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Tough Times

A propos my comment on now being a bad time to come to Japan, an example of how the economic meltdown affects English teachers:

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.


It would be sweet if they were buying plane tickets for ALTs who lose their jobs too!

After the old Nova went bust, the Aussie govt. was good enough to sort out a cheap link-up with QANTAS to ferry the on- the- streets instructors home for something like $400. I believe they had to travel amongst the cadavers and farm animals.

I hope you increasingly endangered ALT and JET guys can sort out a similar deal with your respective govts in these grim times. Good luck to all, and remember, if it comes down to living in a park and teaching for riceballs and cartons of sho-chu, it just isnt worth it. Even if it means you can't read manga and enjoy cos-play everyday in your native country.

Just go home!

Peace, Warwick

He's right. Living in Japan is fun and has a lot of upside, but remember why you went in the first place. To enjoy living in foreign country, decent pay, easy job/steady job to support your exploits. Not for the love of teaching English. If it’s dried up, it’s dried up. Move on. The Eikaiwa industry is not going improve anytime soon.

I don't know - I don't think it's all that bad.

I run a school which has got about 90 students of all ages and I love it to be honest. Despite the downturn we still seem to be doing alright. It is 70% kids based though (love 'em or hate 'em), so that keeps the YEN rolling in as supposed to relying just on adults.

Saying that I have friends who run their own adults based schools (both former Nova teachers) and as far as I'm aware they are also doing pretty well for themsleves.

I find it extra-ordinary, unless your intention is to advertise / sell franchises of course, that you would pop up like this, and tell everyone how well your business is doing.

“Saying that I have”........and then what? You didn’t finish the sentence. Perhaps you blundered on a cut and paste, but from what, I have no idea.


Nothing extraordinary about it at all. Thorn. Your own incessant posting with no obvious intention that I can see is what is extraordinary.

Can't you see that the poster simply missed out a comma: 'Saying that, ....'

I don’t recall ever having pointing out the foolhardy nature of telling the world how well your business is doing, especially in a saturated market, with too much competition in it to begin with.

Yet, you say I am repeating myself.

Sorry, but I am not.

I think the only time you would do such a thing (essentially brag about your own business), is if you were wanting to sell your specific business, attract investors, or if you are selling franchises.

It is referred to as “setting the bait”.

My comment is quite relevant, because it seems to me, there are quite a number of “eikaiwa franchise spruikers” (hereon referred to as EFS) out there at the moment, Smiths for example, who are trying to set a general yet unfounded theme out there in the Japanese language “market”, that having your own school is the pathway to El Dorado.

Like I said, why on earth, in these tough times, would you, if your were legitimately in business for yourself, run around saying you are doing fine, and invite the competition in, when there is too much competition in what can only be called a saturated market to begin with?

Looks like a pretty sloppy post from a rather worried EFS, if you ask me.


Perhaps then, you have not read the several comments on these boards coming over the last year or so from self employed and small business owners that are similar in nature, and not usually motivated by any desire to sell off their business asset.

Generally, the smaller operators are not suffering badly at this point in time compared to the larger ones with the high overheads. Some are actually doing better. That is a perfectly reasonable and relevant thing to point out.

I don't know anyone in small business, who runs around telling people how well they are doing. They usually say the opposite, especially of the opposition is formidable, and they are doing well.

And the post we are talking about - a guy essentially posting about how he is doing so well, in all the doom and gloom.

I stand by what I said - I think there is a fair bit of rather subtle franchise spruiking going on in here.


Absolute nonsence, Thorn. Time will certainly tell that this is not the case. As I said, you simply haven't read these boards enough to know that a lot of people in the same category are saying similar things.

I agree with you about Smith's of course. These franchises don't work for the buyer because:

a) They are often in areas with poor expansion potential
b) The price charged at the outset is unreasonably high based on existing profit
c) The dues charged eat into any money the operator might otherwise be making.

The result of this is that the franchisee usually ends up working for wages if they are lucky. More oten, they can end up losing money big time.

Nah, I don’t think so. I think there has been quite a deal of franchise spruiking going on in here, and in other places, often and on recently, and I think that is a mighty fine and relevant thing to point out.

Also, and sorry for repeating myself again, I really don’t see the commercial sense in advertising how well your private business is doing, in a market that is famously over-saturated as it is.

Sorry, but I firmly stand by my original comments and assessment.


