspect, it’s a little of both.

      • Gordon Graham

        Yes, I agree it would seem hypocritical and contradictory of me to accept the Japanese as labelling foreigners as foreigners. But I accept that because that’s what they are (unless they naturalise)…It’s like labelling a horse a horse. If a Japanese person were to say foreigners are criminals I would correct them and say no that’s ridiculous, most foreigners are not…That’s an unfair and harmful generalisation. So you see, Stever…Things are not always as absurd as they may seem.

      • Steve Jackman

        OK, so if I told you tomorrow that I had naturalized and become a Japanese citizen, then you’re saying that my comments here, which you have until now dismissed, will suddenly start carrying more weight. It just seems very strange to me that a piece of paper (i.e., one’s passport) is more important to you than the merits of a person’s arguments.

      • Gordon Graham

        What you call a piece of paper I call a full commitment. Both you know and I know very well, Steve, if North Korea were to invade Japan tomorrow, you would be on the first plane home.

      • Steve Jackman

        So, it is true then that you see the world in black and white terms only. You either make “full commitment”, or you don’t exist. The problem with that is that you’re a hypocrite, since you yourself are not making a full commitment to either Japan or Canada. You still call yourself an “outsider” and a “guest” in Japan, even though, you’ve lived here for 27 years. You also possibly cannot make a “full commitment” to Canada, since you’ve been absent from Canada for 27 years, and according to yourself you do not plan to return to Canada. You are delusional if you think that just holding on to your Canadian passport means that you are somehow making a “full commitment” to Canada. Dude, “full commitment” means much more than holding on to a passport, so get real!

      • Gordon Graham

        You exist as an outsider. You’re a gaijin, Steve. That’s the current term and sentiment of the world in which you live. What was that about ignoring the facts, again?

      • Steve Jackman

        Don’t project your own low self esteem, insecurities, apathy, lack of self confidence, self loathing and lack of self worth on to me. I have no use for such a negative and self defeating way of thinking.

        You can go on considering yourself a perpetual outsider, unworthy and inconsequential, but you aren’t about to infect me with your virus. I hope for your sake that you can find a measure of self worth and stop holding yourself in such contempt. Quit thinking of yourself as a nobody, Gordon.

      • Gordon Graham

        As usual, you’ve got it the other way around there, Stever…I’m brimming with self-confidence and self esteem, so much so I’ve no need for the Japanese to validate my sense of self worth nor do I have the need to forge a new identity as the likes of “blonde-in-japan”, “Kitchijen” or “Gaijin Toy” do. My identity is not wrapped up in Japan because I am who I am long before I set foot on her shores…I like being Canadian. I don’t want to be Japanese.

      • Steve Jackman

        There you go again with your old and tired binary way of thinking. Gordon, don’t limit yourself to looking at the world in black and white terms, since there are many shades of gray and vibrant colors in this world. It is your own constricted mind that puts so much emphasis on “or” instead of “and”. Try to explore the power of “and” over the limitations of “or”. You don’t have to select Japan or Canada, since you can be both Canadian and Japanese. Get out there, live a little, don’t hold yourself back with negative feelings, it’s a beautiful morning outside today.

      • Gordon Graham

        How magnanimous you are to paint yourself as a brightly coloured peacock, Steven. Too bad you only have black and white left over to colour the Japanese. As an aside, I’ve noticed in the news that there was such as mass of criticism about the sexist remarks directed at Ms. Shiomura that a RECORD 44,000 signatures for a campaign to identify and punish those who made the remarks was recorded…As well such an OUTCRY of CRITICISM such as “those remarks were rude to women” came (from JAPANESE) that Your Party member Shun Otokita’s blog was overrun to the point it had to be temporarily shut down. Tolerant indeed!!!As we Canadians say…Have a nice day

      • Steve Jackman

        The signatures collected which you refer to were in response to the fact that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government assembly refused to accept Shimura’s petition to punish the assemblymen responsible for harassing her while she was speaking.

        Gordon, keep your head up. Don’t let them treat you like a second-class resident even after you’ve lived in Japan for 27 years. Above all, stop referring to yourself as an “outsider” and a “guest”, especially since you have no intention of returning to Canada.

        See, you may be a good ice hockey coach, but a good debater you aren’t. If this was an actual moderated debate, you would have lost a long time ago. If this was a chess match you would be in checkmate. But, you don’t even realize this. The only reason I bring this up is because you’ve been trolling, following and trailing me on these comments sections for quite some time now.

      • Gordon Graham

        It’s not a debate, Steven. It’s me expressing my honest feelings. I’m not trying to win anything. I’m simply saying I find your continued dismissal of the Japanese deplorable…to the point I feel compelled to level a good ol FU in your direction. FU, Steve, is all I’m saying. Also, that should be if this “were”, Steven. Perhaps you might want to visit Gaba, yourself.

