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Why did you leave Japan (or why will you?)
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 431

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 12:21 pm    Post subject: Why did you leave Japan (or why will you?) Reply with quote

Just curious as to why some of you have moved on - or will move on. Could be as simple as better job prospects elsewhere, wanting to go home, or something more to do with Japan itself.

At the moment I'm quite content here, though I do find the culture a little stifling at times. Despite liking it now, I question living here long term - I think living here as a foreigner might get tiring after a while.

Please indulge my curiosity.
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Black_Beer_Man



Joined: 26 Mar 2013
Posts: 408
Location: Yokohama

PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I imagine a lot of teachers leave Japan because they don't see a future here.

More than ever, it's hard to earn anything more than a survival salary. Most advertised teaching positions have salaries in the 220,000 yen ~ 250,000 yen range. They've been stuck at 250,000 for the past 20 years.

Since then, taxes, national health insurance and prices have gone up eating into what's left of your salary after paying rent.

Besides a rather weak economy, competition for jobs has kept salaries down. There are plenty of English teachers in Japan and now we have to also compete against Filipino English teachers teaching online (from call centers in the Philippines) with Skype for a fraction of what in-person teachers get paid (I've heard of these services offering unlimited lessons at 10,000 yen per month).

Adding to this perfect storm is the fact that colleges are closing due to low enrollment due to Japan's low birthrate.

To get nice well-paying stable university teaching jobs, you have to be very fluent in Japanese and have publications to show how prestigious you are. Or you need to at least have connections.

There aren't many in-between job options. You either work for a low salary and enjoy living in Japan for a couple of years or you place all of your eggs in the one basket called Japan and dedicate your life to your students and your life here.
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victory7



Joined: 22 Mar 2016
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Black Beer Man - you've almost nailed it. I disagree about the salary you quoted as usual because it's less in many cases. There are jobs at ekaiwa all over Japan regularly advertised at 220,000 yen per month for a genuine job.

By 'genuine' I mean a job that provides a basic living income. I don't have and never will work in some job categories including the ones where you don't earn s......... til you teach a class.

To everyone here and newbies looking for work in Japn, esp Tokyo - DON'T work for the employers that do this. They advertise that you can earn 220,000 yen per month but that's ONLY if you can get enough students coming to you. These schools (English Village is one of these) should be avoided like a communicable disease.

Many Jp people already think they and their culture are superior to non Japanese. English teaching sometimes brings out the worst of those feelings. The race to the bottom schools like EV, GABA etc cater to those Japanese people by driving teachers' wages down.

I'll be leaving Japan when I've finished some goals. I've got a stable job situation. But I won't be looking to keep my family here. Foreigners are deluded if they think Japan is changing for real. It aint. The display of the Japanese War Flag by the SDF in public now and showing it for all to see when the much closer to uyoku than you think PM Abe goes to visit the military made my mind up.

Many Japanese are good people. But the militarism and open move to common ground with the far right has always been around in the ruling Jiminto party. Ordinary Japanese and foreigners here cannot do anything about that because of the power structure of Jp society.

How many of you know the number of Jp politicians who are members of the Nippon Kaigi society that seeks to undo the pacifism and other good aspects of Jp since the end of WW2? Do the research. Wikipedia has some info. The Mayor of Tokyo was involved in keeping the truth about WW2 out of textbooks and censoring those that did. Hint - not talking about Ishihara but Koike.

Japan will soon be one third of people aged over 65. Not good for any of our prospects. They will not change anything but will sit back and cheer the increasing far right influence in the nation's life. Declining GDP and increasing debt will be felt heavily.

Unlike my country the USA which has a much younger population thanks to immigration, the Japanese are more than willing to impose their own decay quickly instead of having even small real immigration intakes.

They want it - let em have it.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 998
Location: US

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:46 am    Post subject: Re: Why did you leave Japan (or why will you?) Reply with quote

Sudz wrote:
Just curious as to why some of you have moved on - or will move on. Could be as simple as better job prospects elsewhere, wanting to go home, or something more to do with Japan itself.

