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Want (need) to move back to Japan
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Vince



Joined: 05 May 2003
Posts: 485
Location: U.S.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:27 pm    Post subject: Want (need) to move back to Japan Reply with quote

I want to move back to Japan by mid 2014. I have a Japanese wife and a nine-year-old son who was born in the US and doesn't speak Japanese. My immediate concerns are my work and his education. I want my wife to be gainfully employed too, but I'm not concerned about her ability to find work. It's her lack of motivation that will be the problem. In fact, that's what's prompting me to pursue this move.

Almost ten years into living in the US, she still doesn't drive, reluctantly speaks basic English, and doesn't work. I have no doubt that in another ten years, nothing will have changed. She basically insists on being fiercely dependent, playing the "I wasn't born here" card to offload to me whatever she doesn't want to handle. We discussed expectations several times before committing to the move, so I thought we had an understanding. Now I'm done with it. I was driven to be an independent, functional adult in Japan and even in my first year there didn't depend on her nearly as much as she continues to lean on me here. The only livable way out for me is to return to Tokyo, where she can at least walk to the store, take the train, handle appointments, and not have that "I wasn't born here" card.

I grew a lot professionally and personally while back in the US, but not to the point of being able to stroll directly into a posh job in Japan. I'll most probably need to teach EFL while getting established and then start networking for career opportunities with more long-term potential. It would be nice if I could get a job at a vocational college again, but will start at an eikaiwa if necessary. Either way, I'd at least have TEFL. My wife's elderly mother is in a big house by herself, so there's a good chance we could live there at least temporarily (I'd of course take care of the household expenses, and hopefully my wife will chip in too).

The only other major concern is my son's education. He has high-functioning Aspergers, so I want to be sure he has good support (he has had excellent support in the US). I'd also want something not as conformist as a typical Japanese public school. International school would be ideal, but that's not in the cards right now.

So that's my story. Although the marital stuff offers lots of drama, I want to focus on the logistics of getting re-established in Japan. I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have. Although I lived there as an EFL teacher for six years, having a son will make it a different experience.

By the way, my wife doesn't want to go back. It's not that she likes the US or dislikes Japan, but that it's easier for her here. I think she prefers the schooling that my son is getting here, and I agree with that. But she's looking at it from the perspective of public schools. I'm more mindful of alternatives. I think I can persuade her to go, but she'll need to be comfortable with my job prospects and my son's education prospects.
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2buckets



Joined: 14 Dec 2010
Posts: 255
Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rhetorical questions: Did your wife work in Japan? or did she come from a wealthy family with a pampered background?

Did she drive in Japan?

Regarding your son, are you sure he can get proper specialized education in Japan? It would be pretty traumatic being dropped into public school without language skills. I see this as the biggest concern in your plans.

Having six years in country plus a Japanese wife gives you a great advantage over the average foreigner, particularly the lack of visa problems, plus having a place to live initially is also a big plus.

If it were me, I'd take the "bull by the horns" so to speak and go back. Japan is a wealthy country with plenty of opportunities, just be persistent and you'll find something, especially in Tokyo. Having a TEFL background to fall back on is reassuring. You certainly won't starve.

Pardon me for saying. but your wife seems to be in some sort of malaise. Perhaps the shock of returning to the homeland will break her out of it.

Just do it! and good luck!
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 896
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd strongly advise you to reconsider. Things are going to get really grim here in the near future.

Japan's public finances are on the verge of total collapse, and they're going to take the whole economy with it. Crunch time will come some time over the next couple of years. It'll be like Greece, but without Germany at their back to bail them out. It's not the kind of place you want to move your family to. If you must move, wait until after the disaster, and use your hard earned dollars to buy some suddenly-undervalued productive assets.

This is not just pessimistic doom-mongering. This is as real and as certain as it gets when it comes to economic forecasting. I can't tell you when it's going to hit the fan, but most pundits are talking about the next year or two.
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 908

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
I'd strongly advise you to reconsider. Things are going to get really grim here in the near future.

Japan's public finances are on the verge of total collapse, and they're going to take the whole economy with it. Crunch time will come some time over the next couple of years. It'll be like Greece, but without Germany at their back to bail them out. It's not the kind of place you want to move your family to. If you must move, wait until after the disaster, and use your hard earned dollars to buy some suddenly-undervalued productive assets.

This is not just pessimistic doom-mongering. This is as real and as certain as it gets when it comes to economic forecasting. I can't tell you when it's going to hit the fan, but most pundits are talking about the next year or two.


You really think so? I am not disagreeing with you.
Say, let's make a separate thread for this topic, as I am willing to discuss it in length.
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 908

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2buckets wrote:
Rhetorical questions: Did your wife work in Japan? or did she come from a wealthy family with a pampered background?

Did she drive in Japan?

Regarding your son, are you sure he can get proper specialized education in Japan? It would be pretty traumatic being dropped into public school without language skills. I see this as the biggest concern in your plans.