      • Steve Jackman

        Now, now, no need for FUs, let’s all stay civil here.

      • Gordon Graham

        Just clarifying things for you, Steven. In the most Canadian of ways.

      • Steve Jackman

        Most other Canadians I know have a vocabulary which goes beyond FU.

      • Gordon Graham

        I can see you haven’t been around a hockey rink.

      • Steve Jackman

        Gordon Graham, stop playing games by changing the name on your posts to “Guest” from “Gordon Graham”. Don’t have the guts? Leave them there for all to have a record of your trolling.

      • Gordon Graham

        Steve, I’m flattered that you review my posts. But aren’t you wasting precious time in which you could be further carving the (how did you put it?) “nerdy, disgusting” Japanese male?

      • Gordon Graham

        Well, Steven, if you’d like to test my fortitude I’m certainly up for it. We could settle this in a Canadian way.

      • Steve Jackman

        Gordon, why do you keep going back and editing your old posts to change the name on them from “Gordon Graham” to “Guest”? Seems a little cowardly of you to disown your own posts. Or, are you afraid your inappropriate comments will get you banned from The Japan Times?

      • Gordon Graham

        I attempted to delete comments I regretted writing. In retrospect I thought they were too harsh. Heat of the moment and all…The delete function on this site only substitutes Guest for one’s name.

      • Steve Jackman

        Gordon Graham, you wrote, “I attempted to delete comments I regretted writing. In retrospect I thought they were too harsh. Heat of the moment and all…”. Well, Gordon, what does that show about your maturity? One needs to think first and post comments second, instead of the other way around, like you do. You’ve just shot down whatever little credibility you had here.

      • Gordon Graham

        Steven, you’re mistaken if you think for a moment that I seek the validation of my opinions from the likes of you. I realize that your prejudice and hatred are so deeply ingrained that you’re beyond persuasion from your own loathsome ideas by any argument credible or otherwise. I’m certain you will continue to harangue those who don’t consider the Japanese, as you do, to be “nerdy and repulsive” with your fixed diatribe of slander regardless of the situation. I’m sure it would be wonderful for you if I were banned from the Japan Times (an insignificant matter to me), then you would never be contradicted and you and your fellow barking seals could comfort one another in and endless cacophony of consensus. Cheers, Steven. Have a lovely day.

      • Gordon Graham

        I spend summers in Canada, I still pay taxes to Canada, I vote, I represent Canada in Japan, I coach ice hockey, I’m an ambassador of my country’s culture, I take elite Japanese teams to Canada every winter for hockey tournaments, I’m growing my sport abroad…I eat steak and pancakes with sirop d’erable on my sausages, I read Robertson Davies and Douglas Coupland, listen to the Tragically Hip and Leonard Cohen…I say “eh” and I speak French…I fish and canoe as well as waterski… I will retire in Canada. I’ll be buried in Canada. If some nation were to attack Canada, I’d be on the first plane HOME. My commitment to Japan is doing my job as best I can while honouring the rules regulations and customs of the country in which I’m a visitor.

      • Steve Jackman

        Somehow, I doubt that Canada will call upon someone your age in the event it is attacked, so it’s a mute point. You’re also contradicting yourself on your retirement. You earlier said that you came to Japan as an adult, have lived here for 27 years and hope Japan continues to “drag” you along. Planning on living to 200, eh?

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m 53. I’m sure you meant “moot” point, Steven. Haven’t you contacted Gaba, yet?

      • Steve Jackman

        No need to get all worked up about a typo, it’s been corrected now.

      • Gordon Graham

        “Typo”…That’s cute. That’s what Cam said, too.

      • blondein_tokyo

        That’s cultural relativism. The only way to support the claim that sexism in one culture is not acceptable, and then say the same thing is normal or acceptable in another culture is to admit you have different standards for individual cultures, and that you don’t hold certain cultures as responsible for their bad behavior as you do others.

        Personally, I think Japan can do better. I hold it to high standards precisely because I respect it and its people.

        Anyone who dismisses institutionalized sexism or racism and says, “Well, that’s just how they do things here, and we (foreigners) shouldn’t criticize just because it’s not our way.” is basically calling Japan a sexist , racist country that is incapable of, and has no hope of, ever improving itself.

