kanagawapft.org   kanagawapft.org           
why we do this

 map of japan by prefecture
We are former high school PFTs and concerned citizens from
around Kanagawa prefecture
who have banded together to fight for the
teachers and students in our public schools. While the BoEs are trying
to escape their responsibility of providing a high quality English education,
we are making our plans to keep these undesirable new ideas about using
outsourcing companies out, and return control to the schools.

私たちは、神奈 川県下の県立学校の生徒達に、適切な教育を与えるべく立ち上がった、神奈川PFTのメンバーです。そし て又、心配をしている市民です。県教 委が、生徒 に、安全且つ適切な教育を与える責務を投げ出そうとしている一方で、私たちは、外部委託という、この望ましくない新システムを撤廃し、学校に教師管理の権 限を取り戻そうとしています。
PFTs Return
    After just over two years of battling in prefectural Labour Court, the Kanagawa PFTs have returned to public high schools in Kanagawa as direct hires. Their formal titles are hijoukin koushi which means they are hired as school employees, as they had previously been, not as dispatched workers as the Kanagawa Board of Education had continuously pushed for.

   Nine teachers who chose to stay and fight by forming a union chapter with the National Union of General Workers and filing a formal labour complaint, from the eighty nine teachers that were originally displaced by the outsourcing, got the concession from the Prefectural Board of Education in a collective bargaining session which was suddenly requested by the BoE in the eleventh hour, just before the Kanagawa Labour Committee panel was set to deliver its ruling the following week.
    For the union members exclusively, it means the return as direct hires to the schools. The outsourcing company, Interac has been selected to continue to serve as the dispatching agent for the prefectural high schools for the third consecutive year everywhere in Kanagawa that the PFT union members are not filling direct hire positions. Since those positions had been outsourced in April 2006, all of the positions in Kanagawa which had previously been held by PFTs, have been filled by Interac ALTs. With this new development, a parallel system which had been proposed at the earliest stages of the collective bargaining by the PFTs, has been instituted in that, both direct hires and dispatched teachers will fill positions within the prefecture.
    Additionally, the former PFTs received a verbal apology/excuse in both Japanese and English from the Kanagawa Prefectural Education's High School Chief's office in the Labour Commission's chambers in Kannai. Also noteworthy, are the full one-year contracts and the 20% higher pay scale per class that the returned PFTs will have along with benefits which will differ from those of the dispatched teachers from Interac.
    Much to the dissatisfaction of the PFTs, the union was not able to negotiate the return of the PFTs' seniority due to the two-year lapse in employment. With the loss of that seniority, teachers' (some of which had been employed continuously for as many as fifteen years) paid leave entitlements will be significantly less as they return to the status of new hires for paid leave purposes.
    Collective bargaining for improved working conditions has been continuing through this spring and negotiations for guarantees for renewals and extensions of contracts also continue.
    The PFTs continue to fight for improvements of the education provided to the students in Kanagawa and for workers' fair labor conditions.
Time Line of Events

Jan 2006

It all begins here on January 16 when the PFTs are given notices by their principals telling them that their contracts will not be renewed for the next term.

Feb 2006

PFTs start to organize themselves and begin contacting all public high schools in Kanagawa to inform foreign teachers that they can make a stand and fight the outsourcing. While in collective bargaining, KBoE sends off letter to hurry through interviews with outsourcing company.


PFTs' contracts expire. Formal claim is made in Kanagawa Labor Court against the KBoE for violation of PFTs' labor rights.

Apr 2006

Collective bargaining and LC sessions continue. Dispatched workers enter the schools as teachers.

June 2006

Petitions are produced and thousands of signatures are collected to be submitted to the prefectural assembly. Congressmen are lobbied for their support.

July 2006

Data on problems arising at public high schools is collected and processed for sharing with PTAs.


Letters are sent out by PFTs to all public junior and senior high school PTAs in the prefecture detailing situation at their kids' schools.

