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Returning to Japan
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 4:33 am    Post subject: Returning to Japan Reply with quote

Hey!

Sorry if this has been hashed over on previous threads, but thought I'd see what you all think.

I've just finished my M.Ed. TESOL and the plan had been for my family to return to Japan (wife is Japanese & we have two young daughters---4 and 1), but since there seems to be so much conflicting information concerning the nuclear situation, we (especially my wife) have been pretty leery to come back, despite having lots of friends and family in Tokyo and a pretty sweet living set-up in the in-laws big 2 family house in Ogikubo, Suginami near where we used to live in Koenji---or we could live in their house in Nagano. Though, my brother-in-law, who lives in east Tokyo near Nishi-Funabashi stn. with his wife and young daughter, thinks we'd be crazy to come back. They spent a few weeks here in Portland, OR this past summer so their daughter could play outside---they've been pretty reluctant to let her do it there due to radiation fears.

Hard to get any reliable information about it. Many of our friends seem to think it isn't much of a problem, since we'd be living in west Tokyo (or Nagano) at a higher elevation, and the possibility of radiation would be lessened.

Just wondering what people here think about the situation.

Thanks!
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Tsian



Joined: 10 Jan 2012
Posts: 85

PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been discussed pretty widely elsewhere in this forum (and on other forums), but there tends to be two camps:

a) People who feel that any lack of certainty means that Japan is simply not safe to live in and that all the people anywhere near Fukushima are at risk

b) People who accept the available scientific data which shows that there is no provable increase in risk due to the radiation (especially in Tokyo -- where radiation is as low as ever).

For the record, I live in Chiba. I would happily work in Fukushima.
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Kionon



Joined: 12 Apr 2008
Posts: 226
Location: Kyoto, Japan and Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with Tsian.

You're more likely to get hit by a car walking across a street on some idle Tuesday than have to worry about becoming SuperJMatt with glow in the dark powers.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the fears about radiation have stemmed from poor or false reports from the government and TEPCO. My feeling is that unless you live very close to Fukushima, you shouldn't worry.

The other side of the coin is how you plan to support yourselves. Even with accommodation provided by the in-laws, I'm sure you'd want to pay them something, and before long it would be easy to wear out your welcome. That means moving into a place of your own, paying the up-front costs that I'm sure you know about, and providing for shelter, food, schooling, etc.
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 6:32 am    Post subject: Kids Reply with quote

Kionon wrote:
I'm with Tsian.

You're more likely to get hit by a car walking across a street on some idle Tuesday than have to worry about becoming SuperJMatt with glow in the dark powers.


Agree---but if it were just me and the wife, I wouldn't be too worried about it. However, having two very young daughters changes the situation. Although remote, having one of them get sick or come down with radiation-caused cancer 10 years down the road, when we had the choice not to return, is something to think about.

Like I mentioned, just so much conflicting information---though certainly take the overly negative---and positive ones with a grain of salt.

Thanks!
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 6:41 am    Post subject: Thanks! Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
I think the fears about radiation have stemmed from poor or false reports from the government and TEPCO. My feeling is that unless you live very close to Fukushima, you shouldn't worry.

The other side of the coin is how you plan to support yourselves. Even with accommodation provided by the in-laws, I'm sure you'd want to pay them something, and before long it would be easy to wear out your welcome. That means moving into a place of your own, paying the up-front costs that I'm sure you know about, and providing for shelter, food, schooling, etc.


As mentioned, I've got a master's, as well as 7 years experience in Tokyo. Lived in my own apartments in Kichijoji and Koenji, so well-versed in the reikin/shikikin situation. Know & get along with the in-laws well, their place is in a great part of the city with lots of friends nearby, and essentially we'd have a big 3LDK to ourselves, while they'd live in the same below us, so that's not an issue. More of an issue is what my wife would do for work---not so easy for a 30+ woman to transition back in the workforce after years away.

Thanks!
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That still did not answer my question about how you plan to support yourselves. Time of year that you arrive will make a difference in available jobs. You have not said what you did per-masters or what you hope to do now. Depending how long you've been gone, things in TEFL here may have changed significantly, too.

Last edited by Glenski on Sun May 27, 2012 4:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 7:48 am    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
That still did not answer my question about how you plan to support yourselves. Time of year that you arrive will make a difference in available jobs. You have not said what you did per-masters or what you hope to do now. Depending how long you've been gone, things in TEFLON here may have changed significantly, too.


My experience is in EFL/ESL--taught in Boston, then Japan, Cambodia & Indonesia.

The last 6 years I've worked bartending and volunteering in ESL classes. Very, very few jobs here in Portland without a master's, and few with it.

Wife was an OL at an international insurance company and worked part-time at a bar where we lived---Koenji.