      • Gordon Graham

        Often times culture is relevant. Some cultures have more clearly defined roles and customs concerning the sexes. For example, in Japan it’s common for the man to surrender over all the bank cards and money to his wife who is the head of the household (this is the case in my family…in which I reluctantly receive a meagre allowance barely enough to buy coffee at the rink). I would have been adamantly opposed to this custom back home, but as I married a Japanese woman and have made a home in Japan, I relented. Thanks to her astute husbandry, I now have a home, a luxury automobile and bi-annual trips back home to spend summers in Canada. If I had insisted on having it my way, my money would have gone like water through my hands. Out of curiosity, I asked my wife whether or not she serves tea at work. She said that she does. I asked her how she felt about that. She said what do you mean. I asked her if she felt it weren’t sexist. She said with some surprise…Westerners seem to think serving tea is demeaning, I don’t know why. Now, I’m sure you would love to come along and hold her to your high standards and tell her exactly why it’s demeaning. Perhaps you can do away with the whole tea ceremony tradition while you’re at it…after all we now have Starbucks

      • blondein_tokyo

        There is a difference between a guy voluntarily giving over his paycheck for his wife to take care of (chosing to take on a traditional gender role) and a man being forced to give over his paycheck because (for example) his wife thinks he’s too stupid to be able to handle finances, and besides, it’s not a “manly” thing to do. Particularly if there were social pressure for him to do so, with articles in the newspapers urging men to allow their wives to take care of the finances, peer pressure by people outside the family, and the constant message from society that men are too stupid to take care of finances.

        If your wife is happy serving tea at her office, then I don’t see how it is a problem. On the other hand, if her job description did not include serving tea, and she were asked to do it simply because she is the woman in the room, that would be sexism whether or not she minds. Forcing women into traditional gender roles and benign sexism (i.e., men paying for women’s meals) are both still sexism, whether or not it actually troubles the person.

        Cultural relativism is not morally or logically defensible. If you go down that path, you make way for people to, for example, defend other cultural practices such as FGM (female genital mutilation). The same logical thought process that allows you to dismiss sexual harassment as just a “cultural difference” is the same one that is used to abuse women and girls all over the world.

        Have a think about that.

      • Gordon Graham

        I think you are over exaggerating to prove a point. Comparing FGM with pouring tea is like saying I subscribe to capital punishment for jaywalking because I accept that laws are necessary in society. Some customs are too extreme and cruel to be tolerated.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I’m not comparing the two. Let me explain.

        Cultural relativism is the belief that you cannot judge one culture by another culture’s standards. All cultural beliefs are neither right nor wrong; they just are what they are. You have been using that to defend Japan’s stance on working women and sexism in general. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but you did say, “Often times culture is *relevant*. Some cultures have more clearly defined roles and customs concerning the sexes.”

        This to me indicates you are embrasing cultural relativism, and, in essence, suggesting that there is no objective morality to judge by, so we therefore cannot judge that any particular cultural practices are wrong or better than others. As you said, “culture is relevant”.

        This means, then, that you are embracing a point of view that has been used to *justify* cultural practices all the way from sexism to homophobia to animal abuse to FGM. It is the one argument trotted out time and again by people seeking to defend the most abhorrent cultural practices. That is my point – that cultural (and moral) relativism is a very difficult position to defend, as logically speaking, you can’t say in one breath “culture is relevant” and in another condemn a cultural practice that is in conflict with your own cultural beliefs. You can’t cherry pick; it’s either “culture is relevant” or “cultures should be judged objectively”.

        Personally speaking, I base my beliefs on objective standards. I think there are *some* moral absolutes, and one of them is that discrimination in any form (homophobia; racism; sexism; et al) is wrong.

        Now, if you can come up with an argument that show cultural relativism is justifiable, I’m quite interested in hear it.

      • Gordon Graham

        From what standpoint are you judging objectivity exactly? You say “objective” standards. What if raising children were the pinnacle of what humans could aspire to. What if raising an emotionally stable, grounded, moral human being were considered the most important role anyone could possibly have in society? What if the assembly member shouted out “You should be prime minister!!!” Really, now, Blondie…how objective are your views?

      • blondein_tokyo

        I’m no longer sure you are discussing this in good faith.

        The topic at hand is cultural relativism, whether it is defensible, and if so, how.

        Don’t change the subject. My views on raising children aren’t the issue here. Whether or not sexual harassment is ever justifiable by any cultural standards is.

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m referring to objectivity. If you were Japanese you would be among the tens of thousands of voices outraged over Suzuki’s comments, but unlikely making sweeping generalisations about “the Japanese”. Your view on this matter is that of a foreign woman. That colours your opinion.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I do not think I made any sweeping generalizations that could not, or would not, also be made by a Japanese person. If you read the last two front page articles in the Japan Times, for example, or if you have watched the TV news programs each night, you’re going to hear the same things said by Japanese women, as well as men. They didn’t feel the need to quantify their remarks and neither did I, because only a listener with an uncharitable ear and an agenda of his own would interpret those remarks as an accusation that ALL Japanese men are sexist, that there has never been any progress towards equality, or that all companies tolerate sexual harassment.

