Houses in Takatsuki City, Osaka, Japan.
Houses in Takatsuki City, Osaka, Japan. David Stuart

Supervisor says exposé on Japan program was good thing

A SUPERVISOR of the Toowoomba Assistant English Teacher program in Takatsuki, Japan, says it is a good thing the "terrible treatment" of teachers has been exposed.

In a letter to The Chronicle, David Rosenfeld said that in spite of what he called "the almost total lack of support from Toowoomba Regional Council and Takatsuki City", and the "terrible housing and disrespectful treatment" related to it, the Toowoomba AET ambassadors were still working hard.

"This year's group faced the most outrageous kind of treatment in the history of this program," he said.

"Yet most of them responded by doing even more cultural exchanges, community work, donating to charities - and of course bringing knowledge and joy to thousands of school kids here in Takatsuki - as well as helping train the schoolteachers of Takatsuki City in English education."

"The AETs have done what they came (to Japan) to do, even though there was no official support, only official neglect or harassment."

The American national said he felt lucky to have met teachers over the past 11 years and that he had gained a huge respect for Australia and its people during that time.

Mr Rosenfeld said Monique Janse van Rensburg, the English teacher who originally exposed the housing issues in Japan, was "in no way acting or speaking alone" on the matter.

He said there were at least six current AETs and other former AETs who would corroborate her story.

Read the full version of Mr Rosenfeld's letter here.

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Japanese testimonies

Former Toowoomba Japanese Group member Fumi Page

  • What surprised me the most was that Toowoomba AETs had no tenancy agreement in Takastuki. They didn't sign anything. That's not right in my country. That is illegal.

One of the eight current Toowoomba AETs living and working in Takatsuki City Tim Westcott

  • My apartment was insecure.. (and) other problems included issues with structural integrity, hygiene, insulation, lighting, and general cleanliness.... Neither the landlord, the Takatsuki International Association, nor Toowoomba Regional Council took our concerns seriously.

Assistant English Teacher for the Takatsuki Sister City program Timothy Marrie

  • The problems with apartments go beyond simple superficial damage. Teachers were exposed to potentially serious health and safety risks... I hope that Toowoomba residents realise how proud they should be of their ambassadors who have continued to work hard, building ties between Toowoomba and Takatsuki.

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