Having six years in country plus a Japanese wife gives you a great advantage over the average foreigner, particularly the lack of visa problems, plus having a place to live initially is also a big plus.

If it were me, I'd take the "bull by the horns" so to speak and go back. Japan is a wealthy country with plenty of opportunities, just be persistent and you'll find something, especially in Tokyo. Having a TEFL background to fall back on is reassuring. You certainly won't starve.

Pardon me for saying. but your wife seems to be in some sort of malaise. Perhaps the shock of returning to the homeland will break her out of it.

Just do it! and good luck!


I agree here. Even though he is 9, he will be in for a massive shock being dumped in public school.

I am not sure if it is a malaise, but many Japanese don't seem to adapt to living in other countries(too much brainwashing imho). So she may be able to kick it, she just needs the motivation to do so.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 398
Location: US

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Want (need) to move back to Japan Reply with quote

I'd agree that if your wife's lack of motivation to do more in the US has driven you to the breaking point, then spending some time in Japan might help her. The other positive is that you could have a free place to stay, and you could get a spousal visa, which would allow you to, at worst, piecemeal together a few part-time jobs into a full-time salary.

One thing you'd need to think about is the job you are leaving in the US -- is it a career that you'd easily be able to get back into in the future?

The question about your son is a big one. International schools in Japan are very expensive, and I'm not sure what kind of specialized education would be offered even there. Normal Japanese schools wouldn't be an option at all because of language reasons but also because there is very little specialized education offered for people like your son. Definitely not worth going until you've figured out a solid solution for your son.

It seems like a long (1-2 months), but temporary stay in Japan might be a better option for your wife.
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Vince



Joined: 05 May 2003
Posts: 485
Location: U.S.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2buckets, thanks for your reply.

She did work in Japan and never said anything about expecting to effectively be retired once we got married, but that changed as soon as we moved in together. She continued working, but after the wedding was suddenly of the conviction that the man works and provides everything. It wasn't the only 180° turn. She actually had what seemed to be a very pleasant job at a family business.

Her father was a VP of a company, and they lived in a nice area. Her parents didn't pamper her, but she apparently developed some unrealistic expectations while coming up in those circumstances during the height of the bubble era.

She didn't drive in Japan, and I made it clear that we shouldn't move to the US if she was reluctant to learn to drive. She'd need to be able to get around during the day while I was at work. With a child on the way, it wasn't an option. That of course goes just as much for learning English and being able to take care of errands. You know, basic adulthood.

Taking the bull by the horns is exactly my feeling. I'm confident about my ability to get re-established in Japan. I've never agreed with the sentiment that "we can't do X, because we're gaijin." As you said, my son's education is my main concern. He's high functioning and doesn't need anything intensive, but does need an atmosphere that understands his challenges while being sensitive enough to see him as his own person, not just an aspie. Ideally, I'd like him to continue his education primarily in English.


Last edited by Vince on Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 455
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The grass is not greener.
I know a guy who gave up and moved to Hawaii.
His son is even worse off with autism as well.
Now he is 18 and going to a community college in Honolulu to prepare him for his future, for him to find some kind of work.

His problem was the opposite. His son was so bad at English.

Do not expect any help in Japan for a kid with special needs.
Expect bullying, if anything.

I could see you coming back but you would return to the US, probably when your son is 15.
Only come back for your son to learn Japanese.
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Inflames



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 403

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mitsui wrote:

Do not expect any help in Japan for a kid with special needs.
Expect bullying, if anything.


IME this is not true. School boards in Japan are obligated to provide any required assistance (provided the parents accept it) for their children at school. This means that children with special needs can go to a regular public school and basically have a full-time "assistant" there with them. I remember a particular case in an elementary school I worked at where one boy had a rather serious issue (to the point where he would be banging his head and shouting in the back of the class) but none of the other students said a word (his assistant always seemed satisfied as well).

I would be more worried about what would happen to the OPs son in Japan as he doesn't really speak the language - I'm not a psychologist but everything might be too much for him. Just to know, how does your wife communicate with your son?
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 896
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The more I think about your post, the more of a dumb move this looks to me. I could spend a great deal of time picking holes in your ideas, but I don't want to turn this into a rant. All I'll say is: I hope you're not serious.

By the way, something strikes me as odd. I hope you'll forgive my prying, but can you confirm that I've got the following facts right:

- You have one child in your home.

- He was raised by you and your wife.

- Your wife is the one who's usually at home with him.

- She shows little enthusiasm for using English.

So why aren't they speaking to each other in Japanese?
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Vince



Joined: 05 May 2003
Posts: 485
Location: U.S.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
The more I think about your post, the more of a dumb move this looks to me. I could spend a great deal of time picking holes in your ideas, but I don't want to turn this into a rant. All I'll say is: I hope you're not serious.

It's certainly not the way I hoped to go back to Japan, and I'm not about to jump on a plane tomorrow. My son's education is my biggest concern, and I'd want to have that sorted out before making the move. If there isn't a clear way to do that, I'll make other plans.

