Japan Job site for foreigners
A. Sick Leave (9 points)
B. Short Contract/ Leavers (3 points)
C. Future Changes (2 points)
D. Misc./ Other (4 points)
Please note that this document is meant to serve as a summary of the meeting between Mr. Matsuura, Mr. McCarthy, and Ms. Tomcal with the express purpose of informing the Kobe ALT cohort regarding concerns presented by the community to the ALT leader. Sharing of this file outside of the intended audience is discouraged and done at personal liability.
A. Sick Leave
1. explanation of circumstances/ decision
The decision to redistribute sick leave from paid leave to unpaid leave was made in order to join in a national effort to bring all civil servants regardless of full time/ part time/ other status under the same law. This law can be found in the 国家公務員の非常勤講師等の休暇 (kokka koumuin no hijoukinkoushi tou no kyuuka) on page 106. The access to this file is unknown for ALTs, but this is what was told to the folks at the BoE. Under this law, sick leave/byokyuu is categorized as unpaid leave/mukyuu. While CLAIR was able to ensure that our salaries as JETs will not change/be reduced, things like vacation leave/nenkyuu, sick leave/byokyuu, rental assistance, etc. are changing all over the country.
To understand why ALTs will also be subject to this rule from April, even though our contracts are supposed to be from summer to summer, it was discovered that from this year (2019-2020), the government (?) decided that ALTs, whose term of employment is from summer to summer, need to be treated as Japanese fiscal year/ April to April employees. If I understand correctly, due to this change of categorization, the government/BoE is allowed to change the aforementioned paid/unpaid leave days. So, ALTs will fall in with every other civil servant/koumuin and no longer be able to use sick leave/ byokyuu as paid leave/yuukyuu starting April 2020.
This brings up the question of why ALTs were not made aware that the way we would be categorized (from summer~summer to April~April) would be
changed, essentially changing the way we would be treated mid-contract. While the cessation of our paid sick leave is a shock, it is this prior change that allows it to be enacted. In terms of a violation of contract, this re-categorization may be at the heart of the matter. Please contact Tiffany regarding any thoughts/ concerns about this new information.
2. When will ALTs receive this explanation (officially) in writing?
The BoE is now working on sending out an email with the English translation of the Japanese explanation.
3. Why elimination instead of reduction?
Because the Kobe city legal department and elected officials decided to match every civil servant/koumuin under the federal law, on a city-wide scale, and the federal law says sick leave/byokyuu is unpaid leave/mukyuu.
4. What will byokyu be called now?
Sick leave/ byokyuu is still called "byokyuu" however, its status will change from paid leave/ yuukyuu to unpaid leave/ mukyuu
5. How will the procedure for taking sick leave change?
At this time there is no planned change to how sick leave/ byokyuu will be taken. If a large amount of days are taken at once you may be suggested by your school/ the guidance division to take paid vacation leave/nenkyuu instead of your unpaid sick leave/ byokyuu. Should you choose to take the unpaid sick leave/ byokyuu, a payment plan will be decided and the amount "owed" will be deducted from future paycheck(s). For those that are still uncertain, the BoE will be sending out some information to make it clearer.
6. When will this take effect for ALTs?
ALTs, and every other civil servant/koumuin, will no longer be able to use sick leave/ byokyuu as paid leave/yuukyuu starting April 1, 2020 (Unfortunately this is no April Fool's joke). And, in accordance with this change, the proof of employment/ ishokujo (the certificate with your name, the BoE's stamp, remuneration, and dates of employment) will be reissued from April as well.
7. What about pregnancy? Freak car accidents? Developing a disease that requires constant routine checks?
For large medical bills there is always the JET insurance remuneration process.
However, to my understanding, this doesn't change that either paid vacation leave/ nenkyuu, or unpaid sick leave/byokyuu, will have to be used for the days not attended at work.
8. What is the chain of command on this? Who can we write to directly about this matter?
The people who made the final decision on this matter were the Kobe legal department and Kobe's elected officials. However, Mr. Matsuura and others will have a meeting about this matter sometime between December 16~20 so if you'd like to have your opinion expressed by him, please write a brief letter with your thoughts/ concerns and have them to Daniel/Priyanka no later than 5pm December 15th. It will be good for the committee to see a physical representation of our voices.