Mar 2008

The BoE agrees in an emergency collective bargaining session mediated by the Labor panel, to return the union PFTs to public schools as direct hires.
In BoE interviews, the PFTs are asked to accept a voluntarily gag on release of information of the whole 2-year ordeal.

Apr 2008

PFTs return to public high schools in Kanagawa contracted through the KBoE to
work exclusively as hijoukin koushi after rejecting the BoE's voluntary gag on release of information.

 Roastin' me some BoE flesh!
What does PFT stand for?

PFT stands for part-time
foreign teacher. PFTs are directly hired by schools to work as staff members.

What's the big deal about being a direct hire?

With the trend in Japan moving more and more towards weakening labor's position, a dispatched worker will find it harder to stand alone when an employer decides that the Labor Standards Law doesn't apply to them.

Maybe it's time you became a member of a union so your voice can be joined with others' to help provide working conditions for you that are more in line with the labor laws of this country.




Letters and
Newspaper Articles

2006, 6


June 2006 Letter to PTA
(in html format)

Mainichi Shimbun 9/12


Kanagawa Shimbun 3/18

2006,3, 18

Mainichi Shimbun 3/18


Shuukan 3/17


Mainichi Shimbun 2/25


神奈川県 立高等学校PTA連合会

外国 人講師と学校事務

English Links


2006 Petition
English Petition information

Some Perspective and Speculation

By A concerned citizen
As one of the part-time foreign teachers who has been seriously affected by this action by the Kanagawa Board of Education, I'd like to add some perspective
and speculation on how some things may have occurred leading up to and beyond the time when the outsourcing of 89 PFTs throughout Kanagawa prefecture, took place.

    In February, 2006 after all PFTs were given a letter stating that they'd have no more direct hire positions after April, 2006 a handful of courageous part-time foreign teachers who had formed a union, were in discussions with the KBoE, trying to help them resolve the issues which it stated as the causes for an upcoming prefecture-wide outsourcing. While those talks were still underway and collective bargaining ongoing, PFTs throughout Kanagawa's public high schools were given another letter by their schools directing them to report to the outsourcing company within 3 days for interviews, if they wanted to continue working in a public high school. Outrageous?! Yes, it was. But as foreign workers with a fragile status in Japan, it was also extremely intimidating.
Many PFTs reluctantly attended those interviews, fearing they had no other option. Many felt that it was the lesser of two evils, the other being unemployment.

    Meanwhile, in collective bargaining, the unionized PFTs offered numerous ideas to help find solutions to the cited problems and showed their sincerity to bargain in good faith with the KBoE. Some of the ideas were to assist in recruiting new teachers and help with setting up training programs, create a network to share ideas, and standardize curriculum. We essentially offered to help create a complete system based on their specific needs. A proposal to offer a parallel system where the PFTs could work mentoring the new teachers was also made, however, all of those offers fell on dead ears and not long after, when faced with an approaching contract expiration deadline, it became necessary for a formal complaint to be filed with the Kanagawa Labor Committee accusing the Kanagawa Board
of Education of violation of  Japanese labor law.
   In session after session, the KBoE was increasing uncooperative in trying to come to a settlement and continually offered just a single concession. That being to introduce the PFTs to the outsourcing company. How generous of them!
   The court case moved along slowly with the PFTs pointing out multiple problems with the new system based on reports from inside the schools and
it wasn't until a sudden turn appeared when the KBoE failed to voluntarily furnish information requested

