Wednesday, February 28, 2007

U.N. Rep responds to Japan's assertion of homogenuity

A few days ago Japan's Education Minister, Bunmei Ibuki (who is in need of education himself), made the bizarrely inaccurate and false claim that Japan is a homogeneous society.

The U.N. special rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia responded:

"There is no such thing as pure blooded or a pure race. Where do the Ainu fit in to Japanese society? Or the Chinese and Koreans?"

"I am absolutely shocked at his remark. Here is the education minister, the person who in charge of educating Japan's children about their history, saying something that is so outdated."

I am shocked that he is shocked. I would assume he would have a lot to respond to about Japan. I guess since he is in Japan now, he was able to see and hear about Ibuki's comment directly.

One would not likely see many European politicians get a free pass for bigoted and racist comments the way Japan's leaders do. Perhaps nobody expects any better of them.

Have not as of yet heard much domestic criticism of Ibuki's remarks. That may change since a U.N. representative has commented on them. Or it may just be ignored by the Japanese language press and of course Japan's elite.

Abe agrees with Ibuki as this is in keeping with his vision of a "beautiful country." I assume that means a Japan with no non-pure Japanese defiling it.

Abe's Beautiful country to kids: Screw you too!

Reversal: Nine kids with Japanese dads not citizens from the Japan Times.

Abe's "Beautiful country." Oh well, does the fact that Japan will not recognize many children of Japanese men and non-Japanese women as citizens of Japan actually surprise anyone?

"Presiding Judge Hidetoshi Somiya said the law is justified and does not interfere with the children's constitutional right to equality...."

"...The nine plaintiffs, between the ages of 7 and 13 and all born in Japan, have Philippine citizenship and live in Tokyo and Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa and Aichi prefectures with permanent residence status..."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Eikaiwa pay is great huh?

Read all the books written by snake oil salesmen on how to make a million yen? Well, the basic salary has been dropping for years. Working hours are also going up. The number of people who have read such idiotic books have been coming to Japan until the number of eikaiwa teachers has increased by fourfold from 1997-2002. And the pay:

According to a labour union spokesperson familiar with the eikaiwa business, teachers in the 1970's received monthly salaries of 300,000 yen for 20 hours of work, which they often supplemented with outside teaching jobs, giving them a total income of as much as 600,000 yen per month, double that of the average salaryman. (See the Sunday 19 June 2005 article on that page).

(I am a bit skeptical of that 600,000 yen per month. It may be true, but I know basic eikaiwa salary in the mid 80s was the still standard 250,000 per month. At that time it was the legal minimum someone on the humanities visa had to earn. Even during the bubble years when I "taught" part-time at a YMCA while working full time at a non-teaching job in a Japanese company, the standard salary for part-time was 3,000 per hour. That has dropped. There were always rumors of some guy making 500,000 per month doing next to nothing, but I only heard about these mysterious folks. Never met one, and neither did anyone else whom I believed. Perhaps there were a few...)

Some of the folks who come here are not such sharp cookies and are willing work for lower and lower pay---at least at first until they see what is happening. Others have no choice as they have bills and a family and cannot easily or quickly leave eikaiwa school chains. Still others are just your backpacking flower-child type who is above the desire for, or need of money. (Mommy and daddy will pay if need be. They always have). A few are just nincompoops.

Berlitz went through this increased working hours/salary cut just before I left (the best thing I have ever done.) I guess they have finally started paying for the full cost of teacher's transportation costs like they were supposed to in the contract. Berlitz never understood that a contract worked both ways---they just figured the teacher had to abide by it and Berlitz might if it did not inconvenience them.

When I look at salaries in the newspaper, many are now at around the 220,000 yen mark for full time per month. Why would anyone work for that?

