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"Letter-Letter 285"
December 19th, 2000
"2:14 a.m. - Abandon Ship!"
"Philosophy by the River"  by Yo/Gr
"Labor Day"  by Laf
"Good to be Home Again?"  by KCM
"Christmas Day in Tokyo"
"Life in the Caribbean"  by HTM
"Mega-Cities"  by JTF & LHS
"A Great Weekend"  by SAJ
"Experience is a Liability?!?"  by Gwendolyn Gallagher & LHS
"December 31st, 2000"

"2:14 a.m. - Abandon Ship!"    [Top of page]

(Nishi-Shinjuku)  No, I'm not writing about a sinking ship on the ocean - but the feeling is similar at the company I work at.  The words of the first person to quit after I started working there on March 23rd this year (his going away party was June 23rd) come back to me tonight - he didn't come right out and say what he meant directly, but on his way out of the company one day, he talked sideways to me as he was looking through a magazine:

"Saxon - you're getting sucked in..."

I looked over at him expecting him to be joking, but he didn't smile, and he didn't look at me - so it came across as a bona fide warning more than a joke.  I have often remembered those words, particularly tonight....  The Russian IT guy gave written notice, and the president tore it up - which has a special meaning in Japan that I don't entirely understand myself, but in any case it seems that there's this ritual where someone will submit an intent to quit in writing, and if it's accepted, then that's it - they're out, but if it's torn up (as I've often seen in Japanese movies), then the person keeps working...  [00/12/20 note: I've been asking around about this, and everyone I've mentioned it to says that letters of intent to quit are not generally torn up - given back, yes, but not usually torn up... maybe prez has been watching too many television dramas?]

[10/08/15 note: There's something else too.  In 1984, I mentioned to a woman here about the model "Skyline" car, and she told me "No, there's no such car as that."  Later, I was with her in her car going somewhere, and - lo and behold - a Skyline was right in front of us, with "Skyline" written on the back.  I pointed it out to her and she seemed very displeased.
   Around 1996, I began to notice that young people were dropping the final "i" with words like "samui", "atsui", etc., so they became "samu", "atsu", etc.  I mentioned it to a local friend, and again he said "No, no such thing.  You're mistaken."  Later, I was with him when some friends of his joined us outside, and one of them said it was "samu" instead of "samui".  I basically said "Behold! - It is as I told you!"  Again that displeased look and he claimed it was because they were from Osaka. 
   Etc. etc. etc. - I could go on and on with similar examples.  The point is - there seems to be a basic rule that outsiders are not qualified to notice something about the local culture, and this thing of the resignation letter may well have been just such a situation.  I wasn't supposed to know about that, so it was denied?  It doesn't sound plausible, but if you'll go back with me in a time machine, I'll show you and you can see for yourself.]

The Prez and the IT guy were in the Prez's office for a couple of hours and from time to time I could hear the IT guy's voice sounding as though he were on the verge of losing his temper.  The resident hard core racist and Mr. N, the guy who ignored my existence (LL-283 "A Melancholy Day") hung around drinking, eating potato chips, and generally looking and sounding sinister like vultures waiting for someone still alive to hurry up and become dinner.

There was an uncomfortable electricity in the air - and when the IT guy finally came out of the Prez's office and walked by, he made a series of faces expressing... I don't think there is any way I can put the well-beamed faces he made into words, but to put it simply, I took it that it was an exasperating experience.  Before having a chance to talk with him, the Prez called me into his office and referred to the guy, saying "ITMan-san ga, atama-ga okashii" ("There's something wrong with ITMan", or more literally "ITMan's head is strange").  I had been expecting him to ask me "Did you know that ITMan is planning to quit?", so I was taken aback, but I just put on a stupid face to best weather the storm while hearing that "He has lost his confidence and needs support..."..  It seemed that the Prez really didn't think he was leaving, so I thought to myself "ITMan... you didn't come right out and tell him!"

