A. The Road From Kumamoto Women's University to the Prefectural University of Kumamoto

In 1982, what was then Kumamoto Women's University hired its first foreign teacher. That teacher was hired as a 'special part-time irregular foreign teacher' (tokubetsu shokutaku hijoukin gaikokujin kyoushi). No other teacher at the university was hired under such classification. All the Japanese teachers were either full-time, regular teachers (senninkyouin) or true part-time teachers who came to teach one or two specific courses at the university from outside institutions (hijoukin). Since 1982, the foreign teachers have tried to discuss this issue with the University and improve their situation. Their efforts have been unsuccessful.

In 1994, Kumamoto Women's University was transformed into the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. Under its new identity and purpose, all English courses and responsibility for developing the English language program in the newly created Faculty of Administrative Studies were given to 'native' teachers. The University, however, also gave foreign teachers, whose numbers by now had reached nine, inferior contracts to those of their Japanese colleagues.

To receive accreditation for the new faculty from the Mombusho, the University had submitted the names and qualifications of its teachers, and in 1993 the nine foreign teachers, along with their Japanese colleagues, signed documents for Mombusho addressed to the Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, accepting appointment as 'full -time' teachers affiliated to the Faculty of Administrative Studies. The expression 'full-time' was senninkyouin in the Japanese version of those documents.

In April 1994, despite the Monbusho documents and promises of full-time employment and faculty affiliation, four of the foreign teachers continued to be employed under the one-year 'irregular' status while the other five foreign teachers, among whose number is a Korean economics teacher, were given regular appointments but with a three-year term. Moreover, only one of the teachers was actually assigned to the Faculty of Administrative Studies; the others were attached to the Foreign Language Education Center, which is not a teaching organ of the University, but a facility much like the library or the gymnasium. In 1995 and 1996, the University added four more foreign teachers to its staff all employed as 'special part time irregular foreign teachers '.

B . Formation of the Kumamoto General Union

From April 1994 until April 1997, the foreign teachers continually asked for the removal of discriminatory term limits on their employment, and for the honoring of the promises of full-time employment and faculty affiliation given to all full-time staff in 1993. In 1995, the University did give faculty affiliation to the three-year term foreign teachers and permitted the other foreign teachers to attend faculty meetings, albeit without voting rights. However, term limits were not removed nor were the part-time contracts of the foreign teachers improved.

The University's employment policies arc undermining its educational goals. More than half of the general education English classes are being taught by professionals, who because of their nationality, are excluded from decision making relating to their field. New curricula for English classes throughout the University have been approved virtually without the input from the teachers with the most experience teaching communicative English. Even the University's own Self-Evaluation which was published in 1996 recognized the seriousness of the problem caused by employing foreign teachers under untenable employment policies. (Kumamoto Kenritsu Daigaku no genjou to kadai, 1996) .

Disheartened by increasingly demanding renewal processes, faced with greater insecurity, and disappointed by the continued refusal of the University to honor its 1993 undertakings, a number of the foreign teachers sought legal advice. They were encouraged to join a labor union. Denied membership in the main University Teachers ' Union due to their part-time contracts, the foreign teachers formed the Kumamoto Genera] Union, affiliated with the National Union of General Workers, in July, 1997.

Claims were submitted asking for the foreign teachers to be given 'full-time' contracts, and for the ending of term limits and other discriminatory conditions. Negotiations between the Union and the University together with the Prefecture began in October, 1997, and continued until unilaterally broken off by the President of the University in February, 1 998. The University and Prefecture have rejected all the Union 's claims and refused to give any explanation for their employment practices regarding foreign teachers except to say that they were 'appropriate'.

In January 1 998, the University insisted that its one-year foreign teachers either sign a letter accepting candidacy for employment from April 1998 or not be considered for employment at all. Since the new contracts were inferior to the previous ones, the Kumamoto General Union immediately requested further negotiations, questioning the legality of the new contracts and pointing out that worsening the terms of employment appeared to be in breach of the Labor Standards Act.

C . What Is Discrimination at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto and at a Japanese Universities in General?

