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Author Topic: Foreign professors suffering "academic apartheid" in Japan?  (Read 10796 times)
embitteredhistorian
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« on: March 14, 2010, 3:13:27 AM »

I came across this article from the Japan Times about foreign professors: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20081230zg.html .

I was wondering if the situation has changed since this was written. I have known some people (okay, two) who avoided Japan after being explicitly told by the university that, since they were foreigners, they would be on a different pay scale, even though they were tenure track.

I am also curious about the 6:6 or 7:7 course load for tenured professors (foreign and non-foreign) that the article implies is standard in Japan. This seems ridiculous to me--here in Korea and throughout most of the world anything above a 4:4 is unheard of. If I'm not mistaken, why does Japan have a much higher course load?
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taikibansei
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2010, 9:20:41 PM »

I am also curious about the 6:6 or 7:7 course load for tenured professors (foreign and non-foreign) that the article implies is standard in Japan.

As each class only meets once per week for 90 minutes, a typical 6-class load translates to (assuming my math is correct!) just nine hours total in the classroom. Moreover, that 6-class load will normally involve just 3-4 preps, with permanent (tenured) faculty pretty much guaranteed the best classes. I.e., your teaching hours will be the least of your problems. (On the other hand, the meetings can be a killer--I spent over 6 hours in a single faculty meeting on numerous occasions.)

Regarding academic apartheid, I'd argue that things have gotten both better and worse. If you are a foreigner with a PhD, multiple publications and (most importantly) Japanese language ability, there seem to be far more permanent/tenured positions available than, say, back in the late 90s. Keep in mind that many of the better posts for foreigners  (especially in the humanities) are advertised only in Japanese.

However, many Japanese universities still hire foreigners only to contract positions, with lower salaries, higher teaching loads, no research funding, etc. Often, these contracts are nonrenewable, or renewable only once or twice. Worse, and again especially in the humanities, you will now often see ads demanding PhDs (or MAs with numerous publications) and extensive teaching experience and Japanese language ability from applicants for even these inferior positions. I find it sad that somebody with these qualifications would take a position at half the salary (and twice the workload) of their Japanese colleagues, but in this economy, even an inferior job is probably better than none.

Note, though, that an increasing number of Japanese universities have begun hiring Japanese citizens to these inferior positions as well. Economic and especially demographic issues (e.g., the rapid decline in student numbers) are the main culprits.

My two yen, at any rate.
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embitteredhistorian
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2010, 4:37:54 AM »

Thanks for such an informative, calm, and specific response!
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kukom
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2010, 10:14:14 AM »

Embitteredhistorian wrote: "I came across this article from the Japan Times about foreign professors:" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20081230zg.html

Incredible!

It is already common knowledge that Korean car manufacturers copy Japanese cars i.e. the Hyundai Starex is modeled on a Mitsubishi minivan and the Daewoo Damas micro-van on the Japanese Suzuki Every an the list goes on...

However, I did not expect to see that the treatment of foreign faculty at Korean universities is based 100% on the Japanese model. That is, if this article is truly about Japanese Universities and the treatment of foreign faculty within, then it could just as easily be stated that it's an article about the treatment of foreign faculty by Korean universities in South Korea, as every single detail of the article could be applied to South Korea without any changes made.
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embitteredhistorian
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2010, 9:03:48 PM »

Embitteredhistorian wrote: "I came across this article from the Japan Times about foreign professors:" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20081230zg.html

Incredible!

It is already common knowledge that Korean car manufacturers copy Japanese cars i.e. the Hyundai Starex is modeled on a Mitsubishi minivan and the Daewoo Damas micro-van on the Japanese Suzuki Every an the list goes on...

However, I did not expect to see that the treatment of foreign faculty at Korean universities is based 100% on the Japanese model. That is, if this article is truly about Japanese Universities and the treatment of foreign faculty within, then it could just as easily be stated that it's an article about the treatment of foreign faculty by Korean universities in South Korea, as every single detail of the article could be applied to South Korea without any changes made.

