San Jose, Benjamin A. and Piquero-Ballescas, Maria Rosario. (2010). Engaging Multiculturalism from Below: The Case of Filipino Assistant Language Teachers in Japan. Journal of Asian studies for Intellectual Collaboration, 162-180.
The article presents a new area in the study of the growing number of Filipinos in Japan who are in English-teaching occupations, particularly as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), hired mostly through private recruiting businesses that realized the potential of Filipinos to fill the human resource shortage in this field. The massive hiring of Filipinos as ALTs began from 2000, with the first Filipinos recruited being former recipients of the Japanese Ministry of Education (Monbusho) scholarships. As the authors argue, this hiring surge is a result of the convergence of the national government’s push for the use of the English language in the effort for the country’s internationalization, independent local government recommendations on hiring practices, recruitment practices with high shoukai (introduction) fees that led to the aggressive recruitment of Filipinos by fellow Filipinos, and the availability of English-speaking Filipinos in Japan. Using data from 27 informants, San Jose and Piquero-Ballescas show that unlike ALTs hired through the Japan Exchange and Teaching program, who usually stay in Japan only for several years, Filipino ALTs are long-term residents of Japan, showing an increasing integration of the Filipino communities into Japanese society. The paper also argues that while there remain constraints that limit the opportunities available to the Filipino ALTs, such as lower salaries and less benefits compared to the “white” ALT’s hired via the JET program, the integration of Filipino ALTs is a “positive site of engagement toward the incorporation of the Filipino… within Japanese society by allowing foreigners to be more visible in society” (164).