Regarding the Oct. 8 article “Gaijin Day: How an event in Hamamatsu about unity proved to be divisive“: I lived in Japan for more than 30 years and worked in a Japanese-owned company there as well as working in several universities. I finally left Japan because I found the “quiet” discrimination there was getting worse rather than improving.

In my company I had a contract that said I was a full-time employee and even rose to become the manager for one fourth of Japan. I worked the same hours as my Japanese counterparts, but never was given national health care or the national pension by this company.

When I finally resorted to a lawyer I was told that even though my contract said full time I was in fact just a part-time, or a “limited worker,” rather than an “unlimited worker.” In what other country can an employee have a contract that says full time, but in the end find out it’s just part time and that you rate no pension?

As the birthrate dropped and student numbers fell, the universities all announced that there would be fewer classes for part-time teachers, then a month later they announced that a large percentage of the classes that had been taught by foreign teachers would now be taught by Japanese teachers. No explanation or reason was given, and since we were all part-time instructors there was no legal option. The Japanese will always take care of their own first it seems.

Japan desperately needs foreign workers, but continues to treat non-Japanese as second-class citizens. The news is full of stories of abuse in the technical trainee program, but this treatment reaches all foreigners in Japan sooner or later.

I’m often asked about working in Japan and I always tell people not to do it, unless you just want to go sightseeing for a year.


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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