I'm not an economics guy, but a few of the articles I found spoke of Japan starting to look up a bit. I'm glad you brought it up though, and I'll do more research.

Quote:
So why aren't they speaking to each other in Japanese?

She speaks enough English to take care of stuff at home, so they communicate in English without too many problems. It's for the next step, getting outside of the house more and handling the things that she should be handling, that she lacks enthusiasm. I looked up ESL programs for her after we got situated, but she wasn't interested. She wants enough English to get by at home, but not so much that people would start expecting her to do more.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 398
Location: US

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vince wrote:
She did work in Japan and never said anything about expecting to effectively be retired once we got married, but that changed as soon as we moved in together. She continued working, but after the wedding was suddenly of the conviction that the man works and provides everything. It wasn't the only 180° turn. She actually had what seemed to be a very pleasant job at a family business.

It's a pretty common mentality in Japan that when a woman gets married, she quits her job and becomes a stay-at-home-wife/mom. Of course not everyone does that, but it is a pretty commonly-held idea. I'm not saying I agree with this, just saying that your wife isn't odd for thinking this way, and I'm not sure if just being in Japan will make her go out and get a job.

Quote:
She didn't drive Japan, and I made it clear that we shouldn't move to the US if she was reluctant to learn to drive. She'd need to be able to get around during the day while I was at work. With a child on the way, it wasn't an option. That of course goes just as much for learning English and being able to take care of errands. You know, basic adulthood.

I know hindsight is 20/20, but expecting someone who never drove in their home country, where they speak the language, to learn to drive for the first time in a foreign country where they have very limited language ability and have a small child was a bit too optimistic.

Quote:
As you said, my son's education is my main concern. He's high functioning and doesn't need anything intensive, but does need an atmosphere that understands his challenges while being sensitive enough to see him as his own person, not just an aspie. Ideally, I'd like him to continue his education primarily in English.

International schools will run you around 1.5-2.5m yen ($15k-$25k) per year for tuition alone, plus other fees (uniforms, school trips, transportation costs, lunches, etc.) If you're saving money by living with your wife's family for free, or if your wife gets a job that will cover your son's education, then it might be possible.
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 896
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vince wrote:
My son's education is my biggest concern

Then why are we having this conversation? Do you have any financial tricks up your sleeve? (E.g. the kind of qualifications and experience that can pull in a much higher wage than most EFL teachers?) Because if you don't, you'll have almost no control over how your son is educated; you'll just have to accept what the Board of Education gives you when you arrive.
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 104

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vince wrote:
Pitarou wrote:
The more I think about your post, the more of a dumb move this looks to me. I could spend a great deal of time picking holes in your ideas, but I don't want to turn this into a rant. All I'll say is: I hope you're not serious.

It's certainly not the way I hoped to go back to Japan, and I'm not about to jump on a plane tomorrow. My son's education is my biggest concern, and I'd want to have that sorted out before making the move. If there isn't a clear way to do that, I'll make other plans.

I'm not an economics guy, but a few of the articles I found spoke of Japan starting to look up a bit. I'm glad you brought it up though, and I'll do more research.

Quote:
So why aren't they speaking to each other in Japanese?

She speaks enough English to take care of stuff at home, so they communicate in English without too many problems. It's for the next step, getting outside of the house more and handling the things that she should be handling, that she lacks enthusiasm. I looked up ESL programs for her after we got situated, but she wasn't interested. She wants enough English to get by at home, but not so much that people would start expecting her to do more.


The situation you outlined concerning your wife was my worst fear when we went back to the US 9 years ago (we've since come back). The year before we returned we switched from speaking 80% Japanese to 80% English (though, her English was pretty good already) and within a year of being in the US she was pretty much independent, though my Japanese ability certainly went downhill while we were there. I imagine your situation must be pretty tough. Do you speak English at home, or only Japanese?

Anyway, good luck with whatever you decide, though I have to concur with those saying to stay put---it may just be easier, especially considering your son, in the long run to adopt a tough love situation with your wife concerning English and try to light a fire under her ass instead.
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Vince



Joined: 05 May 2003
Posts: 485
Location: U.S.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
Then why are we having this conversation? Do you have any financial tricks up your sleeve? (E.g. the kind of qualifications and experience that can pull in a much higher wage than most EFL teachers?) Because if you don't, you'll have almost no control over how your son is educated; you'll just have to accept what the Board of Education gives you when you arrive.

You might be right, in which case I'd either hold out for a better opportunity or not go at all. I just want to be sure I'm not missing any alternatives.

jmatt wrote:
Do you speak English at home, or only Japanese?

I speak English, and she speaks a mix of English and Japanese to me. I've suggested that she speak English only, but she isn't interested in that.

I get that she's from a different culture and didn't drive. First, my country has a culture too, and that's where she chose to live. Second, a grown adult shouldn't move halfway around the world with the expectation that she'll permanently sit at home and have somebody else be responsible for her transportation and communication.
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