There is a long tradition of treating foreigners differently at Japanese universities and for more than one hundred years Monbusho has directed national universities to employ foreign teachers on contracts that are full-time, but with one-year employment terms. Unlike their Japanese colleagues who may be promoted, the foreign professor are officially designated as Foreign Teachers (gaikokujin kyoushi) and cannot be promoted. Since 1982 , however, a national piece of legislation, Foreign Faculty Employment Law, authorized universities to employ foreign teachers on the same terms and conditions as Japanese staff. Nonetheless, many national and public universities continue to employ foreign teachers under old style Foreign Teacher contracts.

At a March 2, 1998 meeting, Monbusho representatives stated that they recognized only two types of faculty: sennin kyouin and hijoukin -- full-time (regular) and part-time teachers. All Japanese full-time teachers have regular appointment without term limits. (A law has been passed allowing universities to institute term limits for Japanese teachers but none has yet applied term limits to their Japanese staff.) Full-time teachers have their own research budgets and offices. Their work consists in teaching and administrative responsibilities. Promotion from one teaching rank to another is determined almost exclusively by the amount of research papers and books published.

On the other hand, part-time teachers are appointed to teach one or two specific courses only, receive one-year appointments, have no administrative responsibilities, and are paid by the class taught. They receive no payment during university vacations nor research funding.

At the Prefectural University of Kumamoto, however, the contracts for foreign teachers are even worse than the full-time, one-year term contracts common at national universities. The foreign teachers teach the maximum work load and have their own office/research room at the University. They receive the same basic research budget, publish research, and provide regular reports on their research in the same way as their Japanese colleagues. Moreover, they have been members of the Language Center Working Committee and have been responsible for Language Center budget expenditure, making timetables, and participating in writing the English curriculum for the Administrative Studies Faculty. They have participated in department meeting since 1988 and Faculty meetings since 1995. Yet, while their jobs are just as full-time as those of their Japanese colleagues, they are given contracts which are officially classified as 'special part-time irregular'.

Although the foreign teachers are paid a salary and receive salary scale increases, since they are designated as part-time, they receive no bonuses, retirement allowances, are ineligible for promotion, and are far less secure than their Japanese colleagues who are employed without term limits

Since the 1993 legislation, an increasing number of public univeristies have chosen to employ theri teachers without regard to nationality.Yamaguchi Prefectural University, Aizu University, and Miyazaki Municipal University are four new universities which give equal treatment to their foreign staff. In contrast, the Prefectural University of Kumamoto persists in its archaic discriminatory employment practices.

Teachers at other universities in Japan also face inferior working conditions and unfair dismissals, especially after the 1992 Monbusho Guidelines were issued encouraging universities not to renew the contracts of older foreign faculty members, to hire younger and less expensive staff members, and specify termination dates for its foreign employees. After 12 years of unblemished service, Gwendolyn Gallagher, a teacher at Asahikawa University in Hokkaido, was laid off to 'bring in fresh new foreign faces'. Although she filed for and received an injunction directing the University to reinstate her, within a year, the university had once again fired her. Her case is now pending in court. Timothy J. Korst, a Foreign Teacher (gaikokujin kyoushi) hired on the one-year contracts given only to foreign teachers, was fired in April, 1998 from the University of the Ryukyus, a national university. He is currently suing the school for reinstatement of his position and for abolition of employment discrimination on the basis of nationality. He had to form his own union to get his case heard. His case is pending in court where the university is claiming that as a foreigner, he is neither a typical (ippan) nor special (tokubetsu) civil servant, therefore Japanese employment laws do not protect him.

Legal lines of reasoning like these raise serious doubts about the good faith of the university's employment practices and highlight the entrenched notions in universities that foreign teachers, simply because they are foreign, naturally are treated differently from Japanese teachers. All of the full-time teachers at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto and at many other universities have contracts which are different from and worse than those of any of their full-time Japanese colleagues. None of these Japanese teachers is employed on ' part-time' or 'irregular' contracts; none has term limits on their employment. These differences are clearly based on nationality, a fact reflected by the one of the job titles used for non-Japanese teachers: Foreign Teacher.