Kumamoto General Union
National Union Of General Workers, National Workers' Council
1-100 Tsukide 3-chome, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto 862-8502

FAQ: Some Frequently Asked Questions 
Regarding the Situation of the Foreign Teachers at 
the Prefectural University of Kumamoto
Answered by the Kumamoto General Union

Q1:How is the employment of foreign teachers different from the employment of Japanese teachers?

A1:All of the Japanese senninkyouin (full-time, regularly employed teachers) have unlimited term employment. In contrast, all of the foreign senninkyouin have limited term employment, one year or three year terms. Moreover, many of these foreign teachers are employed as special part-time irregular teachers.

Q2:What is employment discrimination on the basis of nationality?

A2:If you are treated differently and worse than your colleagues because you are not from Japan, then you are a victim of discrimination. This is specifically forbidden by the Labor Standards Act, the Japanese Constitution, and the U.N. Convention of Human Rights, which Japan has signed.

Q3:Japanese people are employed on special part-time irregular contracts so how can foreign teachers say it is discriminatory to be employed this way?

A3:At Japanese public universities, administrative assistants and cleaners are employed on these contracts. No Japanese senninkyouin are employed in this way; only foreign teachers are appointed as special part-time irregular employees. The reason this practice is discriminatory is that foreign teachers are employed under worse conditions than their Japanese colleagues, only because they are not Japanese.

Q4:How are these special part-time irregular appointments worse than regular appointments?

A4:Under the special terms of employment, foreign teachers do not receive bonuses, a retirement allowance, or numerous other benefits. For example, there are no provisions for promotion, and special foreign teachers cannot vote in university elections. Also, as one-year appointments, the special terms are much less secure than the unlimited term appointments that Japanese senninkyouin work under.

Q5:Why are these contracts inappropriate?

A5:At this University, the foreign teachers have been formally recognized as senninkyouin by the Ministry of Education. Like their Japanese colleagues, they have individual offices on campus and research budgets; they receive a regular salary which increases according to length of service. It is incongruous that full-time teachers such as these should be employed as irregular part-time teachers. No Japanese senninkyouin in public universities are employed on such inappropriate terms.

Q6:Isn't ninkisei (term employment) legal?

A6:Although the law does permit universities to introduce ninkisei, it is not a justification for discriminatory employment practices. To date,
ninkisei has not been introduced for Japanese teachers at this University or at any other public university. Only the foreign teachers are
employed on term contracts, and Japanese laws still prohibit such discriminatory treatment.

Q7:Foreign senninkyouin don't have to do research, do they?

A7:Incorrect. Foreign senninkyouin have responsibility to do research in the same way as their Japanese colleagues. They receive basic research budgets on the same scale and report on their research in the same way as Japanese senninkyouin. The problem with being special here is that even though they do research, foreign teachers are still ineligible for promotion.

Q8:Foreign senninkyouin don't have administrative responsibilities, do they?

A8:Incorrect. The foreign senninkyouin were members of the Language Center Working Committee from 1994. They have been responsible for Language Center budget expenditures and for making timetables for English courses. They have participated in the writing of the English Curriculum for the Administrative Studies Faculty. They have participated in department meetings since 1988 and Faculty meetings since 1995.

Q9:Can the foreign teachers be given regular contracts?

A9:Yes. There is no legal impediment to the regularization of public employees who are working on irregular contracts. Moreover, in formal negotiations with the Kumamoto General Union on February 10, 1998, the President of the University stated that the University could regularize the foreign teachers if it wanted to.

Q10.Isn't the number of regular teachers set by the Prefectural Assembly?

A10:Yes. The number of regular prefectural employees is set by the Assembly, and regular teachers at the university are no exception. All the University has to do is propose regularization to the Assembly.

Q11:Isn't it common for public universities to employ foreign teachers in a way that is different from Japanese teachers?

A11:Yes. Sadly many universities do this. However, different treatment based on nationality is discriminatory, and an increasing number of universities have realized the inappropriacy of such discrimination. The number includes universities in Aichi, Aizu, Hiroshima, Miyazaki, and Yamaguchi, all of which are now treating teachers without regard to nationality.

Q12:Kumamoto Prefecture is in a budget crunch so it can't afford to regularize the foreign teachers, can it?

A12:Wrong. Regularizing the contracts of a small group of foreign teachers would require very little of the Prefecture's budget.

Q13:What does Kumamoto gain in return for regularizing foreign teachers?

A13:The current discriminatory practices of hiring foreign teachers under different, worse conditions nullify the Prefecture's efforts to bring about true internationalization. Discrimination tarnishes Kumamoto's image and diminishes educational opportunities for students at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. Ending discrimination based on nationality will put Kumamoto back on the right track.

Q14:What's the solution?

A14:Regularize the foreign teachers. Where there's a will there's a way.