Soon thereafter, the Prez took his leave and while I was wrapping up some work at my computer, the IT guy sprang into action, grabbing a couple of the empty Dell computer boxes (two new computers at the company, but alas, not for me), and started cleaning out his desk.  The hard core racist guy who has reportedly threatened to quit (now that would be nice!) - ostensibly because he has other job offers, but more likely a status and salary raising ploy - expressed surprise that ITMan was really leaving, and then said as he continued to clean out his desk: "Don't take any of the company's things", which would have made me really mad - in fact it made me mad hearing it on the sidelines - but it didn't seem to faze the ITMan, who is quite politically astute.  He just said "After being here a long time, I've accumulated a lot of my own stuff in my desk."

There was an even more uncomfortable feeling in the air for me as I tried to wrap up a report, so I rushed through the last page and-a-half and stuffed my time card into the time clock to punch out - and thus found myself in front of the elevators just as ITMan rushed up with the first of his three boxes.  He had pressed the down button for both the regular elevator and the freight elevator, and as he looked about to use the smaller one, but I saw the freight elevator (which has a switch for leaving the doors open) was only a couple of floors behind in its climb, I directed myself, him and the three boxes into the larger one after hitting the open button.  ITMan couldn't get out of there fast enough - and when I looked questioningly at him about his meeting with the Prez, he told me:

"I tried to be nice about it, but he tore up my written resignation..."

"Prez doesn't seem to really believe you're leaving from what he said to me." I commented.

"That's a big mistake!"  He replied.

He went on to say that he'd already signed a contract with a European company that will be paying him one and a half times what he's getting now, and the job is infinitely more interesting - offering not only much better prospects for advancement, but trips to Europe - from where he will easily be able to visit his native Russia.

Outside, a friend of his was waiting in a new car, so we loaded the boxes in the trunk and back seat.  As we stood there, he said "This is a nice car, isn't it".  I agreed that it was, and as he looked at it, he said "In a year, I'll be driving a car like this."  And then, suggesting I put myself in a position to also buy a new car, he suggested I take flight myself.  I shook hands with him, his friend, him again, and they drove purposely off into the night.

I then headed for Shinjuku Station feeling that I was walking on a listing deck of an unseaworthy ship.......      [Top of page]

"Philosophy by the River"    [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Life
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2000
From: Yo/Gr  [US / Japan]

Quick story.  A coworker and I were out in the real sticks - about one hour from Tokushima.  We stopped to eat our delicious fast food grub next to a river.  We met a local man who was out walking with some wild dogs (the ones people let go after they are too lazy to take care of them anymore) - he pointed out that people in the city live on top of each other, and because of this, they lose the 'heart' of Japan.  He said people in the country are much more open-minded and kind, while people in the cities get caught up in their little worlds.  He then pointed to one of the dogs and said how it was very relaxed, in a way you never see city dogs.  It's hard to explain the dog's look, but it really did have a look of satisfaction.  Anyway, it was an interesting perspective from the Japanese side.  One I have never heard before, as most people in Japan seem to look down on life in the countryside...

Yo/Gr      [Top of page]

"Labor Day"    [Top of page]

Subject: August in Review
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 2000
From: Laf  [US]

Monday was Labor Day... it is always nice to have an extra day off.  Ours was pretty hectic.  We decided to combine a surprise birthday party for a friend with our annual Labor Day barbecue.  The party was a success.  The birthday guy was completely surprised.  Because it was a week after his birthday, we caught him pretty much completely unawares.  The barbecue was absolutely great!  We had about 30-35 people here throughout the day.  Most came and stayed the entire day.  We actually had all of our grandchildren, my sisters grandson and all of the adopted grandkids together at once.  Actually, all of the people who make up our extended family were here together at the same time for the first time all summer.  That made the day even more special.  The weather was hot and sunny - the pool was packed the entire day.  Aabbb made my favorite dish.  He takes a pork loin roast and cuts it into small chunks.  Then he parboils it in water and a special barbecue sauce until it almost falls apart.  This is served either as it is, or with a side of barbecue sauce.  Boy is that ever a popular entree for our Labor Day barbecue.  It is my absolute favorite.  I guess I already said that though didn't I?  Oh well... it certainly was good eating!

