Feb 22, 2017

Foreign lecturer gets pay-cut after remarking that Fukushima student might glow in the dark

A foreign lecturer at Kwansei Gakuin University (Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture) received a three-month pay cut after making a remark to a student from Fukushima Prefecture to the effect that they thought she might glow in the dark due to supposed radiation exposure. The remark by the lecturer was made back in 2014, however it is only now that media outlets are reporting on the story after the university made the announcement Tuesday.  

According to an article in YOMIURI ONLINE, in the fall of 2014 the student was taking a class conducted by the lecturer along with around 30 other students. During the class the lecturer turned off the lights in the room and remarked in both Japanese and English, “福島県出身なのに、光らないな” (You’re from Fukushima, so I thought you might glow. (Our translation)).  

The lecturer has been identified as a foreign national male, in his 40s, who works part-time at the university as an English-language teacher. 

The student endured the remarks initially until learning that the university had opened a facility for harassment counselling in April 2016, where she sought support. She is said to have been suffering from shock due to the remarks and has considered taking time off from classes.  

The lecturer is reported as saying that he doesn’t recall turning off the lights but that he did make his remarks which were intended as a joke. He also expressed a desire to apologise to the student. It is reported that the university will not renew his contract after March this year.  

While it will likely seem obvious to many that remarks to the effect made by the lecturer are wholly inappropriate and insensitive, apparently someone didn’t feel the same way at the time.  

This expat wasn’t present at the class, and the reports seem damning, but, at a less extreme level (hopefully), the incident perhaps highlights the need for caution from those of us working in Japan with Japanese people about what passes for humor where we are from and what might offend (or at least leave recipients of our jokes looking confused) over here.

What do you think? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

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  • edthethe

    on Feb 23

    Wow,I can see how someone can take it as offensive and be turned off by the comment. That I'd a really sensitive subject for some, but I feel the repercussions are pretty harsh. One moments lots of judgement list this person their job, and if they are on work visa to stay in japan, then their ability to live here. I feel like the situation could have been handled better, perhaps with a warning and a discussion between both the student and lecturer.

  • Jackson

    on Feb 24

    "It is reported that the university will not renew his contract after March this year." Good, and that's probably the bigger punishment that he will get to reflect on over the pay cut.

  • DaveJpn

    on Feb 24

    It's interesting that this is coming out into the news now. Two years or more after the fact!