I lived in Japan for nearly 10 years, and left about 8 years ago, mostly due to a lack of a clear path forward with just a vanilla BA. I left to go to grad school and although I originally intended to return to Japan, I found other opportunities elsewhere.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 1164
Location: Ecuador

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We left after 2 years because of a combination of the devaluation of the Yen and the dire work opportunities available. I also didn't particularly like Japanese culture, though that didn't drive me to leave, but if I had loved it, it may have pulled me to stay. I had a relatively cushy university job, but despite having qualifications and experience, the best job I could get in Japan would still always be worse than the worst job I would get elsewhere. It was an interesting experience, but I wouldn't go back.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1477
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will leave by spring, if all goes to plan.
It is getting harder here. At a university where I work, the part-time jobs will be gone by summer.
Part-time work only for the spring semester and nothing for the fall.
At best I can get a 3 year contract, with a commute of 80-90 minutes.
The school just wants full-timers and they will give them up to 13 koma in the future.

Or I could work somwhere else but I would have to work on Saturdays too.
Long commute too, with a 5 year contract.

The only way to make it, is to live like a migrant laborer, moving around from job to job. Thing is, my wife doesn't want to move.

The longer I live here, the less sleep get, the less money I make and the earlier I have to get up.

This country is dying, slowly.


Last edited by mitsui on Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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Black_Beer_Man



Joined: 26 Mar 2013
Posts: 408
Location: Yokohama

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="mitsui".
The school just wants full-timers and they will give them up to 13 koma in the future.
y.[/quote]

13 koma???

What number is that?

Sounds like Japanese slang.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 1164
Location: Ecuador

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Koma is a 90 minute university class. So 13 koma would be 19.5 contact hours a week.
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Black_Beer_Man



Joined: 26 Mar 2013
Posts: 408
Location: Yokohama

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another problem with working in Japan is the high cost of the national health insurance and all the taxes you have to pay (residence, income and sales).

If you're lucky enough to get an employer that pays all or half of your health insurance, you'll be in a better position, but jobs for newbies will almost certainly not pay for that.

In may case, my employers pay nothing. I had a good year income-wise last year. I worked a lot. I had well-paying gigs. I worked hard.

What did I get out of it? The govt. doubled my monthly national health insurance payments to about half the amount I pay in apartment rent.

My residence tax went also doubled. My monthly income tax deductions are quite punishing too.

The health insurance and residence tax rates are based on your last year's income. So basically, if you work hard, the govt. will just reach into your pocket and grab more money for themselves.

Beyond a certain income level, it just fees like you're working for the government in Japan.

It's not worth working in Japan IMHO. Not long term anyway.
It's good for a year or two to experience the culture.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1477
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the teachers would work more for the same pay in the future.
Meanwhile all the English part-timers would have no work for the fall semester.
10 koma is a lot. Try teaching 13 with research expected.
Pretty stressful to have that load with a three year contract, that could be renewed, or not.

Other schools do different things like outsource to ECC or Westgate.
Or limit teachers to just two classes per day.
I have even seen universities which advertise for just one class.

Fewer students means less money.

Yes, back in the US I can get paid better. Unfortunately my spouse wants to keep paying for Japanese health insurance even in the US. I can't deny that the cost of drugs and surgery in the US is higher.
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kzjohn



Joined: 30 Apr 2014
Posts: 232

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, to be a little contrarian...

I will never leave Japan. My ashes (at my request) will be sprinkled into one of the rivers that flow thru town.

Post-retirement, about five months off, I will do short stints in China or Vietnam, or volunteer teach there or some other SE asia places. I really enjoy teaching and working with people, and doing it without having to factor money in would be great.

I've had requests to do hours here and there around town, but I'd prefer not to continue on locally doing part-time hours, which would be totally boring and more of the same-old, same-old.