Have you ever noticed that when you have a short work week that there seems to be more to get accomplished than there should be?  It is as if all of the nicely simmering pots that represent projects in progress all have to boil over on a short week.  Mine certainly did this week.  I lost a key employee a couple of weeks ago.  I have a young girl in training to take over at least part of the position, but it will be months before I can turn most of the job over to her.  She is bright and very trainable but the nature of the job means it takes time to train someone correctly.  So... I have had to absorb the extra duties into my job description.  I am not awfully happy about that, since I am overloaded already.  I can tell you there were at least two days (Tuesday and Thursday) this week when I came home so tired I simply went to bed at 6:00pm.  It worked out well that Tuesday was Aabbb's dart night, and he had to work late on an installation of a central air conditioner - so, he didn't see how exhausted I was getting.  He tends to get overprotective if he see me overtired.

As I mentioned, Tuesday night was the opening match on this dart season.  Aabbb and Ccddd (our son) did so well last season that they were afraid they were going to get bumped all the way out of the "C" division into the "B's".  As luck would have it, their team captain had to take this season off.  He has carpal tunnel syndrome in his throwing wrist.  Anyway, that means that without their very best player, it wasn't possible to bump them up more than one level.  They were pretty happy about that!  Aabbb hopes that the team composition by next season can be a real family affair.  No, I don't throw darts, but our daughter, Bbccc does.  She used to be quite good, and she is practicing again.  She figures she will be ready to play on the team next season.  That means there will only be one player on the team who isn't a LastName.  Cool, huh?

Sometimes you start a project to benefit someone else, and it turns out that you get at least as much from it as the person you started it for.  About six weeks ago, I set aside Wednesday evening after work for a special time for my mother.  I realized that I was really not giving her as much quality time as I would like.  So, we made a standing appointment.  Every Wednesday I would have Bbccc drop me off at her apartment and we would spend an hour or so visiting.  Then Aabbb would pick us up and take us out to supper.  At least every other week we try to follow supper with a mini shopping excursion.  Aabbb gives both mom and I money to fund a little shopping.  Usually, I keep mine in reserve just in case she goes over what he gives her.  She is on a tight fixed income so she sees these little outings as having "found money" (money that is not designated to pay some bill or something like that).  Anyway, as I said, we started the project to give mom more quality time.  It has ended up being something special for all of us.  I discovered this week that I have become quite protective of that time.

This week it turned out to be an extra special evening - Bbccc was able to join us.  We were meeting Aabbb at this neat little restaurant that he discovered.  It is rather off the "beaten trail" but it looked really nice.  So Bbccc and I picked up mom and we were off.  Just as we entered the restaurant, my cell phone started ringing.  I answered to find my sister Ddeee telling me (she works for me in research) that one of the more difficult employees... a salesman... had called to speak to the owner.  The owner was not available as he was at a school function with his son (Hey!  Even owners of companies occasionally get a life).  So, this "wonder-child" decided to demand that I call him on my time to let him vent on me.  I asked Ddeee if it was a bona-fide emergency.  She said "No, just a bona-fide nuisance".  I discovered in that moment that I was NOT going to let anything interfere with my night with mom.  I told Ddeee to call the employee back and tell him that no I wasn't going to call him that evening.  I was doing something important.  That if he wanted to talk to me... call me back the next day during work hours.

It was really cool for a night out.  Mom and I got to chat, Aabbb and Bbccc played darts, and the crowning point was when I discovered a sign that said they had karaoke every Friday night.  Since I love singing karaoke, I was in heaven.  This restaurant is only about 15 minutes from where we live.  The only bad thing is that it starts rather late in the evening... 10:00pm.  By that time I am usually ready to go to sleep.

Well, the work on the house continues.  We are concentrating on the master bedroom.  Aabbb ordered the border that I found that I liked so much.  He bought paint but I really don't like what he bought... wrong color.  We are still discussing it.  I have a hunch that if we use what he bought, I am going to be unhappy with it and once the border is up I will be stuck with it.  That will drive me crazy!  By the way, we accidentally found what we think might be a contributing factor to Aabbb's breathing problem.  We had one wall in the bedroom that we put wallpaper on.  It was for effect and looked pretty, but now that we are changing the look of the room and the color scheme, the wall had to come down.  One of the few problems we have in Florida is with dampness... in short we get mold easily.  The spores from mold can really bother anyone with a breathing problem.  Guess what was under the paper when we pulled it off... MOLD.  Aabbb treated the entire wall, and now feels at least a measurable amount better in that room.  That is one of the reasons we have decided not to keep the effect of one wall with wallpaper.  It just isn't worth the hassle and potential health problems for Aabbb.