9. The people's voices
- This decision shows a lack of respect for employees as human beings.
- This decision penalizes those who care for their health & their community by making doing the right thing (staying home when one is sick) a personal financial hit.
- This decision penalizes those who may get sick more often by making them choose between a financial hit (taking unpaid sick leave) or less vacation time (taking paid vacation days instead).
- For ALTs, this decision goes beyond basic job conditions and into cultural differences. Are you prepared for many ALTs to take their remaining sick leave days all at once in the coming months? (P.S. The answer was no, and the BoE did not even consider this point because it's so different from Japanese workforce common sense.)
- Besides cultural differences, this goes into the cultural conditioning side of things as well; especially for American ALTs, vacation days are not taken in lieu of sick days. And if sick days are unpaid they will go to work, even under dire situations. Not only does this make everyone sicker overall/transfers disease much more easily, this will inevitably lead to ALTs burning out faster & not staying as long.
- The city/government wants us to stay, to be loyal, to work hard, but then also wants to take away all the things that make this job special and competitive compared to our home-country options. With this decision, the JET program is becoming more like any other job and both the numbers of those choosing to stay & those making the choice to go in the first place will decrease.
B. Short Contract
1. What does summer leave and nenkyu look like for the extension members?
An official/final decision hasn't been made, but if the formula for the regular contract is followed, short term contractees will receive 5 days of summer leave, and 2-3 days of paid vacation leave (depending on their initial start date).
2. What does the end of contract look like re: last day, new ALT procedures, etc.?
There will be some overlap between the new ALTs and leaving ALTs. Because of this, and the perceived difficulty of getting permission for working ALTs to receive shuccho, short contract ALTs will be expected to help with Neighborhood Days. However, the last official day of work is forecasted to be September 25th, with the remaining days as special leave in order for leavers to take care of personal things regarding their return home/their next destination.
3. Leavers & Residency Taxes
All leavers be forewarned that your monthly paycheck will change in the last few months to account for the residency tax you must pay before leaving the country. This is forecasted to be about 2man less than usual, but will depend on other factors and for which the details will be given in the upcoming leavers meetings.
C. Future Changes
1. How does the summer event schedule look?
Job Training will be cancelled/postponed due to there being no first years to train, however this does not necessarily mean that there will be no work event for the 2-5th years during the regular job training time (which is usually the Obon period). Summer school will proceed as planned from August 18-21, with the 18th being the prep day. Neighborhood Days will be moved to September, when the new ALTs arrive and be primarily carried out by leaving ALTs.
2. With the new curriculum requirements & increase in ALTs, what changes to the ALT division of labor will there be?
It is expected that the number of schools one has will change (for example, if you have 1 JHS and 3 ES, you might change to having 1 JHS and only 1 or 2 ES), but whether there will be more full time JHS or full time ES positions remains to be decided. The BoE is currently deliberating what would the best for Kobe city overall, so if you have ideas or suggestions now is the time to send them in (to your leaders or the CIRs).
D. Misc./ Other
1. Re-contracting information, deadlines, etc. a bit unclear
Thanks for the feedback, they'll try to make it more concise next year.
2. Emailed essay instructions but have to mail in physical copy
Even if y'all emailed the essay to the CIRs, they'd still have to print them out so it doesn't save paper in the long run.
3. Feedback forms/access
We are currently deliberating a better way to provide access to your school's feedback forms, in addition to providing more regular opportunities for feedback from ALTs as well. If you have ideas/ suggestions please message Tiffany.
4. Info about interviews
- Please be honest about whether you want to change schools
- It's ok to bring up ideas or suggestions you have for Kobe city/ ALT work- life/ etc. at this time
- It is alright for you to bring a list/notecard with things you want to make sure to tell the interviewers/ Mr. Matsuura/ Daniel or Priyanka in with you to the interview
- If you have anything you'd like your leaders to bring up on your/the community's behalf, please let them know beforehand
For any of the above points, please let Tiffany know if you have any further questions, concerns, ideas, or suggestions.
Join the KobeJET website team!
