Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri,
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8243
Fraud and waste should not be tolerated, especially in a First World country like Japan. But even so, Keio University constitutional expert Prof. Setsu Kobayashi’s statement that “Teachers should never be paid when they’re not actually working” from the October 21, 2011 story “Teacher’s misused work time” was a slap. Full time teachers in this country are paid a salary, not a wage, and in all my years living here I have yet to meet a Japanese - even a businessman - who understands the difference between a salary and a wage. Professor Kobayashi’s statement makes me think that he doesn’t know, either. But his words do expose the Japanese predilection to confuse busy-ness with actual accomplishment. Among other differences, one is paid a salary for the accomplishment of work, and a wage for the performance of labor. To accomplish their work professionals do not need to be seen to be laboring constantly. But I think the appearance of busy-ness panders to the Japanese notion that the purpose of life is to work, rather than the opposite view which is also common in the world. So if people are not constantly busy then something must be amiss, right? Wrong.
Some of the complaints against offending teachers described in the story sound petty. I’m not surprised. But others are downright off the mark, such as criticizing teachers for not performing work - in this case attending training programs - during paid vacation time. Paid vacation is a right, not a privilege and to expect teachers to work during it and then still call it “vacation” is an oxymoron. That doesn’t mean that we cannot expect teachers to attend training programs during their vacation time, but please lets use honest language about it.
But I could be wrong.