Bbccc is supposed to be bringing all of the grandkids over this afternoon to visit with papa and play in the pool.  The weather is getting a little dark, so I hope she does the visit fairly early.  Otherwise, the kids will not get to play in the pool.

Laf      [Top of page]

"Good to be Home Again?"    [Top of page]

Subject: Hi
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000
From: KCM  [US]

My oldest sister, her husband and two year old girl just moved in last week.  She's staying for a month (ha!) while her new house is being remodeled.  My sister is 14 years older than I, and that fact accounts for much of her attitude towards me and my younger sister.  ..........  It's driving me nuts, especially as her family is sleeping in my room (it was her room before she got married) and I have to sleep on the floor in my other older sister's room as well as be a free baby-sitter for one more week.

My younger sister leaves for San Diego today.  She's very happy and (probably) nervous, but I think she'll be okay.

I'm disappointed because I won't be able to see my best friend while I'm here.  I've only seen her once over the entire summer.  She's leaving for China in a few days with her parents so she can get her grandmother.

My uncle just quit his job yesterday but refused to talk about it, since he said it just made him angry and frustrated.  It's not the first time he's done it.  He hasn't been in America for very long, and in fact, in China, he had a successful business.  Here, because he can't speak English, he cannot get the kind of jobs he is qualified for.


>_< My oldest sister is lecturing again.  There's this tendency in my family to insult instead of praise.  It's not fun.  The last time I went to a concert, my dad said, "Man, I can't imagine you guys dancing.  You never sing, you don't do this, or that, what are you going to a concert for?"

One more week.  And then I'll be homesick again.

KCM      [Top of page]

"Christmas Day in Tokyo"    [Top of page]
In Motion  2000/12/25  19:30

I'm now on one of the three trains I take between home and the office - as New Year's Day is the big yearly holiday in Japan, today was a normal workday.  Three of the Caucasians are out of the country for the holidays (the Russian to Russia, the Canadian to Canada, and the American to China), so I took advantage of the CD burners in the Russian's (IT Manager) and Canadian's (Something Project Manager) unused computers to make some back-up disks.  It would be great if the computer I'm using had a CD burner, but the two I used today are the only ones in the company.

As I went back and forth between my computer and the two newer machines, there were dirty looks from Mr. N and Mr. Y - who have unofficially proclaimed themselves successors to the Russian guy who is leaving the company for greener pastures and bluer skies at an European company... leaving me in the middle of an IT power struggle, but it's probably in my best interest not to fall into the IT Manager position anyway, as I really am sick of mucking about with computer set up stuff - I've done it too much already.  As I left the company today, Mr. Y & Mr. N were chatting as they stupidly did a re-install of W-98 to clear up a setting error after doing a desk re-shuffle.  They think they're taking something away from me - and I suppose they are - but it felt good in a way to leave them to their folly as I walked out of the company to head for home to spend what's left of Christmas with my family.

I'm not enjoying the train I'm on right now by the way... there's an unpleasant woman sitting next to me who keeps elbowing me in my ribs...  But never mind, the ride should be over in about ten minutes, and I can get myself home and away from office politics and the evil train woman.      [Top of page]

"Life in the Caribbean"    [Top of page]

Re: Rain...
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 23:27 AST
From: HTM  [Caribbean]

Wow what a week I have had!!  You know, the kind where you wish you could just go back to bed and let the whole week restart!

The guy who I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with and I are, like, this close to breaking up.  You know, it's like you think you've found your soul mate... the perfect person in the world for you, and yet something ends up going wrong.  I know what happened this time though... it began with me getting a promotion.  He wasn't happy for me at first... in fact he was like... "Why did you take it?"  He actually told me he didn't think I would have enough time for him with me being busy.  To top it off, he decided to patch up things with two of his old flames... saying he wanted to remain friends with them.  Later he apologized, saying he was happy for me, so I forgave him.  Today we decided to chat online and he told me his old GF was there and he was talking to her also.  I was OK with it since I am friends with an old BF of mine.  Yet he barely spoke two words to me, so I told him if I am not making him happy, then he should find someone else.  He twisted this all around to make me look like the bad one!  GUYS! :)

I didn't mean to go on like this :)  Sorry if I bore you, but I think I just needed to get that off my chest.  And you don't know me so you cant judge me! :)  So... what do you think?  Why are guys like this?  Then to make matters worse, I am sick! :(  I am on medication and hopefully everything is going to be well.