I'll be 65 this month. But still, I'd like to do something interesting/challenging/new/different/unusual. I hope someone will have/accept me.

In spite of having degrees in Linguistics and Communications, it's all you young 'uns, and age discrimination that I have to deal with.
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Harp



Joined: 09 Jan 2014
Posts: 41
Location: As far north as you can get, before you hit Saitama

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I won't be leaving either, well, at least not until I retire.

I've been here 20 years or so and have carved out my little niche. My job pays the mortgage and enables me to save and invest a little, so giving that all up and returning home (the UK) and starting over again does not seem like a good prospect.

Sometimes I get wistful about living back in England, but then a quick read of the papers puts me straight. I like the idea of living in England, not sure I'd like the reality. But it is nice to go back and see friends and family and for that holidays are fine.

If/when the big one hits I'll maybe reevaluate, but it would take a major seismic shift (figuratively and literally) to make us move back.

After retirement who knows? I'm not a great fan of Japanese summers (who is!?) so I can see myself and my wife splitting our time between Europe and Japan, maybe, or moving somewhere else more permanently.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1477
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How much does one one need for a mortgage?
I can make more in the US.
If I stayed in Japan I bet I could be part-time by my mid-50s, stuck paying a mortgage. I know one American who is doing that and his spouse has to work too. They want to pay it off as fast as possible.
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Harp



Joined: 09 Jan 2014
Posts: 41
Location: As far north as you can get, before you hit Saitama

PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I need to work full time for my mortgage and guess I will continue to do that until I retire. Quite happy to continue to do that in Japan because, as I said, the UK doesn't look such a hot ticket just now.

Not so bothered about paying it off early, loans are so cheap here that it isn't a huge drain - also you can easily go to your bank and just hint that you're thinking of switching to a better deal over the road and they will bend over backwards to offer a deal to keep you in line.
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Willy_In_Japan



Joined: 20 Jul 2004
Posts: 329

PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I left Japan in fall of 2010 after being in Japan for 8 years.

I was an ALT, but my school got tired of me. My ALT dispatch company presented me with a choice of commuting 3 hours or moving apartments. I had kind of 'moved in' and had built a fully equipped apartment with everything from a king sized bed to a big screen HD TV and washer/dryer. I had 40 private students and never had to worry about money. I thought that it was time to go home. I deluded myself to think that I had enough experience teaching English to easily secure a job teaching English to newcomers in Canada.

And, even worse, I foolishly thought that I could keep most if not all of my students by dropping my lessons 500 yen and migrating them to Skype. Unfortunately, when I announced that I was converting to Skype, most of them dropped me like a stone and I ended up with only 6 of them.

When I got to Canada, I found out that unless I had a TESL Ontario or a minimum of a TESL Canada, I was not going to be hired anywhere. It was almost like the TESL Ontario mafia wouldn't let you work unless you paid your dues.

I went to school and got my TESL Ontario and got straight A's due to my experience teaching in Japan. Unfortunately, I spent most of my time looking for a job after that. I then started a business that was totally unrelated to teaching English. The business didn't really make any money, but the enormous amount of money going in and out allowed me to stop from going bankrupt. I found life to be much harder in Canada than when I left in 2002. Insurance, Hydro electric rates, food costs, housing......especially internet costs.......literally everything had increased in price to outrageous levels but wages remained static. I got hit by reverse culture shock. I struggled for a few years, and then my wife who is Thai decided that Canada wasn't happening and she moved home. I basically sold up everything and moved to Thailand. I fantasize about going back to Japan, because the pay for teaching English here sucks badly and the students are totally inept and lack motivation. However, things sound much worse in Japan than when I was there. I'm no longer under stress like I was in Canada, but it sounds like things would be that way if I tried to re-establish myself in Japan.

My personal feeling is that you should really check that where you are going is actually better than your current situation. Unfortunately, this English teaching thing seems to me to have run its course for being even a decently paid job.
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