Business promotion of various kinds has gone on in these boards, and been completely obvious in character, usually involving email addresses, websites etc. Such promotion would not be likely to attract interest any other way. Suggesting that a franchise seller would use such an obscurantist approach to rasing interest in their particular product as opposed to anyone else's is a little paranoid.

The poster's comments were entirely anonymous, giving no concrete information about the whereabouts of his or her business and therefore this post poses no threat whatsoever. Unless, of course, you are suggesting that somebody with 90 odd students somewhere in Japan should be so paranoid about their livelihood as to believe that thousands of people will flood the market with businesses like theirs because of a post like this. Sorry, no logic there, I'm afraid.

Like I said, very subtle spruiking, and I think that has been happening quite a bit in here lately, and on other sites.

Oh, well, then again, may be I am being a little paranoid, having witness the stomach-churning way Nova used to go about flogging itself on line, so, I am pretty sure I am correct.

I stand by my original statement and assessment.


Oh Christ! Thorn you are one to talk about what has been happening here quite a bit lately. All the unnecessary and repetitive posts that you have put up here the waste space and time. That in the end have been removed by the moderator finally. Move on somewhere else so people can have real discussions that vary ideas.

To me, the post you're referring to sounds more like an eikaiwa owner who's worried about their business at the minute, but is relieved that it's still afloat. They're posting on here to give themselves a bit of "comfort" if you like.

They're only going to "set the bait" by naming themselves, which they haven't done yet, although who knows, maybe that was/is the next move.

The Ripper

that some people DO NOT have a business brain or
a business if their thinking is that self employed shouldn't be saying
blah,blah blah because of inviting competition
or the market is oversaturated.You can get in
where you fit in.
In Japan,quality is the key.Not from the big chain
schools,they operate from having a name only,but
the little husband and wife,or small schools can
survive and thrive,if the quality is good enough.
Only the ones with the negative and defeatist
attitudes who are spamming the same retort every
day on here can't see any upside.
Hence being negative is all they have to offer,along
with standing by previous comments. That is really
sticking your neck out when everyone is anonymous.
Wow! How brave. You joker.

These franchises don't work for the buyer because:

a) They are often in areas with poor expansion potential
b) The price charged at the outset is unreasonably high based on existing profit
c) The dues charged eat into any money the operator might otherwise be making.

The result of this is that the franchisee usually ends up working for wages if they are lucky. More oten, they can end up losing money big time.

Nonsense. I am the owner/manager of a Smith's Eikaiwa, and I am doing very well thank-you very much. I am sick of all the people out there who want to knock the entrepreneurial spirit. My business is profitable, even in this depression we are in : I am expanding soon and hiring 3 more full-time instructors.

Get your facts right before you start attacking Smith's and the hard-working professionals in this industry.

Seems I made a mistake in my previous comment, I should have said "not so sublte spruiking"

Go Smiths Go !


Your assessment could quite possibly be accurate Mr. Ripper, but the reason I said “subtle spruiking”, is because it is of benefit to the franchise spruikers to cultivate, in times of economic uncertainty and stress, the general theme that working for oneself is the most viable option.

When one makes that choice, or is convinced that is the choice to take, they will naturally look at all options, so no need to state names really at this point, in this underhanded card game.

Those without business savvy, teachers for example, would stumble into and fall victim to people like Smiths anyway.

The most important thing is, making it appear that having your own school is the pathway to success and financial stability – the likes of Smith then come in later, and try to scoop up the prospective fish, swimming by their net, by offering the impression they can fast track the process and remove risk.

Call it a kind of subliminal advertising, if you like.

Don’t you recall the lengths Nova used to go to, to bombard discussion boards with upbeat crap about Nova?

So, while I respect your comments, I stand by my original comment and conclusions.


There are a few franchises out there that do work out, despite the buy-in price and dues, and yours is obviouisly one of them. However, your own personal example is not sufficient to refute these charges. To do that, you would need to supply statistical data on the success rate of all franchises.

Personally, I don't think that buying a franchise like Smiths is particularly entrepeneurial compared to starting up one's own business from scratch. So, I am not knocking the entrepenerial sprit in attacking Smith's. On the contrary, I am encouraging it.

Looky here Smith is posting about himself.

No, I'm not Mr. Smith, I'm just an Eikaiwa Professional who is sick and tired of all the negative lies people spread about Eikaiwa schools on these blogs.
Let's be more positive, people, about our career, and work together towards providing the most professional education available to our students.

The negative lies that people spread about eikaiwa? Well let me give you some "positive truths" about it.