Yeah, coverage of the Olympics is so biased!  As we are a small country, we carry Canadian coverage since we found that American coverage was extremely biased.  Not that Canadian isn't!  Like today for example, Obadele Thompson (who is from my country) placed first in his heat and they didn't even mention it - they only concentrated on Donavan Baily and how he didn't place!

HTM      [Top of page]

"Mega-Cities"    [Top of page]

Subject: New York
Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2000
From: JTF  [US]

Just returned home after a week and a half in New York.  I had a great time exploring the city and riding the subways.  As we approached home, we flew over downtown Seattle - which looks minuscule now compared to Manhattan.  The density of the population in New York is amazing.  The city lives up to it's namesake - it really does never sleep.  The next few days, I will be spending mostly asleep, recovering from vacation.


Tokyo and New York are somewhat similar in that respect - crowded trains, rush-rush-rush, work-work-work...  From Boise to Sacramento I didn't notice much change size-wise (there were many other differences however!), but when I moved to San Francisco, I thought I was in the Big City.  I thought so that is until I came back for a visit from Tokyo and then San Francisco seemed like a small town!  When I visited New York from Tokyo however, I felt basically at home with the crowds, in spite of a rather different atmosphere in New York.      [Top of page]

"A Great Weekend"    [Top of page]

Subject: 25/09/2000
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2000  +0200
From: SAJ  [US / Holland]

What a nice weekend we had here... and it was so nice not to watch Aabbb work for a change!

Friday night we went to a fair and walked around.  Just a very tiny fair, but we had fun and rode a couple of the rides.  Saturday morning we went to the nursery and picked up a few things I wanted.  I am going to plant bulbs this year in layers in clay pots.  I also found a hoya, but now were do I put it??  I will have to see what I can find on-line about them.  At the front door of the nursery there was a sign posted saying "Sorry, but it takes weeks to get our Christmas items out, so please accept our apologizes for the mess you are about to see".  They don't really celebrate Halloween over here but there were a few things out and I found a little ceramic pumpkin that holds a tea candle which I picked up for the living room.  Lots of gourds being sold now everywhere which people put out and leave until spring.  I enjoyed looking at the Christmas stuff but refrained from buying anything.  After lunch we went on into town.  There was a market where they were holding a contest judging selling techniques.  It was like watching a contest for auctioneers.  It was set up like a regular market, and the judges just walked around with the vendors never knowing when they were being judged.  It was neat to watch.  There were also lots of street performers and live music throughout the town.  Aabbb's guitar teacher's band was playing (as they do every year), so we went over and watched them for awhile and then went on home for dinner.

After eating, we went back and walked around the city again for the night entertainment.  It is so neat the way the city changes its appearance after the sun goes down.  You get the feeling you are in a different city altogether.  The canal was filled with boats and barges which reminded me a lot of the Christmas Boat Parade sitting still.  There were lots of traditional Dutch activities and so many people were dressed in the native dress.  Yesterday another market was held which was like the normal market, only bigger and with more clothes and stuff rather then flowers and veggie booths.  More live music throughout the town, and the city was packed (and I do mean packed!).  Last night there was a TV show being taped in the square and they announced that over 100,000 had shown up during the day.  We went back to the fair last night after going home to change into something a bit warmer and took one more ride on the Octopus (my favorite) and went to view some of the show being taped before calling it quits.  The weather was perfect all weekend.  It started to sprinkle as we were walking home last night but the rest of the weekend it was warm and sunny with a nice breeze.  Summer cloths in the daytime and only light jackets at night.

So here it is Monday and back to normal, which also means I need to start catching up on things that weren't done over the weekend - hope you had a nice weekend as well.

