Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Debito packs it in

I was saddened to see that Arudou Debito, scourge of racist onsen-owners everywhere, has basically given up on his employer (a university in Hokkaido) and is looking for a new job.

The basic reason for leaving? Being denied a sabbatical, strung along with a line of bullshit as to the reasons why, and eventually getting to the bottom line: he's not worth anything to the old farts running the place. He's just an English teacher, after all.

I know Debito rubs some people up the wrong way but I have plenty of admiration for the effort he has put in to standing up for his, and others', rights. Moreover, he is the archetypal well-integrated immigrant, fluent in Japanese, with a Japanese (now ex-)wife, children, house, and indeed Japanese citizenship (born a US citizen, David Aldwinckle). If he is still hitting this sort of brick wall at his stage (and it's not as if a year of sabbatical is an unreasonable expectation for an academic after 14 years of service), then really I don't need to waste any more time wondering whether I have a long-term future here. I hope he finds something suitable for his talents (and I second the sentiment in his comments that something more explicitly activist-oriented may be more suitable than more teaching with activism as a side-line).

Incidentally, I was at a book launch party for the IPCC AR4 last week, organised by the Tokyo office of CUP. We were treated to the spectacle of a succession of Japanese researchers basically telling us all about what a wonderful contribution Japan had made to this project. Needless to say, there was no mention of yours truly, cited (along with jules) in 3 chapters and Contributing Author for one, all while employed full-time in a Japanese research institute. I realise that's hardly a big deal and I wouldn't have noticed were it not for the inordinate fuss they made over someone who managed to get his name mentioned on a figure or something. But it did bring it home to me just how much easier it was for us, as complete outsiders to the process, to affect (albeit in a minor way) the outcome of the massive international bureaucratic behemoth that is the IPCC, than it is to have any influence in the institute where we are nominally "Senior Researchers".

Jules was also invited to attend this event (by a senior manager at FRCGC who helped organise it) "as a researcher of Hadley". Yes, after 6 years here, we are still just visiting researchers to some. She didn't have the heart to tell him that she'd only ever been to the Hadley Centre about twice.

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