1. Eikaiwa isn't about education or teaching. Basically, a native speaker is thrown in there with little to no clue about teaching, and presented and packaged as a "teacher". That is not education.

2. Many eikaiwa "students" aren't there to study, they're there either to have a laugh, talk some English, hang out with gaijin, relieve their loneliness, and a whole host of other reasons. Few are there to really study and learn English.

3. Eikaiwa and dispatch companies generally have one aim only, that is, to make money. Customer care, care for the staff and instructors, the quality of the product, come way down the list (if they're indeed even on it), and will be sacrificed in an instant in order to protect the the senior management.

I'd advise you to post up some links to your eikaiwa institution so that all can see whether you really are operating a positive educational institution.

The Ripper

I think I can see your (very subtle) point Mr Vagina. Someone trying to sell eikaiwa franchises could indeed use message boards like this to promote the idea that going it alone is a good option in the current climate. I'd think that anyone doing that would have a lot of franchises to sell, or is very desperate to sell.

As you said, not a great idea at the minute. Adult classes are well down from what I've seen, as are business classes. I know of a few smaller schools who are looking for buyers at the minute, even cutting teachers' wages to look more profitable.

The guy you referred to as being a franchise spruiker did seem overly positive. The "students love it/I love it" line was suspicious, I'll give you that.

Mr Ripper

I don't think it's any surprise about "all the negative lies people spread about Eikaiwa schools on these blogs".

When you look at the generally greedy, selfish behaviour of eikaiwa owners and dispatch, the way they don't give a monkeys about the welfare or conditions of their staff, tricking students into thinking that they're being "taught" English by a "professional teacher", etc. You've only got to take a look around to see these things going on.

I could post up here specific details of what I'm talking about. A certain school I work for at the moment is behaving in the exact manner I'm describing, and there are two other outfits I've worked for who've done similarly disgusting things as well.

Perhaps if eikaiwa cleaned up its act, you wouldn't have to worry so much about "negative lies" would you?

The Ripper

Keep up the undercover work Ripper. It wouldn't be in the interests of the majority for you to make your escape too soon. You saw through the bars, and I'll squeeze through to the outside. Don't worry! the story of your heroism will be heard one day.

I've been undercover for years Anon. About to make my findings known to the relevant agencies, and will soon be moving on to a plum job with an international organization as a result. I may write a book too, something along the lines of "Escape from Japan: One man takes on the Eikaiwa establishment".

The Ripper

Some in here beleive your book has two authors, those authors being Messers Ripper and Vagina.

However, getting back to more relevant subjects:

Surely Eikaiwa Pro is a fake, just throwing out a bit of bait. The reason I say this, Mr. Ripper, is because, with all the water that has gone under the bridge, and the astonishing truths that are now very much "out there", surely it is not possible that an Eikaiwa Pro actually exists (unless of course, the vermon industry is now employing severely retarded people).

Please consider. It is a distinct possibility, some troll droppings may have been witnessed, I say with all due respect.

Meantime, with regards to this forum and others being used as a place to spruik eikaiwa franschises, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly, let me say, I stand by my original comments and assessment.


Well I think he's being honest when he says he works for Smith's, and he's obviously pissed off about people giving "professionals" like him a bad name.

I do agree that people may well be using these forums to stoke up interest in buying schools and franchises. It's suspicious when "Junken master" (post above) says that not only their school, but other schools offering adult classes are "doing well", students are "loving it", etc.

As I said, adult classes have gone way way down, lots of business and ALT dispatch companies are springing up and vying for contracts by undercutting each other, ie. reducing "instructors'" wages, and I know of two "language schools" who are trying to sell up right now.

So there may well be more to this than meets the eye.

The Ripper

Anyway, enough about the foreign female teaching staff....

"and I know of two "language schools" who are trying to sell up right now"

Care to enlighten us with their names? Ta!

I am enjoying your posts about Eikaiwa Mr. Ripper, but I must say, I really am starting to wonder if you have it in you to take it up to the next level. Well, do you? Frankly, l want son-of-a-bitch Eikaiwa dead! Don’t ask me what I am trying to do. What am l, alone in this world? Did l ask you what you're tryin' to do? l want you to get this eikaiwa fuck where it breathes!l want EIKAIWA dead! l want it’s family dead, it’s house burnt to the ground!l WANT TO PISS ON IT'S ASHES!

Hmmm, I am glad I got that off my chest. Now, where were we?


If you want to know the names of the 2 "language schools" I know that are trying to sell up, or any other "confidential" information, mail me privately at

and we can maybe set up a meet/drop somewhere. If you're in the Tokyo area it shouldn't be too difficult.