I know that the time of year is crucial for college/uni/hs jobs and that the field has shaken out post-Nova implosion. Timing also critical---I had planned to graduate last December but had to put it on hold due to a death in the family which kept me from finishing my thesis. Have a friend who teaches at a college in Shinjuku, was promoted, and had to hire his replacement---would have hired me had we been there. Said he'd received a dearth of CV's for the job and ended up holding his nose and hiring a guy who was spotted on his second day guzzling Chu-Hi outside the school on his lunch break. When my friend confronted him to ask about it, he blithely said "Well, OK. But you know there's nothing in the contract that states I can't drink during lunch," though he did agree that it may not be particularly professional. Amazing. My friend was flummoxed and had to agree, mainly because they had no other immediate prospects, but asked him to refrain from doing so in the future.

Don't know if that sort of attitude is because some teachers with Master's degrees feel it's a seller's market at the moment, or what. Can't imagine being so ballsy and unprofessional---has it really shaken out that much?

Anyway, due to our living situation if we return, I won't be pressed to find a job immediately and can take my time sorting things out.
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G Cthulhu



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 1321
Location: Way, way off course.

PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
That still did not answer my question about how you plan to support yourselves.


Not a concern of yours or ours. They were asking about safety. I'm sure they're a big boy and it's occurred to them that they might need a job here in order to live. Rolling Eyes
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G Cthulhu



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 1321
Location: Way, way off course.

PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 3:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Returning to Japan Reply with quote

jmatt wrote:

Hard to get any reliable information about it. Many of our friends seem to think it isn't much of a problem, since we'd be living in west Tokyo (or Nagano) at a higher elevation, and the possibility of radiation would be lessened.


It's not difficult to get reliable information. I'm with the others that have commented to the same effect: the only real problem is the doom merchants screaming for attention about Teh Radiaztionz. A understanding of basic physics should be enough to tell you that there is zero risk at this point unless you're in line of sight of the plant.

If it all suddenly explodes and sends particulate matter into the air then you might have a concern, if you happened to be downwind. If (for the latest meme horror for the whole thing) the storage pools suddenly drop their entire load of water into the pacific then you don't want to be eating fish from that area for the next 12 months (I'd be more concerned about mercury levels in fish outright than radiation) and that's about it.

Let's all say it one more time in the hope that the scaremongerers get it into their thick heads: radioactive particles travel in straight lines only.

It is inverse exponentially damaging by distance. You'll get more ionizing radiation standing within a metre of a microwave than you will be 20+km from Fukushima, if it happened to be exploding at the time.
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Mr_Monkey



Joined: 11 Mar 2009
Posts: 661
Location: Kyuuuuuushuuuuuuu

PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 5:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Returning to Japan Reply with quote

G Cthulhu wrote:
Let's all say it one more time in the hope that the scaremongerers get it into their thick heads: radioactive particles travel in straight lines only.

It is inverse exponentially damaging by distance. You'll get more ionizing radiation standing within a metre of a microwave than you will be 20+km from Fukushima, if it happened to be exploding at the time.
I agree with the general intent here, except for the bit about radioactive particles only travelling in straight lines. They don't: decay products do (alpha, beta and gamma radiation), but the unstable atoms themselves are at the mercy of atmospheric conditions; rain and wind.

Nevertheless, I agree with your overall point. The general risks are overstated by some, from what I have seen.
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G Cthulhu



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 1321
Location: Way, way off course.

PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 4:12 am    Post subject: Re: Returning to Japan Reply with quote

Shush. Smile I'm trying to keep it simple. Wink
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmatt,
Thanks for being open and receptive enough to answer my question.

I would suspect that the Chu-hi drinker will not have his contract renewed if he is caught again. There may not be a rule against drinking on lunch break, but there is also no guarantee that the contract has to be renewed.

I would also caution against being too sure that your friend could actually guarantee being able to hire you, unless he is in a real seat of authority. Those things still have to go through committee. Nice to know you have a contact, though.

I couldn't say whether a lot or a few uni teachers are that way. The ones I know are most certainly not, but I also know of a few who could easily be! It is indeed surprising to see such an attitude by them in an environment where temporary work conditions are the norm here.

Nice to know you actually would have the time to job hunt after you arrive. I hope you take advantage of this site and others to get any questions answered along those lines. Best of luck.
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pnksweater



Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 173
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it is largely the nature of part time (non-tenure, contract) university work that leads to this sort of behavior. A massive number of universities have special hiring practices for foreign staff, most with caps on contract renewal. If you can be non-renewed with no prior notice, or you have to keep hopping job to job every 2 to 3 years, I suppose youd stop taking your position so seriously. Fully investing in your job while searching for the next paying gig is stressful and exhausting. Its enough that I have some serious reservations about returning to the Japanese university sphere.

But yes, such behavior can lead to non-renewal. Since firing someone is rather difficult in Japan, non-renewal is how undesirable workers are disposed of. That position may be open again before too long.

Good luck with the relocation and job search.
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GordR



Joined: 24 Jan 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Kobe, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even non-renewal is difficult here. You have to break the rules quite blatantly to NOT get your uni contract renewed. It is a shame how people will act knowing that their job is "safe".
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