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Tokyo - Employment

There are some 5.9 million people employed in Tokyo – that is 9.5% of Japan's total workforce. In 2005, almost 375,000 new foreigners were granted residency status in Japan, out of which 61% of them were granted a residency status for work. (The rest, mostly tourists and business visitors, do not have permits for work.) Click here for the Annual Report on Statistics on Legal Migrants in Japan (Shutsunyukoku kanri tokei).

You must have a valid residential visa status that permits you to work in Tokyo. If your status of residence is limited to certain types of occupations or industries, you must apply for a change in residential status at the municipal office.

The Tokyo Employment Service Centre for Foreigners is a public employment office specializing in providing non-Japanese residents with assistance on work-related matters. They can provide consultation to both employees and businesses who employ non-Japanese nationals. The centre is supervised by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan. The centre is located at 1st Basement, Roppongi Job Park, 3-2-21, Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032 and they are open Mondays through Fridays 830am to 515 pm. Tel: 03-3588-8639 or email Interpretation services in English, Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese are available. The website provides useful information about working and finding employment in Japan, and has contacts and locations of other Hello Work Offices in Tokyo and Japan in general.

There are minimum wages, mandatory rest days and paid annual leave (for employees with at least 6 months of continuous service) that are mandatory by Japan's labor law.

There are several unique characteristics of the work culture in Japan. The Japanese culture place a heavy emphasis on hierarchy (age and position/authority). It is important for the Japanese to know how to place you in an appropriate hierarchy relative to their organization. There is also a heavy emphasis on harmony and politeness in all dealings, be it personal or business. When setting up a first appointment, it is useful to volunteer an information package of your company and your personal portfolio prior to meeting them. After the first appointment, investing time and effort (e.g. being a good correspondent during festivals and gift giving) to develop personal relationships is also important. Business cards are always exchanged with ceremony. The Japanese has a preference for broad agreements based on mutual understanding so that issues or problems that creep up can be handled flexibly and in a non-confrontational manner.

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