Monday, October 15, 2007


I heard back from Peace Boat the other day, and it turns out I didn't make the cut (again). It was about what I expected to hear. I knew competition was high for the positions, and the other people I interviewed with were absolutely amazing. I remember walking out of the room thinking I sure wouldn't have picked me over them. No harm in having giving it a try though. And I'm not ruling out giving it another try at some point in the future. (3rd time could be a charm). And At least I got to see a bit of Tokyo while I was up there, so it wasn't a wasted trip.

Obviously this was something I wanted to do because I put in the time, effort, and money to get to Tokyo and back. (Not to mention a couple days on the application). It would have combined my interest in peace activism with the experience of teaching English over the last 6 years, and I would have gotten to see a lot of the world in the process. So had I been accepted, I would have gone. But as I told a lot of people in private, in a lot of ways it will make my life a whole lot easier if I don't get accepted.

Allow me to explain: If I had gotten accepted I would have left Japan in January just about the time my visa was expiring. Because I wasn't continuing with my job I wouldn't have gotten the visa renewed. When the Peace Boat would have returned to Tokyo 3 months later, I would have been without a current visa, and would have had to show proof of my planning to return to the US (like plane tickets) before being allowed to get off the boat. Then once back in the US, I would be trying to get back to Japan so I could get married to Shoko (which was the whole reason I came over here in the first place in January, although we have yet to tie the knot). Of course since I work in a small town, that would all depend on whether the company would still have an opening for me at the branch I work in now...

And even that would depend on whether my company is still up and running in 6 months time. And if you read the news on the internet, it's not looking good.

Whereas if I stay put where I am now, I'll be eligible for unemployment insurance once the company goes bankrupt, and I can look for a new job from within Japan or possibly just take on private lessons. Depending on whether the company goes under before or after I get my visa renewed in January, there could be some visa sponsorship issues, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Whilst I was waiting for the outcome of the Peace Boat application we had been keeping the wedding date open, but now we're thinking sometime this coming spring. We don't know exactly when yet, but details will be forthcoming soon.

As for the situation with the company: Payday has come and gone this month, and our pay has been delayed again. Last month it came a week late. This month we'll have to wait and see if it will come at all. The predominant view of the internet community (I get most of my news and rumors from sites like and seems to be "stick a fork in them, there done."

Shoko and I had a bit of a row the other day in part because she accused me of just sitting on my ass and waiting for the company to go bankrupt without actively looking for other jobs. I tend to take the more relaxed attitude that it will all work out in the end and I'll just wait and see what happens.
Some people are starting to panic, but my view is that I never intended on making this a career out of this job anyway, and it might be kind of interesting to be on board when the ship goes down. At the very least it will make a fun bar story in the years to come. Or if I ever write a book about Japan, I'm sure I could milk this for at least a chapter. (Keep in mind this is the biggest English Conversation company in Japan. It's infamous in Japanophile circles). As it is every day we all show up and exchange rumors about the company's eminent collapse. I've got to say it keeps things interesting at work.

There's been lots of talk about a strike. In fact some one I know has garnered a bit of nationwide notoriety for his organizing efforts. (This is his handiwork here.)...

Maybe I've been in Japan too long, but the idea of a strike doesn't really appeal to me. All I can think about is how I would inconvenience my students, and the nice Japanese staff girls I work with, if me and the other teachers stopped coming to work.

My dad once said that for a supposed radical I'm way too accommodating to people, and there's probably some truth in that. But also to me the point of a strike is when management is refusing to make concessions about something they have and they're not giving. When the company is bankrupt, it seems to me you either cut your losses and leave or you cross your fingers and hope for the best. But I don't see how a strike will help anything.

At any rate, I'll be posting more updates on both the wedding plans and the work situation. Watch here for further details.

Link of the Day
I recently found this site for Free Video Games online while searching for free Tetris. Be warned: use at your own risk. Huge time waster.

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