        But if it pleases you, let me go ahead and quantify my remarks in a way that (I hope) can’t be misunderstood:

        Sexual harassment is a problem in Japan, just as it is a problem in many other countries. While there has been good progress over the last 20 years or so, there still remain *some* Japanese *people* who are of the view that women aren’t equal and who oppose equal rights in areas such as employment. Sexual harassment and discrimination still happen, despite the clear rules and regulations that have been put in place, and it is *sometimes* tolerated under certain circumstances or by certain people who continue, despite the very good public information campaigns, to hold sexist views. Japan, like many other counties, still has a ways to go before the society can really be considered equal.

        How was that?

        Your assertion that I am biased simply because I’m not Japanese is not backed up by anything I’ve actually said, either. You have had no prior communications with me by which to judge my comments here, you don’t know me well enough to know how I feel about Japan, and there is nothing in any of my posts that evidence any such prejudice.

        However, I do think there is ample evidence you yourself carry an anti-foreign bias. You constantly and consistently accuse the foreign posters here of anti-Japanese bias on little or no basis, jumping to conclusions with little or even no evidence of bias, and make the automatic assumption that anyone who criticizes Japan *must* be biased because, well, GAIJIN DAYO.

        What you are missing here is that I actually love Japan, and criticize it in the hopes that getting such topics out in the open will encourage change. Additionally, I’ve lived here my entire adult life, and will live here indefinitely, so I do have an investment in the future of the country, and as such, I think I have just as much of a right to reasonable criticism of the country as does a Japanese person.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Of course. But that isn’t the point. The topic of discussion is sexism and sexual harassment, and you are trying to make the claim that it is not accepted or tolerated. This incident shot holes in your argument, and frankly you are shooting holes in it yourself by trying to brush this off as an everyday occurrence in the world of politics, when clearly it is not. It’s a gendered insult aimed at *women*. It’s not the same thing as, for example, politicians arguing over policy.

        This kind of behavior is utterly unacceptable, and there’s no excuse for it particularly in the context in which it happened. It would be appropriate for the hecklers to apologize or make some kind of gesture of contrition. It would show clearly that this behavior won’t be tolerated and that they take sexism seriously.

      • Gordon Graham

        It was a flippant remark. I regret writing it.

      • Gordon Graham

        I guess the incident supported my argument after all…the sexism wasn’t “tolerated”.

      • blondein_tokyo

        No, it really doesn’t. For one thing, it took three days before someone stepped up, and only ONE guy came forward and had to be *forced* into apologizing rather than coming forward on his own. Additionally, he “offered” to resign, but so far hasn’t actually done so, nor has he been punished in any way by his party. Abe hasn’t said a word either, other than it is “regrettable”.

        I would not say that this case is proof in any way that sexism is not tolerated in the greater scheme of things. There are still plenty of cases that do not get this much publicity, that happen every single day to people less famous, less public, and less able to draw attention to the problem. And I am not at all happy about the way this was handled.

        I’d like to ask you an honest question, and please don’t think this is an attack, as it is not meant to be. But you seem to be dismissing and trying to undermine my and other women’s experiences of sexual harassment in favor of your own personal narrative. When I rely experiences or examples, you dismiss them and make excuses and/or seem almost disbelieving. As such, you come off as being almost an apologist for sexual harassment and sexism. Is that your intention? Because, in case you didn’t realize, that is how you are coming across.

      • Gordon Graham

        “Forced”…by the society that according to you is “tolerant” of sexual harassment. To answer your question, I’m merely guarding against sweeping generalisations that colour the Japanese as a certain kind of people. You offer up your experiences and I’ve countered by telling people don’t think that that’s the way most Japanese people think and feel as my experience differs greatly. If there were only posts from you, Steve Jackman, Kitchijien et al, then people would have a skewed view of Japan that doesn’t give the whole picture.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I can understand why you would want to make sure anyone reading would have several points of view to be able to get a complete picture. I also understand that you people to know that some women are quite content with embracing traditional gender roles, and aren’t unhappy with the status quo; and that not all Japanese men are sexist and don’t practice or are tolerant of harassment. I completely agree with you, and fully understand your reasoning in wanting to clarify these points for anyone who might not have enough knowledge of Japan to realize this.

        However, the way to do so is not to completely dismiss womens’ experiences or make excuses for the sexual harassment that you know does occur in Japan. If you are to be intellectually honest, you have to concede that Japan does have a poor record in regards to gender equality and discrimination.

