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  • Future prospects in academia?

    Next year I'll be going into an MA program paid in full by the Monbukagakusho and after that hopefully a Ph.D. somewhere.

    I'm wondering though what are the prospects of a career in academia in Nippon?

    I'm not talking about teaching English. I'm talking about qualified scholars who speak, read and write Japanese like... an academic.

    I know that with the declining population the need for teachers and instructors from kindergarten to grad school is also on the decline, but surely that doesn't mean there are no prospects in the future, does it?

    Anyone in the system have any thoughts on this? My field is Buddhism and Classical Chinese. Besides Nippongo I can also read (but no speaky) Mandarin and eventually I'll get myself literate in Sanskrit and maybe Tibetan. My Japanese isn't native, but I can read those thick thick academic works written even in pre-war Japanese kana and kanji, and even talk about it in a coherent manner (or so they keep telling me).

    I've heard from both Japanese and non-Japanese professors that if you're a foreigner who honestly knows how to speak and write quality Japanese then at the very least getting hired as a contract instructor is possible, but tenure is usually not available. Still, working even just as an instructor for a few years in a Japanese university would be desirable. I imagine trying to teach Buddhism and archaic Chinese Buddhist texts to undergrads in Japan might seem unusual, but I do (and formally will) have the qualifications.

    If all else fails I can always go work elsewhere in Asia like Singapore, Malaysia or even Hong Kong (or India, but that's highly unlikely so I've heard because Indians produce a lot of Ph.Dz and they don't have room for anyone else).

    Anyone on the inside care to comment?

  • #2
    If you really are a true academic you'll study your heart out and learn whatever it is you want to learn regardless of other people's opinions of your career prospects.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Jacque_S
      If you really are a true academic you'll study your heart out and learn whatever it is you want to learn regardless of other people's opinions of your career prospects.
      Barf on cue..............................

      That had to be the sappiest post you've ever made on here.

      Ax,

      If you are willing to be hired for what they consider your strengths as much or more than for what you consider your strengths, then you can get the whole damn doughnut. I had several attractive-esque offers for regular employment (i.e. Tenure Track) at several rather well regarded places.

      The problem as I see it is that with your specialty, your Innate Talents (i.e. your English ability) may not be as relevant as it is for me, but with the internationalisation of academia, most places are going to need somebody bilingual. Correspondence, conferences, all the various little aspects of academic life increasingly require English ability, and at least one faculty member or support staff with it.

      You will also likely be expected to teach in English, or teach some English. Even if this is not part of the original job offer, it will become part of the deal. せっかくだから。 The chances that you will be the first one to escape that trap are slim to nil. 

      You are only fooling yourself if you believe that your pure academic abilities will be enough to get you in, and allow you to be treated as a Quasi-Native. It won't, and you're not anyways.

      As for actually getting your own research done, that is up to you.

      But, yeah, all in all, with proper credentials and a good reputation, the world can be your Kaki if you want it.

      I chose to not want it, but it is there if you work for it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jacque_S
        If you really are a true academic you'll study your heart out and learn whatever it is you want to learn regardless of other people's opinions of your career prospects.
        Yeah, I already do that and hence the literacy in Cl.Chinese and being able to read much of the Taisho Buddhist canon without using the dictionary too much.

        Some people say I'm sugoi, but in reality I'm just a big geek.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by kurogane


          The problem as I see it is that with your specialty, your Innate Talents (i.e. your English ability) may not be as relevant as it is for me, but with the internationalisation of academia, most places are going to need somebody bilingual. Correspondence, conferences, all the various little aspects of academic life increasingly require English ability, and at least one faculty member or support staff with it.

          You will also likely be expected to teach in English, or teach some English. Even if this is not part of the original job offer, it will become part of the deal. せっかくだから。 The chances that you will be the first one to escape that trap are slim to nil. 
          I know one American prof who teaches religion in Japanese to Japanese students (and to the occasional Korean, Chinese and Canuck), and he doesn't have to teach English. I suspect, however, that he is the exception and that after over 30 years in Japanese academia he has a bit of room to make demands.

          Well, they do get him to help out the English speaking exchange students, but that's about it. Otherwise he is just regular faculty.

          May I ask why you decided against entering academia in Japan?

          Comment


          • #6
            Or you can always enter the financial services industry. Dieter Schwaller, the MD and COO of Blackrock Japan has a PhD in Japanese religions.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ax

              I'm not talking about teaching English. I'm talking about qualified scholars who speak, read and write Japanese like... an academic.
              That's quite an attitude you have there being an unqualified academic yourself.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ax
                May I ask why you decided against entering academia in Japan?
                He thought there was more money in getting Canadian welfare cheques, while selling detergent over the internet. All from the darkened confines of his parent's basement in Vancouver...

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                • #9
                  My uni has a new American teaching Int'l law. He replaced the old American who retired. Neither had to teach English.

                  It's just my assumption, but I doubt Japanese unis are looking for someone to teach Buddhism. I've never seen a job advert on JREC for one.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hijinx
                    That's quite an attitude you have there being an unqualified academic yourself.
                    Yeah, probably. I was an undergrad in Japan though for 12 months and I have friends (both undergrads and graduate students) in various Japanese universities. You know what they all say about foreign (western) instructors? They speak Japanese poorly and can't read or write Japanese very well.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Moobies
                      My uni has a new American teaching Int'l law. He replaced the old American who retired. Neither had to teach English.

                      It's just my assumption, but I doubt Japanese unis are looking for someone to teach Buddhism. I've never seen a job advert on JREC for one.
                      There is a small pool of academics who do Buddhism in Japan, so they usually don't have to advertise positions -- they just know someone personally they can hire.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ax
                        There is a small pool of academics who do Buddhism in Japan, so they usually don't have to advertise positions -- they just know someone personally they can hire.

                        Have you read the Blacklist of Japanese universities? You seem intent on trying to set yourself up here without actually being aware that a lot of institutional discrimination exists, and not just against English teachers. Not only that a lot of Japanese professors are also becoming contracted or temporary staff where they were tenured before.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ax
                          Yeah, probably. I was an undergrad in Japan though for 12 months and I have friends (both undergrads and graduate students) in various Japanese universities. You know what they all say about foreign (western) instructors? They speak Japanese poorly and can't read or write Japanese very well.
                          True for many, but many of them are still way ahead of their J-counterparts in terms of academic quality.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by KansaiBen
                            Have you read the Blacklist of Japanese universities? You seem intent on trying to set yourself up here without actually being aware that a lot of institutional discrimination exists, and not just against English teachers. Not only that a lot of Japanese professors are also becoming contracted or temporary staff where they were tenured before.
                            That blacklist site seems so old and outdated. Plus, doesn't it really focus mainly on English teaching positions?

                            My uni is on there as both black and green. We have about 12 tenured professors who are non-Japanese (only 3 being English teachers) and lots of contracted workers (non-Jpn and Jpn alike).

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by KansaiBen
                              Have you read the Blacklist of Japanese universities? You seem intent on trying to set yourself up here without actually being aware that a lot of institutional discrimination exists, and not just against English teachers. Not only that a lot of Japanese professors are also becoming contracted or temporary staff where they were tenured before.
                              You're making a big assumption here KB. Reading between the lines of the OP's posts, I get the feeling he is aware of what you speak of.

                              I'm sure though that you'd hate him to get tenure, given that tenure has eluded you for the last 20 years.

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