Interested in becoming a contributor to our lessons one of our other resources? Helping with content moderation or translation? These are great opportunities to practice your editing or translation skills, and add professional, visible real-world experience to your resume.
Interested in marketing? We also need help expanding upon and building new English language and living in Japan partnerships, including backlinks and the option for building an ads component to help fund the site.
Are you a pro at social media engagement? Help us build KobeJET's social network presence on Facebook, Twitter, and others - getting the word out about our extensive collection of lessons and resources for the greater Japan ALT community and beyond!
If you're a current JET and would like to become involved with the site administration, responsibilities can be broken into a few categories.
- Content Contributor
- Add new lessons, songs and lyrics, recommended locations and more
- Translate lessons, etc. to Japanese to help these resources reach non-native English speakers
- General administration
- Approve or remove new account requests
- Let new JETs know about the site and how to set up an account/become involved
- Update current JET/school lists as necessary
- Content moderation
- Manage (create/remove) announcements on the homepage with relevant news
- Promote new lesson submissions among JETs and teachers
- Encourage translation of lesson submissions to Japanese to help native Japanese teachers better access and use the resources.
- Longterm sustainability
- Promote and manage the site and its resources on social media - Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Discuss what is needed to remove KobeJET from the blocked sites list for KIIFs and school internet - https://www.kobejet.com/announcement/open-letter-kec-and-school-education-division
- Assess ongoing tickets and work with site administrator (David Dowell) to get them resolved
Send us an email and get involved!
There are many options to exchange money in and out of Japan. Better rates can usually be found upon arriving in a destination country when traveling. Airport rates can also usually be worse than exchanges one your pass through immigration, but this can depend upon the country and situation.
Feel free to include your personal experience with any countries you've travelled in!
A popular news source in Japan provided in English
Expedia Japan -
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Let me introduce the Triage Triangle. This is a helpful tool in helping you decide who to ask for help. Don't be afraid to ever seek support, but it's important to be mindful of the people you are asking!
How to sell JET to your next employer
- Who are you? Please say your name and one word describing what you did before you started the JET program.
- Who are we and why should you listen to us?
Before JET we worked for several years as lawyers for the Australian government.
But we’ve had many other jobs as well. Between us we’ve had a ton of interviews and chopped and changed our resumes dozens of times.
We’re definitely not experts but together with our research and experience we’ve got a fair idea about what most employers want.
- What do you want? Survey audience for post-JET career aspirations. For example:
- Remain in Japan.
- Return home.
- Continue teaching
- Different job
- Further study.
Part 1: The Myths
- Best case scenario is that you find an employer who values your Japanese language skills or teaching experience in Japan.
- The more likely scenario is that it’s an interesting personal history that might add another dimension to you but provides no relevant skills or experience.
- Worst case scenario is that you’ve had several years away from your country’s domestic job market doing something completely irrelevant to your career.
What is JET from an employer’s perspective:
There are common misconceptions about JET (and teaching overseas), including:
- Teachers are lazy and don’t work as hard compared to other professions.
- Teaching English is easy - Show movies while reading the newspaper in the back of the classroom, and sing songs about bunnies to an adoring crowd of small children.
- Living and working in Japan is a holiday - The worst case scenario is the perception that you have been in Japan on a holiday for 1-5 years.
- Your experience and skills are not relevant to the position
The hurdle is to show the employer that these misconceptions of JET are wrong.
Part 2: Setting the record straight
Assume your employer knows nothing about Japan, or the JET program.
What is JET
It’s a highly competitive international teaching exchange programme run by the Japanese Government. JET participants are employed as public officials and have to abide by a high standard of ethical polices and a code of conduct.
When preparing job applications, we’ve identified four key skill areas:
- Organisation and diligence.
- Communication and presentation skills.
- Teamwork and initiative.
- Adaptability and resilience.
Organisation and diligence.
The myth is that teachers are lazy and don’t work as hard as other professions.
You need to emphasise:
- JETs are required to work full time: a minimum 35 hours per week and the reality is JETS work longer hours (eg. No lunch breaks, extra-curricular activities). This includes working school holidays which is different to most other countries.