        The fact is, Japan DOES have a sexism problem, and the “Not All Men” defense is not helpful and in fact stymies the conversation that needs to take place in order to ensure the problem is fully and completely addressed.

        Just FYI, I have a lot of respect for Japanese culture, and definitely think there are many things Japan does better than the West – sexual equality just isn’t one of them. As much as I love my adopted country, I feel that this is at least one aspect that I need to vigorously criticize.

        To clarify, I feel the exact same way about sexism and gender inequality in other countries, too.

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m pretty sure that when I offered up my wife’s genuine opinions and experience they were demised out of hand…Perhaps you might want to review what you wrote.

      • blondein_tokyo

        First off, “You ignored my experiences so I can ignore yours” is not a valid argument.

        Secondly, I didn’t dismiss your wife’s viewpoint. In fact, I said in response to your anecdote that she had never experienced sexism with “Just because it *didn’t happen to her* it doesn’t mean it never happens to anyone” and “If serving tea is part of her job, then I don’t see any problem.” It’s clear, then, that I did not dismiss her experiences.

        Again, I’m no longer sure you are discussing this in good faith. You have a habit of ignoring my points and bringing up unrelated arguments, which from my point of view look like red herrings and attempts to derail the discussion so that you do not have to actually address the points I have made. I’m afraid that if you continue in this vein, I’ll have to end the discussion.

        As I said: If you are to be intellectually honest, you have to concede that Japan
        does have a poor record in regards to gender equality and
        discrimination. While there are many things to admire about Japan, it’s record on gender equality is not one of them.

        If you are going to continue to make excuses for Japan based on cultural relativism, then you are going to need to make a good case as to how sexual discrimination is justifiable. I think that will be quite difficult, because I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that by any objective standard any kind of discrimination is wrong.

      • Gordon Graham

        If by cultural relativism you mean that we gravitate to the beliefs and mores of the culture in which we were raised then yes I would agree that we as outsiders can say the Japanese are this or the Japanese are that. But we can only understand the Japanese as outsiders, because we subscribe to different beliefs and mores and those beliefs and mores will always colour our perceptions. I apologize for accusing you of dismissing my wife’s experience and point of view. That was another poster. Je suis tres desole…

      • Gordon Graham

        The debate needs not be “sexism in Japan in comparison with that in other countries”. I suppose if you’re from another country that would be the natural thing to do. I believed it’s better served to tackle sexism within the parameters of the specific nuances of the culture in question. When I suggested that the response to this incident wouldn’t have happened 25 years ago…as an indicator that things are indeed changing. That quickly got shot down as being not nearly fast enough, Japan is far behind West! Well, things are different here for a variety of complex reasons. Sexual harassment IS being dealt with, however. Things ARE changing…

      • blondein_tokyo

        I agree here. While I do think it is fair to say that “the USA/EU/UK/wherever” is ahead of Japan in regards to gender equality, I don’t think we need to compare Japan to the west in a way that says “they aren’t doing it right” or “they aren’t doing it fast enough”. As you said, “Well, things are different here for a variety of complex reasons.” – they are working within the parameters of their culture, so obviously, the way they come to gender equality is not going to be by the same process or at the same speed.

        I do think things are improving, and am happy to give the country credit for that.

      • Gordon Graham

        The man who shouted her down was forced to bow and apologise to her.

      • Steve Jackman

        I wouldn’t be so quick to say that it was solely sexist and not sexual in nature. We don’t know all the things that were yelled at her by her male collegues. It is quite possible that some of them were sexual harassment and those comments have not been fully reported in the press.

      • Gordon Graham

        Yes, let us have Steve’s imagination navigate the rest of this scene. The narrative must be fed.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I’m not discounting that possibility. I’m just going by what I have heard so far, and will revise if any new information comes up.

  • Gordon Graham

    Congratulations, Rick! You win the pool for first “Nanjing” mention!

  • HayesOose

    What is a “rationalized western country” exactly? Sounds like a concept cooked up in six-pack.

  • Gordon Graham

    Hotess bars are for companionship not sex

  • Gordon Graham

    Agreed…and should give one pause before making sweeping general statements like “the Japanese are tolerant of sexual harassment”

  • Gordon Graham

    Perhaps it’s not legally prohibited because interpretations of it are so varied and often vague. “Nice smile” may end up getting someone fired. In terms of decorum Japanese society tends to rely on understanding one’s responsibility within the group and expectations within a given situation. It’s very much a team mentality. In a multicultural society laws are necessitated because of the great difference in upbringing and discord of belief.