Generally, an experienced teacher with qualifications---a CELTA is usually more than enough and anything more is unnecessary---who preferably has business experience (you mainly need to understand what a business is and how to conduct yourself in such an environment. You rarely need to teach specific business skills) can get a job as a "corporate trainer" for much better pay. You still won't get rich and you have to work and especially travel a lot. Possibly spend a lot of time between classes at coffee shops too, if you are a contract teachers. But at least they pay you for full transportation! And your per hour salary should be a quite a bit higher. You will have to do more work and prepare for classes, correct homework, and occasionally create materials, etc. In other words, you will have to teach, or come as close to it as you can in this environment. (HINT: beware of working for less than 4,000 per hour unless you have a special reason. You ought to ask why the pay is only 3,500 yen. It is below market average. If you have little experience and no certifications perhaps it could be acceptable.))

You still have to be careful. I took a few classes on the side recently for a company which supposedly focuses on corporate clients. I found out that they are a bunch of first-class incompetents though. The pay was low---3,500 per hour, but it was a morning class close to me so I decided to take it. I was told there would be 3 "main" students and other folks would drop in out of the blue occasionally for a class. This should have been a warning...well, it was. Then I was told, "Oh we don't have a book or anything yet." BIG WARNING number 2. "Oh, we neglected to mention that there is a bus ride on top of the train ride to get there." I should have walked out the door then, but I had already agreed to take it, and I had taken one from them before that turned out OK after a similar rocky start.

This one hasn't. I walked in the class the first day and had NINE students, not three. Their level varied from very nearly a true beginner to pre-intermediate. Luckily, I have plenty of things planned for a first class so I managed to stumble through it. I e-mailed and suggested the books I would need. OK, no problem. They also divided the class into two groups. I still don't know who will show up, or who the 3 "main" students are.

After 2 weeks no books, but the manager, a British guy--told me he was leaving (WARNING).
He then e-mailed me and told me to plan classes using my "store" of materials. WTF?!! At 3,500 yen I am supposed to create or supply materials?

Christmas break came and a new manager started after the New Year. He had no idea of what happened so I had to request books again. Twice. Finally, after calling him and giving him hell over it, the books were sent. (It was not his fault, he was new and it slipped his mind. The rest of the staff appears to be clueless, so I am sure they are no help.)

Anyway, the class got off to a poor start and has never recovered. 4-6 weeks went by before we had any consistent material other than the stuff I made, or occasionally copied (paid for by me.)

Last weekend, I got a letter from them informing me and all the other suckers working for them that they were going to stop paying transportation costs over 800 yen round trip. Oh, I pay them to work for them? Wow. Am I back at Berlitz? No, it ain't that bad, or I would give 2 weeks notice and good-bye. But I have turned down several other offers from them, and will do no more work for them after the class ends in March. The students don't deserve to be screwed more than they have. However, if my main company offered me a morning lesson at the time period, I'd probably take it now and give my 2 weeks notice.

The company's name? I can't really say. They never cheated nor intentionally deceived and lied to me like Berlitz did as far as I know, so I will just say again that there are only maybe 4 companies/schools that I would consider working for in Tokyo in the private sector. None are in eikaiwa, all are in corporate training. Shall I list them? OK. Pheonix Associates, JAL Academy, perhaps Forum (second-hand info) and Simul Academy. There may be others, but I would be very careful of any company which has 9 letters in its namebegins with I and ends with g.

I have seen and heard enough of many others and interviewed at some. I guess I should write up what one should watch for during interviews to learn if you are dealing with up-and-up people, or a bunch of idiots, crooks, or liars. Obviously, I am still learning though.

No, of course it's not racist! Japan has no racism!

"Hey nigger!! Don't touch that Japanese woman's ass!!"

[Shigeki ] Saka (editor of Kyogaku no Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu ---Shocking Foreigner Crime: the Underground File) said that while he knew the term "nigger" is racist, he reckoned it would have a different nuance written in Japanese. "We used it as street slang, writing it in katakana. But if we had known that we would get such a huge reaction from foreigners, we might have refrained from using it," he figured. (From the 26 Feb 2007 Japan Times.)

This is Japan and there is no racism in Japan. I wrote more about this magazine here.
To their credit, the convenience store Family Mart pulled it off their shelves after they determined it to be discriminatory.

Saka claims that he (being a pure Japanese which makes him by nature incapable of being the racist that he obviously is) means no discrimination against non-Japanese. He also said it is not extreme in tone---read the first sentence again and see if that sounds extreme to you.