regarding dates that the principals were told of
the future plans for outsourcing, that a clear image may have emerged for the LC panelists.
   The KBoE later admitted that they had discussed the plan in October or November of 2005. That information finally came out only after being pressed by the Labor Committee to furnish it. But why were they so reluctant to furnish that?
   Might it have been because the KBoE didn’t want the Labor Committee to know that their strategy was to withhold the information from the PFTs about the outsourcing as long as possible, spring it on the PFTs as late as possible, and give the PFTs a mere 3-day window to report for interviews with the outsourcing company? That is what actually occurred. If the principals had been told of the upcoming outsourcing five or six months prior to it taking effect, why then weren’t the PFTs also notified in a timely fashion? It certainly would have been the considerate thing to do for its employees, to allow them time for making a very important decision about a big system transition.
    Well obviously, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to put one and one together and come up with the assumption that if the PFTs would have had adequate time to search for new jobs as an alternative, the KBoE would have been faced with massive re-staffing problems
which was logistically improbable to accomplish in such a short period of time. That was a highly undesirable outcome for the KBoE and therefore seemingly intolerable. Is it possible that a prime purpose for the KBoE’s action was to allow them to be the conduit to the outsourcing company and act as the outsourcing company’s recruiter? Did the KBoE intend to hand over the experienced PFT personnel already in their schools to the outsourcing company wrapped up neatly as a parcel?
   It's easy to imagine that the KBoE gambled that the majority would react defensively if given a very short amount of time and sign contracts with the outsourcing company to save their livelihoods, which unfortunately many uninformed PFTs did.

As with any large scale system restructuring, this would have to have been discussed, coordinated and strategized well among all parties, prior to implementation. One could easily assume that such a strategy could successfully enable the KBoE to pass along responsibility for those teachers already in the schools to the outsourcing company without having the company do much headhunting or training. The prime factor that the KBoE and the outsourcing company most certainly needed to make their efforts succeed though, was ‘timing’.
    To ensure that the majority of the experienced PFTs already in place at the high schools would sign with the new outsourcing 
company, it was imperative that the PFTs had little or no time to consider their options, begin communicating with one and another, and organize into a union to defend themselves to contest the action by the KBoE.

    Let's go backwards a bit for some perspective of the situation as it appeared leading up to the filing of the complaint. Repeated efforts were made in January and February, 2006 by the union to contact PFTs at their schools. Hundreds of faxes were sent to all of the public high schools in Kanagawa, dozens of phone calls were made, and finally letters were sent to each school addressed to the PFTs, but few were received by the individuals to whom the letters were addressed.
    In at least one reported case, an allied principal gave a fax message from a PFT union representative to a PFT in a high school and the principal said that he was instructed not to deliver that message to the PFT.  
    Some PFT members even sent faxes to themselves from their homes to their schools to see if they would have the union meeting information delivered to their desks at school, but most of the faxes were never received along with the majority of phone calls or letters. Mysterious? Not really; unlawful is more like it. These actions denied us the right to contact PFTs and lawfully form a union.

    Another possibly coordinated effort to weaken the handful of unionized PFTs’ collective bargaining position came in the form of principals directing Japanese teachers who knew about what was happening, not to discuss the issue with the general teacher population. We can attest to this fact having been told by a Teachers Union representative at a high school that the representative and the other teachers in the English department, were directed by the principal NOT to tell any other teachers what was going on.
    Was this just a single, isolated incident by a lone principal deciding a course of action by himself? Or perhaps, a principal doing as he was specifically directed by the KBoE so as not to allow the PFT Union to gain support among the general teacher population. The obvious reason being that a united support network which included the Teachers Union or coordinated sympathy for the PFTs from the general teaching population might present a serious problem for the KBoE’s plan to deliver the majority of PFTs to the outsourcing company.

Isolate them! Minimize their numbers! Crush that union!

A small group of foreigners being allowed to throw a wrench into a finely designed plan of the BoE of one of the largest prefectures in Japan?!! That certainly wouldn't be tolerated, would it?

Well, apparently it would be, 'cause we're back!!!!


To get qualified teachers back
into the classrooms.

To help protect the
teachers' rights to fair labor conditions.

To give power back to schools to hire and manage their teachers.

To keep big business out of the public education system.

To remind the BoEs what their responsibility
is supposed to be.

To do the right thing for the students.

私た ちが目指すこと


権利 を保てるよう助ける。





Tell us what's wrong at your school

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