Feb 5, 2016

News: The One With The ALT Dispatch Firm and The Politician

News: The One With The ALT Dispatch Firm and The Politician photo

Have you heard the joke about the Japanese politician who was outed for accepting cash and vouchers from an ALT dispatch company?

Well, if you’ve been reading the news of late, you will have.  Except it’s not a joke (although it sounds like a bad one), it’s an ‘outing’ made in an article from The Mainichi, Thursday (Feb 4, 2016, hats off to the headline - Execs of staffing agency appreciate Olympic minister's efforts to promote use of ALTs).  The politician in question, Toshiaki Endo (now minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games), has denied any wrongdoing (and hasn’t been found of any), although he has admitted to receiving the cash and vouchers, saying they were properly accounted for.  According to The Mainichi article, ‘individual donations’ amounting to 9.55 million yen were received by organizations linked to Endo from the founder of the dispatch company, between 2010 and 2014.  The article claims that Endo, as chairman of the LDP’s Headquarters for the Revitalization of Education at the time, ‘pushed policies in favor of the (dispatch) firm’.

Now, I don’t know what country you come from, but rumors/accusations of politicians on the take are, perhaps, nothing new.  What we might be surprised about here is that any ALT dispatch firm has cash that can be freed up for mixing in such powerful circles.

It’s long been the lament of many an ALT that their salaries are stagnant and in no way reflect the sometimes 40 plus hours a week they are scheduled to spend in school, when contracts state they only need to be there for that magical 29.5.  One can’t help but feel that the 9.55 million yen might have been put to better use.

What may also come as a surprise is that such high ranking politicians are paying any interest in the ALT dispatch industry, at all.  This is an industry often accused of cutting corners, being as cheap as possible, and neglecting the labor rights of many of its ALTs, the very product that keeps them alive. Their bread and butter.  So many appeals to people with the power to tidy up the industry seem to fall on deaf ears.

During his education revitalization days, Endo pushed for more wider spread use of ALTs, and looked towards the private sector to supply them, with the help of public funds.  OK, so more opportunities for ALTs.  Could be good, I think.  An injection of public funds to support the plan, well, it sounds like a start.

So, where are these funds then?  I’m looking through a current jobs listing for ALTs and seeing salaries go as low as 170,000 yen/month.  Maybe this particular dispatch firm made the wrong kind of donation to the wrong kind of politician.  Maybe they didn’t make any donation at all.  Or maybe they’re just doing what too many dispatch firms do, neglect their staff, spread themselves too thin, and then brag about being the largest ALT supplier in such and such a prefecture.  In the interests of balance though, I’m seeing salaries go as high as 300,000 yen a month.  A show of hands, please, from those ALTs who’ve managed to bag this (excluding JETs).

Rumors are currently doing the social media rounds, claiming to identify the dispatch firm involved here. There are also rumors that the dispatch firm’s ALTs were sent an email prior to the story’s release.  Only rumors though, so it would be wrong to mention any names here.

ALTs, let us know what you think.

Twitter:  City_Cost_Japan


Source: The Mainichi

Image (cropped to fit)

ajuri Flickr License



A Q&A and blogging community about life in Japan (plus a load of life-in-Japan stats!). Get your questions answered, share your experience! | Inquiry -> KyodoNewsDigital International Media | Tokyo, Japan | +81 3 6252 6402