Job-Juggling in Japan: A Risky Stunt with No Safety Net

Mid-April 2009. Tokyo.

Teaching English part-time at Berlitz Japan. Teaching English writing part-time at NHK Bilingual Center. Translating freelance for NHK. Translating part-time at the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Executive president of Berlitz General Union Tokyo (Begunto). Working part-time as a union organizer at the National Union of General Workers. Covering for a hospitalized full-time organizer at the same union. Working as an intern at Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuren) in the hope of getting hired there.

The above is a list of jobs, both paid and unpaid, that my activist friend Catherine Campbell worked simultaneously back in mid-April 2009. How could she possibly have held down so many jobs without collapsing under the pressure?

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Shakai hoken shake-up will open up pensions for some but close door on benefits for others

June 6, 1980, was a Friday. The Social Insurance Agency quietly issued an untitled internal memo called a naikan regarding the eligibility of part-timers in Japan’s shakai hoken health and pension program. Who could have known what chaos, confusion and frustration that single-page document would cause in the coming decades? Let’s get our hands dirty and dig through the details.

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For Japan’s English teachers, rays of hope amid the race to the bottom

The major economic engines of Japan Inc. — car manufacturers, appliance giants and the like — have often been caught price-fixing: colluding to keep an even market share, squeeze competitors out and maintain “harmony.” Similarly, the commercial English-teaching business could be accused of wage-fixing: Rather than competing for talent, they have followed one another’s lead, driving down salaries to hamper career development, limit job mobility and keep foreign teachers firmly in their place.

We’ve all heard the tale of the scorpion and the frog. In a rising flood, the scorpion asks the frog for a piggy-back ride across the river. The frog refuses, complaining that the scorpion will sting it to death midway. The scorpion assures the frog it would do no such thing because they would both drown. The frog accepts the logic, lets the scorpion on its back and begins to swim.

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Osaka’s General Union lands major court victory on Shakai Hoken

GU court victory against gov’t over insurance to have major impact

On 20 March at 13:25, the Tokyo District Court ruled on the case of a General Union member who sued the Japanese government in an important test case regarding eligibility for enrollment in the Employees Health and Pension Insurance (shakai hoken).
Read more at the GU website here.

800,000 firms likely dodged pension scheme

The Yomiuri Shimbun

About 800,000 small and midsize companies are strongly suspected of evading their legal obligation to join the public pension scheme for company employees, according to the results of a joint investigation by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the National Tax Agency.

The ministry identified the companies that have likely not joined the pension scheme by examining data provided by the tax agency.

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‘Maternity harassment’ verdict benefits women, men — and our humanity

Last Thursday’s Supreme Court verdict in the “maternity harassment” case brought by a physical therapist in Hiroshima was the first of its kind, overturning decades of business-friendly jurisprudence along with rulings from the district and high courts.

As I mentioned in last year’s September Labor Pains (“Mata-hara: turning the clock back on women’s rights”), the word mata-hara is short for maternity harassment, just as seku-hara and pawa-hara refer to sexual harassment and power harassment, respectively. Maternity harassment means workplace discrimination against pregnant or childbearing women, including dismissal, contract nonrenewal and wage cuts.

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Tozen Members join in a silent protest against ICC for illegally firing union member Sulejman Brkic

ICC Silent Protest in Yokohama


Today we held a silent protest against icc language school for violating Japanese labor by firing Tozen member Sulejman Brkic who worked there for 22 years. He was illegally fired after he requested paid holidays and social insurance and pension. Thank you very much everyone for coming in solidarity!

Tozen Vlog for April 8, 2014