SAJ      [Top of page]

"Experience is a Liability?!?"    [Top of page]

This next story is actually a little out of the scope of the LL-Letters, as it includes the author's real name.  In fact, I would prefer not to use it, but in addition to the author having given me permission to include her name - (given the public nature of the issue, a pseudonym wouldn't provide real anonymity anyway), I feel that the bizarre situation it details is something worth putting into form with words.  I've experienced it somewhat myself, and it ties in with the low regard in which English teaching is held in general.  It got to the point for me that when someone asked me what I was doing for a living, and I said "I'm an English teacher" - I would look at the listener's face and see a reaction that seemed to indicate I had said something like "I'm a septic tank cleaner" or something equally disagreeable.  So, to add my feelings to the situation elaborated below, I would strongly recommend anyone considering working in Japan to avoid teaching English if they can possibly do something else.  Admittedly, that's probably going overboard a little - but just a little.  Considering jobs held in even lower esteem, like washing dishes and digging ditches, English teaching is a great job - but in the white collar world, I can't think of many jobs more universally (in Japan at least) held in contempt than the job of teaching English.  As Ms. Gallagher mentions in her letter to me below, the less experience you have in Japan and in teaching English the better.  Actually most "English teaching" jobs in Japan are not true teaching jobs at all, but rather entertainment jobs.

Oops... I shouldn't get started on that one.....  It almost makes me happier in my present job to remember the dark aspect of teaching English, but "Proofreader" is just the written version of "English conversation teacher"...  At least I don't have to perform in front of a room full of people as I did before...  With that:

Subject: Re: IfICould
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2000
From: Gwendolyn Gallagher [US / Japan]

I'm sorry for not getting back to you.  I had quite a pile of things to prepare for the case at that time, and by the time I'd caught up with the necessities, I just couldn't think about it anymore.  As I'm sure you can imagine, sometimes I just get overwhelmed and have to set things aside, and think about and do other things.  If I concentrated on the lawsuit all the time, I wouldn't be able to keep doing it.  I really do appreciate your concern and encouragement.  I don't know if it's appropriate, but I have a recent case summary that I had to put together for a talk I did this summer to a group of Hokkaido JETs.  I'm sending that along in case it may be of use.

Most recently we submitted to the court affidavits by the president and immediate past president of JALT, and one by an intercultural communications scholar in Australia who has a lot of Japan experience.  They commented on the lower court's decision that the teaching experience of foreign instructors is a liability rather than an asset.  So sad that such an absurdity requires comment, isn't it?  But I'm very grateful to them.

My sons have just come out of their bath and are waiting for me to read the next chapter of Huckleberry Finn...

Take care,


The Gallagher vs. Asahikawa University unfair dismissal suit is notable not only as one of the few unfair dismissal suits by a foreign national, but is also said to be possibly unique in Japanese legal history in that it involves an employee who was fired, reinstated, and fired a second time.  On February 1, 2000 Asahikawa District Court issued a decision against the plaintiff, which perhaps adds a new leaf to legal history as it creates a precedent that long experience in Japan and marriage to a Japanese national constitute acceptable grounds for dismissal of a foreign teacher.

Gwendolyn Gallagher (US national, Japanese permanent resident, 45) was employed as a full-time teacher of English at Asahikawa University, a small private 4-year college, in April 1984.  She was engaged on one-year renewable contracts until 1991, when the contract period was stepped up to five years.  Then in 1996, after 12 unblemished years of teaching, she was abruptly dismissed.  The university refused to offer any explanation.

First lawsuit
April 12, 1996  Gallagher filed at Asahikawa District Court for a preliminary disposition (karishobun), requesting that her salary and status be restored on the grounds of unfair dismissal.

The first hearing was held on May 8, 1996.  The judge confirmed that a good, logical reason was required for a dismissal, especially in the case of a long-time employee like Ms. Gallagher.  He enquired what the university's reason was, but their counsel, unable to provide one, said he would prepare something for the next hearing.  Later the university supplied written affidavits detailing their reasons for Gallagher's firing.

The main points were:

1. The university required "fresh foreigners" ("furesshu na gaikokujin") and reiterated the need for "fresh natives" ("furesshu neitibu")

2. Gallagher was "too Japanese."  ("Nihonnaizu sare")

3. The university had instituted a system of automatically non-renewable contracts and were trying to protect their system.

Oddly, the school's chief witness admitted during in-court testimony that Gallagher's teaching had been satisfactory.