    • Kichijen

      Your comment doesn’t pertain to the point you were trying to make: that sexual harassment in Japan isn’t a particular problem in comparison to other places. The UN’s request clearly contradicts that assertion.
      Saying that sexual harassment is varied and vague is a weak argument against criminalising it. You could say the same of rape, the same of the difference between murder and manslaughter/ different degrees of murder, the same for whether an image is art or pornography, of when a foetus is legally too old to abort and myriad other difficult-to-define circumstances for which Japanese laws exist.
      Japanese society does rely on everybody following the rules, and as such, when people don’t do that and abuse their power, there are often no systems in place to deal with them. That is a specifically Japanese problem, so this lack of sanctions and guidelines for dealing with sexual harassment is a specifically Japanese problem.

      • Gordon Graham

        rape, murder are clear…nothing vague or left up to interpretation about them. I noticed that the UN report stated that girls should be encouraged to pursue what are considered traditionally male studies such as math and science. My daughter who is a 2nd grade high school student was encouraged to go into math and science at her high school as she has an affinity for both and wants to become a veterinarian. High schools streamline kids into either maths and sciences or the arts from 2nd year. So, again, my family’s experience contradicts the UN report. The UN is also an organisation that is fat with administrators that are bent on justifying its existence.

  • Gordon Graham

    I’m also relying heavily on what my wife tells me.

  • Gordon Graham

    Why in the world would you treat yourself as a “Gaijin Toy” by brandishing that moniker? Are you wallowing in victimhood?

    • Steve Jackman

      Gordon, you’ve hit a new low in your comments by attacking the choice of the moniker/handle of another poster. What can your comment possibly add to the discussion here about the issue of sexual harassment in Japan?

  • Gordon Graham

    The US? Isn’t that the country that harbours marines who rape 12 year old Japanese girls?

  • Cam

    Well said.

  • Gordon Graham

    This is just wrong on so many levels. Firstly, it intentionally perpetuates the myth that Japanese treat foreigners as 2 dimensional entities of amusement, which is BS. Outsider doesn’t mean less human as you and Steve, below here, would like to have people believe. It merely means “not Japanese”. As an outsider, I’m treated like a Canadian who is an expert in his field and given the respect of a sensei accordingly. Secondly, you’re being guilty of exactly what you’re accusing the Japanese of: writing them off as a certain kind of callous people i.e. 2 dimensional. Finally, if you’re going to walk around with a “kick me” sign on your back don’t be surprised if you get a boot in the britches. Also, assuming what other people think and do tends to make them appear what you believe them to be not what they are.

    • Steve Jackman

      Gordon, your arguments are becoming increasingly incoherent, nonsensical and hypocritical. You are basically saying that one should only be able to experess one’s opinion about a culture if the person is in possession of a passport from that country. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

      According to you, if you don’t have a passport from a country, you are forever labelled as an “outsider” and “guest”, your opinions do not count for anything, and you should just shut up. If one follows your logic, the world would essentially stop communicating with one another.

      Since you are so proud to be a Canadian, do you know the countless times your own Canadian government has condemned actions by other countries in the U.N. and other forums? Do you know the numerous times Canada has been involved militarily on foreign soil? Do you know how many times your own Canadian government has supported economic embargoes on other countries? The Canadian prime ministers, politicians and members of the armed forces involved in these actions did NOT possess the passports of the foreign countries which were effected by their actions, yet this did not stop your fellow Canadians. But, you have a problem with foreigners in Japan, many of whom have lived in this country for years, have permanent residency, pay Japanese taxes, speak Japanese, and have Japanese spouses and kids, when they express their opinions about Japan? Your comments are just plain dumb.

      • Gordon Graham

        I find it galling that my government has the nerve to comment on the ethics or morals of another country when it has yet to apologize for tearing the children of aborigionals from their mothers arms to be delivered to raping priests because their culture was deemed “too savage”

      • Steve Jackman

        Well, don’t you think you should do something to try to change the “galling” activities of your Canadian government, in that case? Oh, I forgot, you’ve been too busy for the last 27 years being an “outsider” and “guest” here in Japan.

      • Gordon Graham

        I exercise my right to vote. I also remind my fellow Canadians of this when they try to take the moral high ground in attacking another culture,.

      • Gordon Graham

        I find it ironic and distasteful when a guest whose backyard is so full of dogdirt that one is hard pressed to find a single green patch on which to step tells their host who has a lawn that looks like a golf green that they should really do something about that mess way over there in the corner…it’s disgusting

      • Steve Jackman

        Gordon, this has got to be your funniest comment yet. Do you not realize that Japan considers the U.S. to be its top ally in the world, its protector and savior, and is always seeking America’s approval for pretty much everything it does? I guess, geopolitics, economics, world history and politics is not your forte, but trolling is.