The secretary general of the UN's International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Hideki Morihara, says the magazine is only part of the problem and puts much of the blame on the Japanese government---which is where it belongs. Of course, the Japanese media, being nothing but mouthpieces for the Japanese government in most cases, is to blame too.

How much of this report will be printed in Japanese newspapers? Would it be the same, or would it put a different slant on the story? If not, it would be a bit of a surprise.

The Japan Times is not that good of a newspaper, but it is more independent than many since it is only printed in English, and is not in the kisha--press clubs---that the government uses to pressure and control the media.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Screw You World, the Truth from Japan about WW2

From: Telling the Truth at Yasukuni

The Honorable Hisahiko Okazaki-sama wrote in the 23 February 2007 Japan Times about his involvement in redoing some of the wonderfully historically accurate work at the Yasukuni shrine, home of numerous Class A war criminals who are not really considered criminals in Japan.

My primary objective in modifying the exhibits is to protect the intellectual integrity (???!!!) of Yasukuni Shrine...I did not think it would be proper to take into consideration the opinions of certain other countries. (There are no facts, just opinions. I agree. The USA did not firebomb Tokyo or use atomic weapons against Japan. Never happened. It is just lies, propaganda, and biased opinions.)

...It is a historical fact that Roosevelt induced Japan to carry out a first strike...(poor Japan. Had no choice. Could not resist. Could not cease killing Chinese. Victim again.)

...Northern China operations: The threshold of the Japan-China war was the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937. At the same time the Japanese government was trying to resolve this incident peacefully, the Guanganmen Incident and the Second Shanghai Incident took place... It is a historical fact that all three incidents were the result of Chinese provocation. (Emphasis mine) I will not yield on this point...

...It was true that since the Xian Incident in the beginning of 1937, Kuomintang-Communist collaboration against Japan gained momentum and resulted in a number of incidents initiated by the Chinese (emphasis mine) around the time the war started...(those pesky Chinese, victimizing the poor, misunderstood, peace-loving Japanese Imperial Army in China)

Regarding the so-called Nanjing Massacre, I paid serious attention to original text that depicted only events that were supported by historical facts. It would impair the intellectual integrity of Yasukuni Shrine if we added more modifications out of consideration to other countries' responses, because doing so might simply stem from secondhand evidence and propaganda-like assertions. (Note the use of "so-called." Nanjing did not happen! A myth just like the "so-called" Holocost by Japan's WW2 allies, the Nazis! Japan is neutral. No propaganda or manipulated evidence here!)

Note that Okazaki had no problem going beyond original material if he could cite it for support, such as Kissinger's book which sort made a claim somewhat in the direction that Okazaki could use to cite as support.

So, is Japan really sorry for anything it did in WW2, or is it a victim? One gets more of a sense of victimhood for some reason. Can't understand why nobody believe Japan's sincerity when it says it regrets some bad things which it may have done in WW2 but didn't really do or was forced to do by evil outsiders and foreigners.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I'm so NOT sorry

I was on the train this afternoon when it happened. Something I worried about. I wondered just what my reaction would be. Would I say something like "You
f**king prick," or would I be Japanese-like and just pretend everything was fine?

Now you have to remember that in Japan we sneeze and cough all over everyone and everything. Well, maybe not always, and MAYBE not everyone does it everywhere, but one gets the feeling after seeing it all the time that it is not uncommon. Folks often wear masks when they have a cold, flu, or an allergy so that they need not use a handkerchief or tissue. That would be "troublesome." So we cough and sneeze and it blows the mask away and snot and spittle and germs fly out the side. It's OK though, for this is Japan and germs are different here than those in dirty foreign countries. Japan's germ are, like Japan, pure. Of course there are other ways to avoid handkerchief use. Let's say you are in a book store browsing magazines. You feel a sneeze coming. In Japan, we NEVER stifle a sneeze for it is dangerous. (I am not joking here). No problem---just put your face into the book you are looking at and sneeze there. (I have seen that many times. So I never buy a magazine from the front. I always grab one from the rear. Don't like paying for snot, there is enough given out freely here.)

