More shoddy Japanese unit tales emerge

A photo of the interior of what Monique Janse van Rensburg claims is a dilapidated apartment.
A photo of the interior of what Monique Janse van Rensburg claims is a dilapidated apartment. Contributed

MORE English teachers have come forward with stories of dilapidated housing conditions in Japan.

Concerns emerged after Monique Janse van Rensburg claimed she and her colleagues had been harassed, overcharged and forced to live in dilapidated apartments.

Brett Schroffel said he wrote a letter to Toowoomba Regional Council chief executive officer Brian Pidgeon 12 months ago detailing the problems teachers were facing.

"The housing was reaching a crisis point and we were not getting advocacy or action from officers of Toowoomba Regional Council tasked with looking after the program," he said.

"They are well aware of the issues. Many past assistant English teachers and their parents wrote to council officers highlighting the terrible conditions of the apartments and calling for action to address the issue.

"In one report from last year, it was explicitly stated a toilet was leaking raw sewage from a crack in the bowl, but neither the landlord nor anyone in Takatsuki or council did anything to rectify it."

Mr Schroffel also backed up Ms Rensburg's claims that teachers were harassed and threatened.

>> Teacher claims she lives in Land of the Rising Slum

>> Council promises review of Japanese teaching program

Toni Stevens and her husband went on the 20th anniversary council tour to Takatsuki as the friendship group in 2011.

She said the couple met the assistant teachers and learned of the "deplorable conditions".

Ms Stevens said councillors treated the assistant teachers' complaints at that time as a joke and said, "AETs are always complaining".

"The price they pay for that accommodation and the condition it is in is far below Japanese standards and above price.

"They have been living in housing that is sub-standard, in Japanese terms, for many years."

Ms Stevens said the young teachers, who were the face of Australia and Toowoomba in Takatsuki, were denied sick pay, health benefits and tax assistance.

"This is not a holiday for these guys," she said.

Jillian Schroffel saw the apartments on a visit to Japan and said the reports were not exaggerated.

"The apartments were below acceptable standard and not weatherproof or hygienic," she said.

"On my return home, I wrote to a Toowoomba councillor stating my observations and concerns."

The Chronicle has been contacted by a number of other teachers who have worked in Japan who raised similar concerns.

Counter claim on apartments

A MAN who lived in the "dilapidated" Japanese apartment pictured in the article "Teacher claims she lives in Land of the Rising Slum" says it was almost brand new.

Nathan Campbell said that although the apartments were older, they were "nothing you wouldn't find in Australia for four times the monthly rent".

"The apartments were also in a great position, close to shops and transport," he said.

Mr Campbell said he enjoyed his time in Japan so much that he married a teacher from Takatsuki.

He said Japanese who visited Australia had to "work and live in horrible conditions and were treated like rubbish" by Australians in comparison.

"I think these assistant English teachers have been living in Toowoomba mansions and many are fresh university graduates who have no understanding or experience in the real world," he said.

Mr Campbell said the job was essentially a paid holiday.

Topics:  sister city takatsuki toowoomba

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