You may have seen him on TV, commenting on Nova teachers who lost their income and housing when the language school went bankrupt in November 2007. Or you may have seen him marching through Shibuya, leading a chant of “Tatakau zo! (We’ll fight!)” and calling for solidarity and action among workers. Or you may have seen him on the streets, handing out fliers he penned himself calling for an end to unfair dismissal.
On any of the above occasions, Louis Carlet, the vice secretary general of the 2,600-member-strong National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu (NUGW), of whom 15 percent are foreigners, is at ease with himself, pursuing his cause in flawless Japanese.
Carlet urges fellow foreigners to learn the Japanese language as best they can, and notes that he lives in a completely Japanese environment.
“I don’t support segregation,” said Carlet, who, despite often open and blatant discrimination against foreigners, plans to stay in Japan. “I want to be a normal part of society, separate my garbage properly and all that.
“And I think foreigners should learn Japanese, and I often pressure foreigners, ‘If you live here, learn Japanese. Even if you are here for two years, learn Japanese.’ “