Anyway, I was sitting on the train from Futakotamagawa to Jiyugaoka (Oimachi line) when a fine young gentleman to my left looked my way and suddenly lost control of his mouth and coughed directly in my face from less than 12 inches away. He immediately looked away, coughed once more into his hand and then pretended nothing happened. Amazingly, he did not apologize! Forgot he had no mask? Imagine that, no apology from a citizen of the country with the most polite people in the universe who are always apologizing, did not do so!!!! I was so shocked and confused. I was tempted to say something less than polite (because I am a rude, dangerous, inconsiderate baka gaijin) but I didn't because I knew if I did there would be no benefit to it. In fact, others around me may have thought that I was being the typical, rude, troublemaking foreigner for saying anything. The most I MIGHT get is a pretend apology to avoid trouble. And besides, why should a foreigner care since he/she is already full of germs and diseases.

It got me to thinking, just how often do people apologize to me here? One would assume that since the Japanese are the politest folks on earth, and since they apologize so much more often than anyone else that I would have noticed it in reality. I have people who come late to a meeting and apologize. Then come late again. And again. We once lived next door to a woman who had her noisy barking dog out walking it every morning at about 730. It barked at everyone who walked near her. She apologized every time, every morning. Dog still barked every time, every morning. I have people who apologize for making a mistake when speaking English in a class. Why? Of course, if money is involved (I am a customer) apologizes are offered for every little thing. Very sincerely, of course.

I rarely get apologies when people run into me on the sidewalk, in a store---crowded or not---in a train at any time, or even when I am hit by an idiot on a bike, or when some cuts directly in front of me and everyone else and forces us off the sidewalk...I can only remember a few times at the most when someone has as much as muttered a "sumimasen." And, yes, it is such a rare occurrence here that I should remember it. Generally folks slam into me and then pretend that they aren't there. Or I am not there. Whatever, there ain't no sorry involved. Although in the grocery store, I have noticed that some women will intentionally run into someone lightly with their buggy, then say gomen nasai or sumimasen. I don't know, but it seems that rude, ill-mannered foreigners tend to say "excuse me" when they want to get by you before hitting you.

It is really confusing because I can't understand how folks can be so polite and apologize so much without being polite or apologizing much. Perhaps they are generally polite by Japanese standards. If so, many of those standards would not pass for polite at all elsewhere. Could it be that the Japanese are no more polite than anyone else? Now think about it. Even if you are an ill-mannered, self-centered non-Japanese, wouldn't you be as embarrassed as hell and apologize profusely if you coughed directly in someone's face? Wouldn't you be truly sorry? And you aren't even a native of the country with the world's most polite people. How could this be?

I am sure that it's because I am a clueless foreigner and can't understand Japan. You see, rude is different in Japan. It is really polite. (I actually read something like that on a website once. It had something about the Japanese language being so polite that even being rude was polite. Wish I could find it again.)

I don't know. Japan is so misunderstood. Why the Chinese, and the Koreans, and now the even the U.S. Congress (!!!) don't believe Japan's very sincere and heartfelt "apologies" for doing the bad things it really didn't do in WW2.

Poor Japan, victim again. Maybe I should go apologize to the f**king prick who coughed in my face.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Negative images of non-Japanese

Last week, The Japan Times ran a Bloomberg interview with Shintaro Ishihara in which the proudly provocative Tokyo governor followed up his contention that foreigners were behind the city's rising crime rate. He challenged his interviewers to go to Roppongi and see for themselves. "Africans -- and I don't mean African-Americans -- who don't speak English are there doing who knows what," he said.

From the Japan Times here.

Part of a short, quick article with little detail about what many think of Africans, and one Japanese reporter's attempt to go a little deeper than Isihara and the Japanese "police" and media's shallow, stereotypical, and simplistic view.

