Two English teachers stand up for their rights and win — a valuable lesson for anyone working in Japan
Japan Times -- Apr 11
The closure of 51 Coco Juku eikaiwa (English conversation) schools in Japan last week, with more to come in June, illustrates just how unstable the English teaching market can be.

Companies that used to provide fairly well-paying jobs are now, in many cases, restructuring them into something that resembles a McJob — a brief stop in between a person’s schooling and career.

Given this change and the often temporary status of an eikaiwa instructor, when a problem with working conditions arises, many teachers will simply grin and bear it until they head back to their home countries or just jump to another company.

However, that wasn’t the case for Mulele Jarvis, 48, and Cindy Powers, 69. After receiving what they believed to be questionable contracts, the pair took their employers to court and walked away in triumph. It was a grueling 2½-year struggle but the lesson for all of us is clear: Know your rights as a worker.

“I’ve been living and working in Japan since I was 20, so I really had no experience with contracts and signed pretty much whatever I was given,” Jarvis says. “This recent process has really educated me, and I encourage everyone to look carefully at the contents of their own contracts.”

Before we get into the pair’s fight, it’s good to know some background. In 2013, the government amended the Labor Contracts Act (LCA) to include a provision that would allow a worker on serial fixed-term contracts for more than five years to request job permanency. That five-year period came due last year, but some companies responded by creating loopholes to get out of offering permanent positions, such as asking workers in their fourth year to take a term break and, subsequently, start their five-year period all over again.

Another way some companies tried to get around the five-year period was to categorize their workers as “independent contractors,” which would have the effect of putting them outside the scope of the LCA amendment.

News source: Japan Times
May 30
The number of foreigners staying in Japan under a new visa for workers with specified skills totaled 3,987 as of the end of March, less than a tenth of the maximum set by the government in the first year of its introduction, immigration authorities said Friday. (Kyodo)
May 28
Seventy percent of Japanese prefectural boards of education say schooling will be limited in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, despite the government's lifting of the state of emergency, a Nikkei survey has found. (Nikkei)
May 25
The threat of sexual harassment is an all-too-real concern for Japan's student job hunters, and it is sometimes university alumni who use promises of patronage to abuse their position of trust. (Japan Today)
May 24
The health ministry plans to raise subsidies for governments that bolster staff at child consultation centers to help them deal with the surge in child-support demand caused by the coronavirus, informed sources say. (Japan Times)
May 23
The government has set an additional criterion for foreign students hoping to receiving cash handouts of up to Y200,000 ($1,900) for students struggling financially amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, making only those in the top 30 percent of grades eligible. (Japan Times)
May 20
The Cabinet approved Tuesday a program to provide up to ¥200,000 ($1,900) in a cash handout to each of around 430,000 university and other students in the nation struggling financially to pay for tuition or living costs amid the spread of the new coronavirus. (Japan Times)
May 20
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted authorities worldwide to introduce entry restrictions on border traffic. But regulations in Japan have sparked a particularly strong reaction from its international community, as it is the only Group of Seven member denying entry to long-term and permanent residents and has set no clear criteria for their return. (Japan Times)
May 19
Adam Fulford is our guest today. He's been living in Japan for many years and has seen a lot, experienced a lot and will share his stories with us today. From NHK to projects in Tohoku, Japan's "Bubble Era" to the 21st century, get ready for some history! (ONLY in JAPAN)
May 19
Schools in many regions across the nation reopened Monday with staggered attendance, in preparation for a full-scale restart of classes, following the government’s lifting of the state of emergency in 39 of the nation’s 47 prefectures last Thursday. (Japan Times)
May 17
If you’ve lived and worked in Japan–especially as an English teacher in Japanese schools, then you might know that the high-tech image of Japan is still somewhat of an illusion. (soranews24.com)