    • Christopher Glen

      I’m afraid gaijin toy is right. Many schools in Japan treat ALTs as gaijin objects. Kancho (poking ones fingers, like a pistol, into another’s backside) As well as inappropriate questions about genitalia – ALTs get them all. Complaints will usually get laughed off, or the students will get gently told not to do it again. Does the school ever take the matter up with the kid(s’) parents? Nope

  • Gordon Graham

    Perhaps in Roppongi that’s so. I would imagine it IS so. Not in Kushiro where I live where they are neighbourhood bars to drop in for a drink and a bit of karaoke. Ok, so let’s concede that there is prostitution and human trafficking. Does human trafficking mean the Japanese are human traffickers or does it mean the Yakuza are human traffickers and is there much difference of exploiting the poverty of a girl from Laos as there is exploiting that of a girl from Mississippi, both are equally appalling?

  • Gordon Graham

    Japan grants entertainment visas…the Yakuza exploit that. In America they’re exempt from the ugly title of “human traffickers” by dint of the fact that there is enough poverty to be exploited within its own boarders. Of course, this doesn’t address the issue of sexual harassment in Japan. It just makes reports from America ironic.

  • Gordon Graham

    Who said Japanese culture was superior to Canadian culture? My wife is Japanese, she married a Canadian. I’m a Canadian living in a foreign land. My thinking is Canadian, my taste in food, music, literature, art and sport is Canadian. My kids are Japanese Canadian and are raised as such. My son gravitates to things Canadian, my daughter, things Japanese. I’m an expert in the most identifiable aspect of my culture. I’m proud to be a representative of it. I’m grateful of the people who appreciate me and treat me with the utmost respect. I return that respect in turn…and defend their honour vehemently if you hadn’t already noticed. If I had to make a choice, I would choose my culture. Fortunately, I don’t. I’m afforded the best of both worlds right here in my little Shangri la called Kushiro. It seems to me that it’s the likes of you and Steve and Kitchijen who need to come to grips with your wannabe longings. Unless you change your citizenship then you are in fact an “outsider”. It’s not a shameful thing…It’s just a simple fact. If North Korea suddenly attacked Japan, you know and I know very well you would be on the first plane home.

  • Gordon Graham

    Yes, the Japanese press were appalled at the behaviour of the LDP members and took them to task for it accordingly…they were hardly “tolerant”, wouldn’t you agree?

    • Kichijen

      The fact that members of the leading political party see fit to publicly heckle a female colleague with sexist comments indicates a deeply engrained problem, wouldn’t you agree?
      The press may have taken the LDP to task for this, but I wonder how on Earth there are people in political office in Japan who think this sort of thing is acceptable.

      • Gordon Graham

        Politicians have many unscrupulous louts among them (throughout the world). You want to attribute the sentiment of “the Japanese” to those people…I want you to consider there are voices that vehemently oppose those loutish sentiments. So let us dispose of the sweeping generalisations shall we.

      • Kichijen

        You can’t comment about the state of a society without making generalisations. Of course there are plenty of non-sexist Japanese people who don’t participate in harassment, just as there are people who don’t participate in gun crime in America, but does this mean that America doesn’t have a particular problem with gun crime? No. Does the existence of rational and respectful individuals in Japan mean that Japan doesn’t have a particular sexual harassment problem? No.
        I never said, nor would I, that most people in Japan are sexually harassing people. My point is that the cultural tendency to avoid confrontation means that when it occurs it often goes unchecked or the response is inadequate. The UN is on my side, there’s a mountain of news stories and evidence to back me up.
        You simply won’t listen to the evidence at hand and counter only with the anecdotal evidence that you earlier decried as irrelevant. You’ve shown no real facts or evidence, you respond with comments that are based on personal opinion, without anything to back them up (the UN is apparently irrelevant in everything it does because you say so). You’re a troll, plain and simple. Your last few comments have actually made me laugh because they are so incredulous. I’m done, you’re an absolute joke.

      • Gordon Graham

        I’ve not only conceded that these things happen but have offered a genuine response on how to deal with such cases. My guard gets up against sweeping generalised statements such as “the cultural tendency to avoid confrontation means it often goes unchecked”. This kind of unfair, dismissive prejudice does nothing but invite disdain for the Japanese and does little to address the situation at hand. I’m suggesting all situations are unique and should be dealt with accordingly. You and the likes of you are taking the above article as a plumb opportunity to admonish “the Japanese”, en masse and little else. What is your solution to the above problem, specifically? I’d like to know…And you accuse me of trolling.

      • Steve Jackman

        Gordon, you’re being accused of trolling, because you ARE trolling.

      • Gordon Graham

        If trolling means challenging sweeping generalisations of condemnation then, yes

      • Steve Jackman

        I’m glad you admitted that you’re trolling, Gordon.