(In the 80s, Ishihara reportedly stated that the reason many young Japanese women visited Guam was so that they could find African American men with huge penises so that the women could have sex with them. I guess Blinky was offended since he was not involved for some reason.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sounds just like Japan, but

it's the US. Proof that bigoted idiots aren't restricted to one country. Should anyone actually need proof. See the NYT article about Toyota in NASCAR and the Daytona 500. Just exactly what one can hear in Japan from certain idiots---note that I did not mention Shintaro Ishihara---whenever a non-Japanese company, sportsperson, or other non-Japanese threatens to compete or otherwise intrude upon things considered Japanese. Sometimes I have to be reminded how much a similar attitude exists among some in the US, in Korea, and probably everywhere to some extent.

The difference in the US is that the government and media does not lead nor push this attiude upon the public to any extent like that in Japan. And there, minorities have some recourse.

Note that I still did not mention Ishihara, Masahiko Fujiwara, nor anyone from Abe's nationalist cabinet.
Let's see, someone has been trying to gain access to this blog by trying to get to give up my password. I know the IP addresses from the time frame, but I wonder if bloggercom will screw up and do it?

Friday, February 16, 2007

"Tradition is the backbone

of the spineless." I don't know who said that, but I saw it written somewhere recently. Why does that make me think of...

Japan Taking the Lead

I have to admit, this is a cheapshot and I am being a bit of a hypocrite about this. I think Japan and other countries can do some whaling within limits without harming the whale population. But what gets me about Japan is when a year or so ago, they could not get all they wanted from the International Whaling Commission so they refused to agree to allow subsistence harvest of a small number of whales by native Inuits in protest. Reminded me of a spoiled 2-year old throwing a temper tantrum. They tried to screw people in the extreme north who do depend on whale hunting, not people who do it as a luxury like the Japanese. The Japanese either throw away most of the whale meat, or process it into pet food. There is no similarity between Japan's whaling and that of the Inuits. But anyway:

Before WW2, Japan could not get its way in the predecessor to the UN, the League of Nations. So Japan quit the League thereby destroying it. (Seems the League was not so understanding about Japan's wonderful intentions for China etc.)

Now Japan, which is insisting on whaling for "scientific" purposes and then being unable to sell the majority of the meat, processing it into pet food, is upset with the IWC since Japan cannot get its way and is threatening to quit. Maybe they should. I think Japan has a point that some whaling (minke) is sustainable and does not pose a threat, the evidence is on their side. It does seem that many supporters of IWC oppose any whaling at all for any purpose and seems to be in line with some of the more extremist so-called environmentalist groups.

However, one still has to wonder why whaling, which benefits so very few in Japan except for the right-wing nutjobs who seem to simply want to insist on it as part of Japan's "unique" culture that the world should accept and embrace simply because it is a traditional Japanese practice.

Tradition excuses everything in Japan. Japanese culture explains everything. It seems there is never an economic or political reason for anything. What other country gets away with this type on nonsense so much and is able to get foreigners to explain away and apologize for them?

(One of Japan's whaling ships, Nisshin Maru, caught fire in the Antarctic yesterday threatening the environment there with oil leaks and other damage, according to Greenpeace---whom one would expect to make that claim. Japan denies it.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Interestingly---or maybe not---after posting about the magazine (New Magazine Sells Fear of Foreigners) which promotes the "foreigners are all dangerous criminal" idea, I was watching channel 6 news tonight. They had a segment on the growing popularity of Japan's ski resort with foreigners---mostly from Australia as you would guess---and at the end of the story, they naturally had to add something that showed just how much trouble those damned foreigners were. They showed several men at night outside on the street, said to be foreigners (they were far away and faces were blurred) drunk and in a snowball fight. They were in the middle of the road and a Japanese guy in a car almost hit them. He got out and gave them hell---yes, it is shocking that he would confront dangerous foreign thugs singlehandedly, but he did.

It never fails. Anything to do with foreigners in Japan has to somehow end up with how much trouble they are, how dangerous they could be, and how they could threaten the innocent pure Japanese of WW2 fame. Do all Japanese fall for this bigoted shit? No. But you can bet that given this manure from childhood, that many do.