Court Ruling
In December 1996 the court issued a provisional ruling (karishobun):
1. recognizing Gallagher's dismissal as without cause and unjust
2. recognizing Gallagher's legal status as an Asahikawa University faculty member.
3. requiring the university to pay her full salary retroactive to dismissal, continuing until the conclusion of the suit.

As a result of the ruling, the university decided to settle, reinstating Ms. Gallagher just a few days before the start of the 1997 school year.  As a condition to this court-sponsored settlement, Ms. Gallagher clearly stipulated that she would not sign or verbally agree to any contract which was non-renewable or had an automatic termination.  Bolstered by the court's clear decision that she could not be fired again without a "good logical reason", she accepted a one-year contract for the new school year, thus ending the first lawsuit.

Second Dismissal and Lawsuit
Three months after reinstatement, Gallagher received a notice that she would again be terminated at the end of the school year.  She filed suit again in November 1997.

This time the university initially offered "curricular change" as a reason for the dismissal, although classes normally taught by Ms. Gallagher had not been eliminated from the curriculum.  Later, they added the claim of financial distress, although when questioned in court, the school's spokesman could not offer any examples of what other measures had been taken to economize, and admitted that the university had both bought land and substantially increased faculty research allowances since Gallagher's first dismissal.

The Decision
Asahikawa District Court (Chief Judge Norio Saiki) refused Gallagher's petition on the grounds that "because the plaintiff is married to a Japanese and has been in Japan for 14 (sic) years, she is unable to teach recent foreign culture as found in foreign countries..."  While the blatant discrimination of this decision has shocked and dismayed the expatriate and language-teaching community, many Japanese observers and labor unionists are also concerned that it seems to set aside labor law's strict requirements on acceptable reasons for dismissal, which could lead to easier firing of Japanese employees as well.

Gallagher is now appealing this decision in the Sapporo High Court.

Committee to Reinstate Gallagher
(Gyaragaa Sensei Kyoudan ni Modosu Kai)
Takasagodai 6 chome 8-14
Asahikawa 070-8061

T/F O166-63-1493
Masahiro Asada, Secretary
Toshio Omachi, Chair"      [Top of page]

"December 31st, 2000"    [Top of page]
Nishi-Shinjuku  2000/12/31  15:47

Last day of the year and last official day of the 20th Century.  Not every year, but on occasion I've made resolutions with a much stronger intent than usual, and this is one of those times.  The political wars have raged on with intensified fury at the office, and I've come to realize that it's a defective ship with several damaged rudders trying to pull the company in different meaningless directions...  OK, so that's it then.  Time to pile up the sandbags, man all battle stations, and send out an SOS for another ship to board.  There was a brief last-working-day-of-the-year party in the conference room, and I found myself feeling calm in the knowledge that I not only was not part of the group, but that I didn't want to be, I felt - possibly for the first time in my life - comfortable standing alone in a room with a few enemies, no friends, and too many sheep.  I've always wanted to have no enemies, and strived to reach some kind of understanding with those around me... and then wanted to move on to a new location when there were unresolvable conflicts.  That is still fundamentally true I suppose, but there was a moment in that room when I felt a calm that I don't remember experiencing before.  In the past couple of weeks, I've zapped off a few defensive/offensive (the best defense is...) acerbic e-mails (BCC'ed to the Prez) to people right after they had shot poison arrows my way... making myself new enemies in the process, but they would not be friends, so I decided "OK, let's make history together and put this dirty business of yours into written words for posterity!".  It's been very effective, but now I had better watch my back very carefully!  What should make the job easier is that I only have to clean up the mucked up English they send my way, and then run for the elevators as fast as my legs will carry me.  There being no possibility of advancement in the company, there is also nothing to worry about beyond the minimum required work, and getting out.  I hope I find a better job soon!

So... here's to a good year, a better century, fantastic millennium, etc.  Let's all hope the world is in better hands than those at the company I'm working at.  Or if not, then here's to fewer sheep at least!

Sore dewa!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
Images Through Glass
Nishi-Shinjuku (etc.), Tokyo
December 31st, 2000

PS  I'm way behind with editing, but aim to catch up with things along with spending less time in that &%$# office.  See you in January!    [Top of page]