He first joined Gaba in October 2008, quickly rising to president just 5 months later. His claim to fame? A Supermarket chain called Nagasakiya. In 2000, Nagasakiya, despite reducing labor costs by hiring mostly part-time and temporary staff, was forced to declare bankruptcy under crushing debt to shield itself from creditors. Kamiyama kept the company afloat by closing over fifty of its stores, and laying off over a thousand employees. In a 2008 statement to staff and instructors at Gaba, Kamiyama said, “recent trends in our profitability have begun to look problematic, if left to continue.” And that he would “refocus and rebuild our cost structure.” Specifically mentioning “freezing new employee hiring as well as cutting certain types of unnecessary and/or inefficient spending.” At the end of the statement, he decided to throw in a promise, that the plan would “not significantly impact individual Itaku instructors at Gaba”. But events seem to prove otherwise. What has impacted individual instructors is the freezing of belt-ups, the strict cap Gaba places on belt levels C1 thru D2, and the systematic debelting of belted instructors over the past year, clearly a result of the new plan. Classifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees to avoid paying employment benefits is apparently not enough. Gaba must now cut certain types of “inefficient” spending; like lesson rates, belt levels and the ability to receive a raise in pay. What Kamiyama sees on a spreadsheet as a quantitative and disposable “labor expense” is the collective total of each and every one of our efforts and salaries. Let’s ensure that any cuts are not at the expense of instructors.