- Set out the specific job requirements of your school. For example, the teaching workload required preparation and presentation of lessons for 400+ students in JHS and ES and conducting classes independently.
- Formulating lessons that meet curriculum targets and adhere to specific curriculum requirements, including teaching grammar such as: prepositions, comparative and superlative, adverbs, conjunctions, imperatives.
Communication and presenting skills
The myth is that teaching English in Japan is easy.
You need to emphasise:
- You are working in a non-English speaking workplace with usually no other native English speaker and only 2-3 other teachers speak English. Difficulties communicating with colleagues and other cultural barriers.
- Japan is very different from western culture so cross-cultural communication skills are essential.
- Example: Cultural features, such as the custom of being indirect in communication and “saving face”. Using emotional intelligence to “translate” comments from colleagues.
- Facilitating a meeting between foreign teachers and Japanese teachers using the Japanese style of turn-presenting so all participants were able to feel comfortable voicing their opinion.
- Presenting to a range of audiences from ES, JHS, HS, teaching staff and international teachers. With the teaching workload, classes would run for between 4 and 6 hours per day.
- You utilisied communication technology, eg. Powerpoint, social media, email, excel, intranet.
- Example: reinforcing teaching with visual aids, using technology to prepare teaching materials.
Teamwork and initiative
The myth is that teaching English in Japan is easy.
- Being an active member of several productive and successful teams including;
- Taking initiative and using common sense to know when and how to approach your supervisor, with the added complexity that the all communication was primarily in Japanese
- Example Not every document and every meeting can be translated for you. Being able to identify what the key risks and pieces of information that you may require and actively seeking clarification of that information, such as changes in schedule, policy changes,
Adaptability and resilience
The myth is that living and working in Japan is a holiday.
You need to emphasise:
- You went to a new country, living in a new suburb and working at a new job. Almost all aspects of day to day are adapting to new challenges. This ranges from workplace practices to simply trying to pay the electricity bill at the combini. Challenges will always involve potential problems.
- Example: A powerpoint presentation with technical difficulties. However, effective preparation will allow you to present and adapt anyway. Using available aids, such as whiteboard.
- Outside of teaching, the majority of spare time is spent learning the language. Any qualifications have you achieved demonstrate your self-directed learning.
According to the Foreign Service Institute, Japanese is the most difficult language for a native English speaker to learn. This ranking takes into account not only the language itself but also the cultural aspect that comes with learning any language, so it is perhaps no surprise the most difficult language would come from a culture that is also notoriously difficult for Westerners to adjust to. Grammatically speaking, Japanese couldn’t be more different from English.
- Mistakes and miscommunication is inevitable is any job but more so in a non-English speaking workplace. Learning how to deal with issues arising without blame and also trying to prevent future issues (if possible).
- Example: you’re supposed to give a joint presentation with a colleague and they call in sick. How did you deal with that situation?
THE LAST MYTH: Your skills and experience is not relevant to the position
The last step is demonstrating how these skills are relevant to the position that you are applying to. This is where you’ll need to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and role you are applying to and show that although you have been out of the country, you have kept up to date with the industry.
Part 3: Group Discussion
Group discussion – we have prepared 6 difficult questions that employers may ask you and your challenge is to explain how the JET program makes them the ideal candidate for the interview
- Why did you leave your job to go on JET?
- I know someone who did jet and they spent most of their day twiddling their thumbs, the rest of the time they were a tape recorder. How is that useful experience?
- The candidate before you spent two years working in this country in this job area. Why should you be preferred?
- This job does not involve Japanese people, language, or culture. How is your experience relevant to our company?
- This job does not involve children or teaching. How is your experience relevant to our company?
- Japanese people work and study so hard. I bet you hardly had to teach them. What was so difficult about your job?
Opportunities to upskill
- Developing web content for your school home page
- Giving presentations supported with technology, powerpoint etc
- Being a PR ambassador
- Being a ward leader – ie managing a team
- Don’t sit around waiting for things to come to you. Take the initiative to ask for more opportunities and experience that you want.
This is a link to a Handout from the 2016 After Jet Conference which provides more generalised categories for the various skills that you may have gained on JET for your resume.