The Ripper

I know your feeling Mr Vagina. Even the best of us go through bouts of bloodlust when the world's conspiring against you. Specifically though, the people I want ripped are eikaiwa owners who

a) bluff their students into believing that eikaiwa is more than it actually is - ie. a native English speaker, in a suit, talking to Japanese people; and/or

b) treat their staff as "dispensable items" - cutting wages, not renewing contracts, etc etc.

I'm not particularly bothered about the idea of eikaiwa, as long as its presented for what it really is, and bosses treat their staff right.

That's the bottom line.

The Ripper

nothing but a twat, aren't you Thorn

I see Thorn's pissed everyone off, and now you're thinking that I'm him posting under another name.

I think time will show that that's not the case.

The Ripper.

It's a bit sad to see so many complaining about "teaching" English in Japan. For the most part, it's trivial at best. It really boils down to whether or not the students want to learn English, regardless of their age. Teaching English in Japan has become so far removed from the rest of the subjects taught in school. It's amazing to see so many "teachers" exchanging remarks in this online pissing contest. Take it for what it really is: teaching English in Japan is without a doubt the easiest job ever. It really doesn't matter if the students are progressing, just as long as it's fun for them. That has become reality.

Take this article written in The New York Times. Look at all these immigrant workers from Brazil getting shafted harder than the Nova teachers that lost out. Not only are they not allowed to return to Japan, their kids can't even come back. That's terrible. Imagine being in that situation.

Jiro Kawasaki, a former health minister and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said, “We should stop letting unskilled laborers into Japan. We should make sure that even the three-K jobs are paid well, and that they are filled by Japanese,” he said. “I do not think that Japan should ever become a multiethnic society.”

Clearly there is a strong desire to remove more gaijin from Japan, and this was is a prime time to do it. Get ready for more policy changes that will affect your life in Japan. The LDP doesn't care about gaijin and wants you to leave.

I agree with you that the actual process of "teaching" English in Japan is by and large trivial, in fact, non-existent, and that "entertainment" is more the watchword.

But what isn't trivial is the attitude of eikaiwa employers towards their staff, as I've outlined above. That is a serious issue that shouldn't be taken lightly. Fair enough, Brazilian workers might be getting shafted harder, but that doesn't mean that conditions in the eikaiwa "industry" are acceptable in comparison and should be simply brushed over.

Eikaiwa is generally a business of exploitation. You only have to look at the story of the collapse of Nova to see that.

The Ripper

If Eikaiwa is to flourish at all, these issues of exploitation do indeed need to be addressed. However, it's a matter of perspective and frankly, when the turn over rate was so high for Eikaiwa instructors, it's easy to see why little has changed. Teachers that have stayed longer than five years that want change are often branded as jaded. Ripper, your points are valid. It's just a shame that teaching has turned into an entertainment industry. That has to change with the conditions of the work environment.

Well said Mr. Ripper, well said, but apparently, it is worse for Brazilian factory workers (that’s where one poster wants to topic diverted to).

Thank God English Instructions have a government sanctioned specified use that is at least a few more rungs up the ladder than those Brazilian factory monkies, is all I can say.

Nova Corp’s watchwords used to be “Intercultural Communication and Telecommunication”, but they went bankrupt. So much for those watchwords.

Eikaiwa is easy, if you don't like using your brain, at all, or are some what retarded.


Jiro Kawasaki, a former health minister and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said, “We should stop letting unskilled laborers into Japan. We should make sure that even the three-K jobs are paid well, and that they are filled by Japanese,” he said. “I do not think that Japan should ever become a multiethnic society.”

This Jiro Kawasaki fellow (sounds like a crappy motorbike, eh) is nothing but a racist Japanese Nazi. I mean, he would have been the first in line, 60 years ago, goose-stepping and sieg-heiling along with the Germans.

Im running a successful Eikaiwa school franchise, employing 2 gaijins and 2 Japanese p/t, and if this LDP mob reckon they are going to make changes and use the economic depression as an excuse to "cleanse Japan of gaijin", they are gonna have the fight of their lives getting rid of me and my mates.

I'm a gaijin and I'm here to stay, like it or not Kawasaki!

Getting back to the Neo-Nova origins of this little thread! If you are still there after this long then you are sad sad sad indeed. Even the moronic Japanese staff who stayed on because some sense of loyalty (yeah right! Because they were bullied in to it), have all now moved on.

Go home!
Go home!
Go home!


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