Though many municipalities plan to employ native English speakers or bilingual people to teach public primary schools' fifth- and sixth-grade students' English classes in April, a recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey showed that some cash-strapped municipalities are reluctant to do so for financial reasons.
However, some cash-strapped municipalities have no prospect of employing assistant language teachers. Yamagata Prefecture's Shinjo municipal government, which is required by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry to reconstruct its finances, has scheduled 15 or more English classes at its 10 primary schools, but has no plans to employ assistant language teachers.
"We had to put priority on measures to strengthen the earthquake-resistance of school buildings, which is more urgent," an official of the Shinjo municipal board of education said.
The Okushiricho town government in Hokkaido has not considered employing assistant teachers. It plans to hold 35 English classes in fiscal 2009, but the classes will be taught by Japanese teachers.
It's also bad for foreign students:
According to the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), the number of foreign students studying in Japan at universities, graduate schools and junior colleges has been on the rise in recent years. As of May 1 last year, a record 123,829 foreign students were studying in Japan, up 5,331 from the previous year. About 60 percent of the foreign students came from China, followed by students from South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, according to JASSO.
Many students from Asia hope to work in Japan. However, only 10,262 students were able to obtain working visas in 2007 after finding jobs. Many students ended up returning to their home countries after failing to find work.
The employment situation for foreign students has gone from bad to worse due to the economic downturn. According to the Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners--a job-placement office for foreign residents--there were 252 job listings targeting foreign students graduating in March available at the center as of Jan. 31, down 54 from the same period last year.
According to the organization, it is mainly small and medium-size companies that seek employees through the center. However, general manager Kazuo Hirasawa said companies across the spectrum are cutting the number of foreign students they hire.
And it's terrible if you happen to be a nikkei Brazilian worker. The Japanese government would like you to leave:
Japan is offering $3,000 for a plane ticket home to some foreigners who have lost their jobs, a sign of just how bad the economic slump has gotten.
The program, which began Wednesday, applies only to several hundred thousand South Americans of Japanese descent on special visas for factory work. The government's motivation appears to be three-fold: help the workers get home, ease pressure on the domestic labor market and potentially get thousands of people off the unemployment rolls.
"The program is to respond to a growing social problem," said Hiroshi Yamashita, an official at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, referring to joblessness, which has climbed to a three-year high of 4.4 percent.