There are other resources from the 2015 and 2016 conferences on this page: http://jetprogramme.org/en/after-con/
- To generalise your experience for other professions besides teaching, where possible switch teacher for colleague, change focus from teaching to presenting, school to workplace, students to audience.
- Be authentic.
[Rab*bit] n. 1st year JET. seen everywhere; bright eyed, high spirited.
[Ta*nu*ki] n. 2nd year JET. cunning, wary of youth; beware their new sempai status.
[Pan*da] n. 3rd year JET. comfortable, astute; play their cards close to their chest.
[Owl] n. 4th year JET. wise, watchful, reflective; can be a great ally.
[U*ni*corn] n. 5th year JET. proud, rarely seen, an enigma; magic rainbows.
Related: Can order shirts through Zazzle at this link here.
When it comes to sending belongings home, the last thing you want is to lug countless heavy items to the post office, only to find out that weight and size exceeds the limits, or that the final price exceeds your budget. And perhaps the next to last thing you want is to be surprised at how detailed the customs form is and have to reopen packages to remember what the contents are.
Hopefully the attached items will help you know what to expect.
Kobe Leaving JET Guidebook, “Heading Home” page 22
Methods of shipment from least to most expensive, slowest to fastest:
- Economy Air (SAL)
EMS is one option for shipment, but Japan Post tends to be even cheaper.
Books may be sent separately at lower prices, but the package must be entirely printed matter and nothing else. For those living in Hanayama, apparently the JP office adjacent to the Coop Mini offers the printed matter service. For those living in Tamondai, I'm sorry, I don't know where the closest JP office is.
When preparing to send mail, you might find the below Japan Post guide helpful. Don’t forget to have a scale and a meter stick handy!
**For those staying in Japan, scroll down. :)
- Kobe Leaving JET Guidebook, “Money Matters” page 10
- JET Programme General Information Handbook (GIH), Pension Refund Section
Pension refund comes in two parts:
1. Tax Refund (to Japanese bank account)
- Decide on a tax representative. They should be reliable, trustworthy, and proficient in Japanese.
- Fill out “Tax Representative Declaration Form for Foreigners” (納税管理人の届出書、外国人用)
- Submit at your local tax office.
2. Lump Sum Withdrawal Payment (to home country bank account)
- Fill out “Claim Form for the Lump Sum Withdrawal Payments” (脱退一時金裁定請求書)
- Make a photo copy of the pages in your passport showing:
- Your name, date of birth, nationality, signature
- Your work visa
- Date of departure from Japan
- Find a document such as a copy of your bank statement, bank passbook, etc. This is to verify the money you are receiving from Japan goes to the correct person filling the lump-sum withdrawal payment form.
- Send these 3 items and your pension book to the following address:
Japan Social Insurance Agency 3-5-24 Takaido Nishi, Suginami-ku, Tokyo, Japan 168-8508
3. Notice of Lump Sum Withdrawal Payment Entitlement (脱退一時金支給決定通知書)
- You receive this form when the lump sum payment is remitted to your home bank account.
- Make a photocopy for yourself.
- Send the original form to your tax representative.
4. Final Tax Return (確定申告書)
- Tax representative must use the previous form in order to fill out the tax return on your behalf, and submit to the same tax office as before. This form may be procured from the tax office.
- The remaining money will be transferred to your Japanese bank account, and your tax representative should then forward it to you.
Tax Office Locations:
The tax office that you register at must correspond with your ward of residence. If you live in Kita-ku, go to the Hyogo office. Remember, once you register with one office, you must always go back to that office. Sometimes these offices can be notorious for losing paperwork, so make copies of everything you submit beforehand!!
Staying in Japan?
*Leaving JETs who are staying in Japan do not need to go through this process. You cannot claim the refund and will remain on pension.
Unemployed residents must change pension plan to 国民年金 (kokumin nenkin). You will need to go to your local ward office to sort this out. Unfortunately, Guidance Division does not offer support at this point, but employees at the ward offices will be able to direct you accordingly.
Employed residents will likely change pension plan to 厚生年金 (kousei nenkin). Again, Guidance Division does not have any jurisdiction here, but your new employer will now be the ones supporting you through this process.