      • Steve Jackman

        Gordon does not understand that when someone makes a generalization, they don’t mean that it applies to 100 percent of the people without any exception. It merely means that the statement applies to either a vast majority of people or to more than one would generally expect. This point goes right over Gordon’s head. If one were to listed to Gordon, the world would essentially stop communicating with each other, since one could only express an opinion about anything if one possessed a passport from that country first. I think Gordon should go back to his native Canada and put his efforts to stoping Canada’s military, diplomatic and economic intervention in other countries affairs, since the Canadian prime minister, politicians and members of the armed forces do not possess foreign passsports for these countries to justify their actions.

      • Gordon Graham

        I understand when someone rains down generalisations and nothing but to portray someone as they see fit…

      • Steve Jackman

        It’s better than trolling.

  • Gordon Graham

    Your grammar is unclear. Run, don’t walk to the Gaba school nearest you.

  • Gordon Graham

    Telling people about your own culture is quite different from telling people what they should do with theirs…

    • Steve Jackman

      Gordon, you seem to think that cultures are frozen in time and never change. The fact is that cultures are always evolving and absorbing new things, concepts and people. Is this too much for you to understand?

      • Gordon Graham

        I can see the streets littered with McDonald’s and Starbucks just as well as you can…

  • Gordon Graham

    Says “Gaijin Toy”

    • Steve Jackman

      Gordon, can you move beyond a poster’s choice of a handle and respond to the substance of his comment? I for one can appreciate the sarcasm and humor in Gaijin Toy’s choice of his handle. Got a sense of humor, Gordon?

      • Gordon Graham

        I find humour in irony, Steve. I also take great delight when I’ve been proved to be right.

  • Gordon Graham

    Have you seen the news today…a RECORD number of signatures were recorded calling for those who made the sexist comments to Ms.Shiomura to be identified and punished.

  • Gordon Graham

    If you turn on your TV, you can now see the press crucifying the LDP…deep bows and apologies to follow. Hardly tolerant wouldn’t you agree.

  • The American

    Why do people complain about GABA? Independent contract work not your thing? Then why did you sign up for the job???

    DOn’t like teaching English in Japan? Why come here? Go back home and apply at Wal*Mart!

  • HayesOose

    I remember *my* first beer….

  • Gordon Graham

    Guy, I know it’s late, but you’re slipping. And you showed such promise with the wife jab…Anyway, Cam Needy, no NEED to justify yourself to me. No one really cares about anyone’s comments but their own anyway.

  • HayesOose

    Can: simply put, you’re a bore. However, you’re also a bit of a tool, and tools are fun to mock. Don’t get upset if people don’t put great effort into it as they mock you and your pointless little meandering a and imaginings. It’s *commensurate* to what you bring to the table.

  • Cam

    Gordie, my simple minded friend, glad you felt it necessary to stay awake to spew more toxic crap, and here I thought the elderly went to bed early. As you already mentioned, no one has ever or will ever want to jab your wife, except maybe the extremely desperate. I think old age is starting to take it’s toll on your feeble brain, you should look for a nursing home sooner rather than later. Peace!

  • Cam

    Would you look at that, the 20 dollar an hour English teacher knows a big word! Wonders never cease to amaze me, give yourself a pat on the back lad.

  • HayesOose

    Here’s a hint for you Can: We, and by “we” I mean teachers working in Japan, for the most part don’t get paid in “dollars,” be they Canadian, Australian, Hong Kong or US. We get paid in yens. Now, I’m pretty sure you don’t have access to my pay records, but if I thought you did, I’d direct you to have your mommy or another competent adult work out the exchange rates for you.

    But you don’t know how much I make. Try this: avoid calculating prices in Japan from yen to dollars. It makes you look like a tourist. Nothing says “fresh off the boat” quite like “I paid eight dollars for a beer!”

  • Cam

    Konban wa HayesOose baka san, ja wakata…ichi ji kan, ni sen yen dayone? If you cant work out a simple exchange rate average…then you are stupider than I gave you credit for. Also, it’s yen mate, not yens. Wow, speechless. Move along son, 20 dollars here, or 10 dollars in your own country it’s all bread crumbs to me.

  • HayesOose

    “…ichi ji kan, ni sen yen dayone?”

    iie, sore wa ore ga kasegu dono kuraide wa arimasen.

    ” it’s yen mate, not yens.”

    Haw. Thanks for pointing that out. I have been making that mistake for years and now I won’t embarrass myself further.

    Nice catch, stupid.

  • Cam

    cheers buddy, considering you are never wrong…thought you might try to to dispute that one too…another pat on the back for you good sir