Working In Japan


Professional fields, in which qualified foreign residents have a good chance to find work, include translation, IT, modeling, gastronomy and entertainment. Many foreign residents from English speaking countries, work in Japan as language instructors. The demand for native language instructors remains high. Being in Japan while job hunting and Japanese language ability are two keys to increase your chances of finding a job in Japan. Many people working in Japan are employed by foreign companies with branches there, or as teachers of English. It is possible to find a job in Japan if you have skills or attributes that are in demand there. You will need to find an employer who is willing to sponsor your work visa.

There is always a high demand for English language teachers throughout the country, and there are also opportunities to work in other areas requiring English language proficiency, such as journalism or editing work, acting, and voice-overs. There is also a high level of demand for good IT specialists.

Foreign nationals, who wish to engage in paid activities in Japan, require a visa that allows them to work in Japan. It is not permitted to engage in any paid activities on a tourist visa.

There are about a dozen types of working visas, each allowing the holder to engage in paid activities only within a defined professional field, e.g. as an engineer, instructor or entertainer. A job offer in Japan is required to successfully apply for most types of working visas.

Permanent residents of Japan and spouse visa holders (i.e. those married to a Japanese national or permanent resident of Japan) are allowed to engage in any paid activity regardless of the professional field.

Working for a Foreign Company

In recent post-bubble years there has been a significant expansion of business operations by foreign companies into Japan, and there are many job opportunities here, even though there has also been a strong localization trend (replacing expatriate staff with Japanese) at many firms.

Expansion by foreign firms in the computer and software industries has been particularly rapid. Many other industries such as retailing and financial services are also making strong inroads into the Japanese market.

Keep in mind that many foreign companies bring their expatriate staff over from the home office without hiring their compatriots in the Japanese labor market. Depending on the company and the type of job this can be more true or less true. Even though the expatriates brought over by their companies no doubt receive better compensation and benefits packages, the fact is that at least half the foreigners working for foreign companies in Japan were hired in Japan.

Also, that even in 100 percent foreign-owned well known foreign firms, the vast majority of their employees are Japanese, often only with a few foreign management or specialist personnel. Nevertheless, there are thousands of foreign firms in the Japanese market and there are many more thousands of foreigners working for them. It may seem a little difficult at first, but if you take the time to gather information, network, and do a proper job search, you should be able to find yourself in a good career-oriented position with a foreign company.

There are many benefits if you get a job with a foreign company as opposed to working for a Japanese firm. First of all, you will generally be treated as a valuable company asset with a long-term view to the employment. For example, the company will provide training, give you responsibilities and consider you for promotions, as any company rationally should do.

Your pay will be based on your ability and market value, and not on age, whether you are married, number of children, etc., as in a typical Japanese firm. You will also find that you will receive most of your pay in the form of cash as opposed to receiving things like subsidized company housing.

When working for a firm whose management is from a Western culture, it is a lot easier to fit into the job. There will be less cultural conflict, and your employment should generally proceed more smoothly.

On the downside, foreign firms tend toward lean operations. Whether economic conditions change or maybe you find your work not being so highly evaluated, a foreign firm will be much quicker to let you go. Generally speaking, foreign firms are more demanding from a performance point of view.

Along these lines, you may actually find yourself working longer hours at the foreign firm, and with the better compensation/career-track package you will find yourself wanting to prove your worth. Even though it is said that employees at Japanese firms work long hours, ironically this is not often the case with foreigners at these companies.

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