Well, there are a lot of differences:

1. Foreigners can have permanent non-tt positions in Korea (I'm against them and think foreigners should refuse them on principal, but that's another issue)
2. The Korean Ministry of Education has never "warned" national universities about paying foreigners too much.
3. Being in Korea "too long" will not harm your chances of getting an untenured university teaching position.
4. Different standards for foreigners and natives are illegal in Korea according to the Labor Law, which explicitly states that discrimination on the basis of nationality is illegal.

That last bit really shocks and disappoints me about Japan. There is plenty of workplace discrimination in Korea, especially against SE Asians and people from the Indian subcontinent, but it is technically illegal.

In all honesty, I would be interested in living in Japan (Tokyo is an amazing city, and the Japanese are much more polite than the Koreans), but I have no desire to move to a country where the courts condone discrimination against me.

What confuses me is why there are very vocal and angry expats in Korea (kukom is a typical specimen), but expats in Japan seem much less subdued. Why is that?
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kukom
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2010, 11:40:23 PM »

embitteredhistorian wrote: "Well, there are a lot of differences:"

Well, having lived in Korea for 10 years now.. I don't see the differences you pointed out....

I respectfully disagree.
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lifetooshort
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2010, 9:29:26 AM »

Hard to generalize. Depends on which faculty you are in, whether you are male or female, whether you speak fluent Japanese, other factors. Very, very difficult to get grants for research, whether you are tenured faculty or a researcher. Not much collegiality in some places. Cold, unfriendly in some.

Suggest you read Ivan Hall's book CARTELS OF THE MIND. Not sure how much has changed overall, but all is relative. If you need a job, then you will put up with a lot of stuff. If you don't need a job or are in a similarly bad situation, not a good idea to go from the frying pan into the fire.

Hard for a non-Japanese to move up into administration - only know two men - one a university president (no longer president), the other the current Dean of SILS at Waseda, who is a great person who will leave the post at the end of September.

One should be very careful about temporary/renewable contracts in Japan these days, since the academic institutions are beset by baby bust and are looking for foreign students to fill empty seats.

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tarokun
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« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2010, 3:57:52 AM »

Readers interested in this thread might want to check out the following links:

1. Blacklist of Japanese universities
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html

2. 2005 Kansai Private University Salary Scales
http://palesig.blogspot.com/2006/02/2005-kansai-private-university-salary.html

3. A foreigner-friendly field of dreams?
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100330zg.html

« Last Edit: April 08, 2010, 3:59:38 AM by tarokun » Logged
crates
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If you think education is expensive, try ignorance


WWW
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2011, 12:26:35 PM »

Readers interested in this thread might want to check out the following links:

1. Blacklist of Japanese universities

Thanks a lot. I was thinking about applying to Hokkaido University since I'm long overdue for some travel and I am generally enamored with Japanese culture. I guess I'll have to rethink the process.

Any chance you have a list of universities that are highly recommended?

I know this is an old list but I'm sure it still applies. I kind of figured that a National University wouldn't have these kinds of issues.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 12:27:18 PM by crates » Logged

crkens
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2011, 2:07:21 PM »

I've been in both places, and from a distance, my opinion, simply put, is that working in Korea is like playing handball against a curb.  Yes, they are that low.  Things aren't perfect in Japan, but you exist on a significantly higher plane, separate planet though!
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taikibansei
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« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2011, 6:58:54 AM »

Thanks a lot. I was thinking about applying to Hokkaido University since I'm long overdue for some travel and I am generally enamored with Japanese culture. I guess I'll have to rethink the process.

Any chance you have a list of universities that are highly recommended?

I know this is an old list but I'm sure it still applies. I kind of figured that a National University wouldn't have these kinds of issues.

In general, just like in the States, you'll want to apply to tenured/tenure-track positions only--particularly if you have a PhD with multiple publications. In other words, I'd be more worried about the working conditions of the position offered than whether the university itself was blacklisted. (I know of several non Japanese working in tenured positions at some of the "blacklisted" universities. They have no complaints...while those on short-term or part-time contracts are far less happy....) Feel free to pm me about a particular school or any specific job ad details.
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