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Friday, 25 October 2013

Relocating to Japan for Employment

Japan has survived a tsunami, earthquake and a global recession, and yet it still makes the list of the best countries in the world to relocate to for employment.

Job Market

Currently, Japan's job market is very competitive. For foreign workers searching for a job in Japan, it is almost essential for them to have an excellent command of Japanese and English in order to do well in the workplace.

Proficiency in Japanese, combined with specialist knowledge, a good education and work experience will significantly increase your chances of landing a top job in Japan . Without knowledge of Japanese, your only realistic option to work in the country would be to teach English.


One of the biggest issues in obtaining a work visa is that a Japanese company must sponsor you, and what with the hassle involved in obtaining permits and hiring non-local staff, many companies avoid hiring international candidates.

Major industries of employment (if you can speak both English and Japanese)

  • IT
  • Business
  • Finance
  • Translation
  • Electronics
  • Robotics
  • Communications
  • Food processing
  • Chemicals
  • Motor vehicles
  • Nano and biotechnology
  • Alternative energy

Living and working in Japan

The most popular city for employment is Tokyo, which is also the country's capital city. Other popular locations for employment amongst expats include Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and Kobe.

Many expats from across the globe relocate to Japan in order to work for some of the world's largest companies, including Sony, sharp, Hitachi, Toyota and Canon (all of which are operational from Japan).

Working conditions in Japan are generally very high, especially in some of the big multinational companies operating there. However, employees are often known to work very long hours.

Essentially, it depends on the type of job you have, the company you work for and the level at which you are employed. If you are a manager, you can expect to receive good benefits and work more favorable hours, however, if you are working in a non-skilled, labour intensive job, then you may end up working 60 hours per week!

With regards to holidays, employees receive a minimum of 2 weeks paid leave each year.

Work Permits

If you are a foreign national and you want to relocate to Japan for work purposes, you must apply to your Japanese embassy or consulate for the appropriate work permit. The type of work permit you require varies according to the type of job and length of intended stay in Japan. However, all applicants seeking a Japanese work permit must satisfy the criteria of being highly skilled and qualified, and able to fulfill the requirements of the job.

It should be noted that in order to qualify for a work permit, you first need to obtain sponsorship from an employer in Japan, and a formal offer of employment is necessary. Work permits are valid for up to 3 years, and extendable thereafter.

Business etiquette in Japan

Business etiquette in Japan is based on loyalty, manners, and respect. Education, ambition, and determination are highly regarded, especially in the workplace. When meeting business professionals it is appropriate to provide a soft handshake and most Japanese businessmen/women will avoid eye contact when doing so. It is important to be aware of the customs in Japan, as many people will greet each other with a bow. It is considered rude to stare at another person and, unlike many other countries, prolonged eye contact should be avoided.

Punctuality is very important in the workplace and it is always advised to arrive early for meetings. Speaking Japanese is greatly appreciated and will show you are making a conscious effort to integrate.

Courtesy: Alexandra Konavska


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