Japan remains a popular choice among expat workers: it is prosperous, safe, and has an interesting culture. But how easy is it to find work in this Asian nation? Japan currently has a shortage of workers, due in part to an ageing population, and is hiring overseas personnel to address this in a number of sectors. Teaching English remains a popular choice and can be lucrative, depending on your qualifications and experience, but there are a number of other sectors, such as IT, in which the country is booming. You will therefore find a number of opportunities if you are aiming to find work in the region and we will look at some of these options below.You will need a work visa, but this is obtainable if you have an offer of a job. Working holiday visas are available, but not for US citizens and not if you are seeking work employment in bars, nightclubs, or gambling establishments.
It is not legal to work without a visa if you are outside the ‘permitted’ categories (for example, if you are not married to a Japanese national or if you do not have permanent residency). You can be deported and your employer may be fined.
There are currently 2 kinds of working visa: Two types of visa are available, namely the Specified Skills Visa 1- SSV1 and Specified Skills Visa 2- SSV2.
the SSV1 is for a period of five years and will allow for limited renewals (note that you will not be allowed to bring family members in on this visa)
the SSV2 (beginning in 2021: this will allow holders to bring family members in and can be renewed indefinitely)
If you are applying a work visa, you will need:
• a passport
• a completed visa application form
• an up-to-date police clearance record
• your CV/resume
• 1 x photo
You will also need a Certificate of Eligibility (this is proof that you fulfill all the requirements of the job). Your employer will need to complete this on your behalf but you will need to take it to the local department of immigration. To apply for a COE you will need:
• 1 x passport photo
• a signed work contract
• copy of your qualifications
• the address of your nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General
• dates of your previous visit to Japan (if applicable)
If you have lived in Japan for over 10 years, you may apply for permanent residency (eijyuken; 永住権) and this will mean that you are able to work without the need for a work permit.
The JET programme, which is a joint Japanese/English teaching programme, is still going strong and if you are interested in teaching English in Japan you may like to explore this option.
Although TEFL is a major contributor to employment, there are also opportunities for qualified personnel in the tech industry, engineering, investment banking and other sectors. There is also work available for translators and interpreters.
Bilingual personnel are in demand, so if you speak Japanese, you will have an advantage, particularly if you are working for a local rather than an international company.
Typical working hours in Japan are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. or 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Average working hours per week are currently set at 40 hours. Japan also has flexi-time working hours. Overtime is available: in practice Japan has very high working hours, however, and there are efforts to decrease these.
Full time employees are guaranteed a minimum 10 days of paid annual leave per year after serving an initial 6 months of employment. This may rise to 18 days after a longer period of employment. Japan currently has 12 days of public holidays to which you will be entitled, although employers are not obliged to pay you for these.
Maternity leave will cover you for 6 weeks prior to giving birth and 8 weeks after. Your maternity leave will be paid out of social security and labor insurance. There is also an option for paternity leave.
The average hourly minimum wage in Japan is currently ¥874 ($8.20).
If you are a non-Japanese national who is married to a Japanese national or permanent resident of Japan, you will be eligible to apply for a spouse visa (haigusha; 配偶者) and engage in paid work while in Japan. A spouse visa is normally renewable after 3 years. Note that if you are not a Japanese national or permanent resident, your spouse will not be granted an automatic right of employment and in addition, if you have a SSV1 visa, you will not be able to bring your spouse into the country.
You may wish to apply to a recruitment agency. There are a number of online jobs boards covering vacancies in Japan.
It is recommended that you apply for work before you arrive in Japan, because the cost of living is quite high and you will need sufficient funds to cover your stay.
You can also apply to Japanese companies directly.
Applying For A Job
It is recommended that you have your CV/resume translated into Japanese.
Men and women are equal under Japanese law. It is not legal to discriminate against someone on the basic of disability. Anti-discrimination is also in place to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Qualifications And Training
It is recommended that you get any certificates or diplomas translated into Japanese and, to be on the safe side, have your qualifications apostilled.
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