To yield the point to Japan-apologists and explainers, yes, there are racists in my country too. Of course, this excuses the Japanese. Oh, yes I am white, so naturally I can't say anything since many whites (and nearly every group) are racist. So we can't really say that anything done in Japan that appears racist, bigoted or sexist is.
Someone in the Japanese government finally suggested that the US invasion of Iraq was perhaps less than brilliant. This has apparently angered the Bush administration. When Dick Cheney comes this month, he will not be meeting with Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma because Kyuma criticized the US actions in Iraq. He also criticized American plans for the relocation of an air station in Okinawa.

Everyone else on earth has been saying similar things about the US and Iraq for quite a while. Since Bush suffered the big loss in the election last year, even Japan has been finding a little courage to criticize. Among the Japanese public, it has always been very hard to find anyone who supported the US invasion of Iraq or Japan's support of it. Americans have been misled if they believe that the average Japanese supported that war. It was only the government.

Not that there is bigotry or racism in Japan, but

Compared to many other countries, discrimination against foreigners in Japan is quite benign. No beatings and killings in this country. There are some businesses that won't accept foreigners, but that more often than not has to do with the fear of not being able to give adequate service than a dislike of foreigners. Unfortunately, this month a very nasty magazine, flagrantly aimed at creating fear of foreigners, was put on sale. Human rights activist Debito Arudou reports on "Foreign Crime Underground Files":

Well, it is nothing new for anyone who lives here and is somewhat aware of what goes on, but you can find the rest of the story New Magazine Sells Fear of Foreigners on is a great site for news about Japan. It is not sugarcoated fantasyland crap either. There is also an interesting article concerning the reported increase in crimes in Japan here.

By the way, naturally there has been beatings and killings of non-Japanese in Japan. You won't read a lot about them in the Japanese press though, except perhaps buried on page 8 if printed at all. If it becomes an international incident (the former British Airlines stewardess who was murdered several years ago and whose murder the police did not seriously try to solve until Tony Blair leaned on Koizumi) then there will be coverage. Any time a Japanese is injured by a non-Japanese, it is MAJOR news.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"What is Japan doing," said an exasperated Chris Carter, New Zealand's conservation minister, during the humpback debate in St. Kitts. "It seems determined to anger the world."

Last year, ...the inventory of unsold whalemeat reached a record 6,000 tons after the Japanese whaling fleets returned from Antarctica, according to researcher Junko Sakurai. From the Japan Times.

Regardless of one's opinion on the whale hunting issue, Japan's behavior is a bit strange. Or it could be business as usual: We are primarily victims. The world is wrong and we are right. (That's why the USA is Japan's only ally. Both countries are always right and know everything . Both are also becoming more isolated from the rest of the world. The difference is that Japan was arguably never really a part of the international community.)

Also: Much as Japan's politicians champion logic and science in the service of their cause, however, it is clear that nationalism is one of the pillars that props up the campaign. Many of the most active prowhalers are on the right of the political spectrum, and the vast majority of the PWL has no electoral or commercial ties to whaling. In fact, only around 10 percent come from districts with a direct connection to the whaling industry. HERE

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tokyo government

under the rightist nutter, Ishihara, is again being sued by teachers who were punished for refusing Ishihara's directive to stand and sing during the playing of the Japanese national anthem. Ishihara's gov't has lost a suit already on this so may lose this one. But as noted in the article, Ishihara and his fellow thugs in the Tokyo government see no need to follow the law. He is losing popularity now though because he and his kin have been caught with their fingers in the taxpayer's cookie jar. (And yea, that's foreign residents' cookie jar too.)

The U.S. House is also close to passing a resolution calling on Japan to admit and apologize, clearly and explicitly for their enslavement of the so-called "comfort women" in WW2. Japan had sent people to lobby against this. Of course they have their permanent lobbyists in Washington to help. Oh, there will be howls and whines of protests over this. The defense will be a bunch of red herrings or other illogical non-sense such as "America enslaved people too," (meaning it's OK because everyone does it) or "It's all Chinese, Korean, and American lies and racism." Hell will freeze into a solid block of ice before the current government does any such thing. Doesn't match with Abe's vision of "A beautiful (nationalist) country." This article is HERE

Friday, February 09, 2007

5 months of March

Somehow, it seems like spring. Well, actually, there is no real winter in Tokyo, so for me it seems like March from November until April. Strange for a country in which a large percentage of the population, including the university "educated" believe that Japan is the ONLY country in the world with four distinct seasons.

