Regarding Takamitsu Sawa’s Nov. 27 article, “Place university academics on an annual wage system“: Professor Sawa doesn’t seem to see the reality of the Japanese university system.

Salaries of Japanese university academics are not high when compared with the international salary structure for professors in developed countries. In the United States, for example, there are a few wealthy universities that do pay bonuses on top of the salaries to professors who publish more, but the basic salaries of American professors are much higher than that of Japanese professors.

Therefore, punishing professors in Japan for not producing enough would not create a stimulus. Instead, it would discourage Japanese academics with Ph.D.s earned at reputable foreign universities from returning to Japan.

At Japanese universities, there are no seniority-based promotions. Salary and promotions are based on the whims of the group that controls the faculty. Members of that group nominate each other for the all-powerful committees; the elected dean is only a figurehead. Recruitments are based on word of mouth and connections. Most new posts are not even advertised.

Most Japanese professors do not have a Ph.D., and as a result, they are not interested in research. Yet those who never got a Ph.D. often supervise Ph.D.-related research. Such research has variable standards. Facilities for research hardly exist. There are no research assistants, teaching assistants, programmers in the computer centers or even adequate administrative staffs. Professors are busy doing administrative work to arrange for examinations, admissions and compilations of results that administrative staffs would normally perform in non-Japanese universities.

In this atmosphere, it is absurd to demand much research output. Those who do research in such an inhospitable atmosphere must have academic friends in North American and European foreign universities so that they can use the research facilities there.

An annual salary system would be the last thing to stimulate professors at Japanese universities, and globalization of Japanese universities is not possible because of the language barrier.

Japan needs to develop its own resources to improve the quality of university research by removing the aforementioned defects.

dipak basu

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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