This "winter" has been warmer than most, with no snow at all in Tokyo. Many say that it is due to global warming, but every time there is a slightly warm day it is blamed on global warming. Whatever it is, it isn't a clearly distinct season.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Amazon Japan ( Marketplace

Ever used that to order something from I have in the past a few times from sellers located in Japan. Last week I ordered a book from a place in Britain. I didn't check to see which country it was in before ordering--my mistake. Didn't know Amazon listed placed on the moon or elsewhere. Well, the 1-2 days to dispatch has now gone to 8 days. Gonna be gone for a week before it arrives--if it ever does. To cancel an order, I have to go to Amazon and jump through hoops to reach the seller in Britain. Too late to cancel now if it has been shipped. Of course I cannot tell if it has. If it never arrives, and worse comes to worse, Amazon will refund my money. But it will be a process from hell.

Lesson learned. Never, ever order from Amazon Marketplace.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Could this McDonald's be the dirtiest on earth? Well, I couldn't go that far with it, but it could be in the running for the title. Go to the second floor, and if you can breathe with all the second-hand smoke, look at the floors and tabletops and judge for yourself. You can check both the smoking and non-smoking sections with no problem, for as is usual in Japanese McDonalds there is no separation between the sections. Smoking is on one side of the room, non-smoking the other. (So what is the point?)

The nearby Wendy's may be in a contest with this McD's for the unclean championship, though one would not be shocked at a less than pristine Wendy's. Amazingly, the usually dirty KFC (I cannot ever remember an especially clean one) is extremely clean in this town.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Average wage falls .6%

Again. Consumer spending has also fallen. However, Abe, the head of Keiranden, and the LDP want to eliminate overtime pay for most, raise the consumption tax, and the BOJ want to perhaps raise interest rates. Income taxes have already been increased and another round of increases takes effect in May.The Japanese government was notorious for killing recovers in the late 90s and will likely do it again.

It's funny how some people who come to Japan to teach English become so estatic over the ¥250,000 (about $2000) per month salary at places like NOVA. This salary has not changed since at least the 1980s. It went up a little during the bubble years and even during the late 90s-early 2001 or so was increasing somewhat. At least the salary advertised in the paper was, one never knows if employees actually received that much or what it required to get it. Now it seems to be dropping again. Berlitz restructured theirs yet again before I left, increasing the hours one had to work (as I recall. I forget the exact details. Ask Berlitz, I am sure they will be honest about it. ahahaha) to get the 250,000 yen. The part-time contract dropped from 170,000 per month to 150,000. A big pay cut. Some places hire people at 220,000 per month. Others hire part-time employees at 2,500 or less per hour--the old standard used to be 3,000. I even see some which call themselves business English schools (beware, many are just eikaiwa and worse) looking for instructors for 3-3500 per hour when the base pay for this used to be 4000. Do you think the school lowers the price it charges students? Has Berlitz?

But I occasionally read some people who flop into Japan on a world wide backpack/dope smoke tour who think they are OVERPAID. They know what they are worth, but imagine trying to raise a family in New York City on $2000 per month. Can be done, but nobody but a fool would say it is a lot of money.

Most places are also very cheap on pay increases. Berlitz was always delaying or manipulating pay raises. Even when they would decide to pay the promised increase, if you left the company before a certain date, you would not get the raise that you earned for the previous years work. I doubt that they are alone. Generally the raise was something like 10-20 yen (8-16 cents) per hour, so small as to be nearly insignificant.

The max in this field is about 4-4.5 million yen per year. And to get that means one has to bust his/her ass and is very likely working as a corporate trainer or at a very good (and expensive) school. You ain't gonna get rich doing it. Stay for a few years and your salary will fall behind the average for a college educated worker in Japan. And you will certainly be behind someone in the same field in a major city in the US. (Well, maybe excepting the eikaiwa stuff. That doesn't pay well anywhere.)