Working in Japan

working in japanExpats working in Japan once had the privilege of participating in the world's second-largest economy. Since mid-2010, Japan has been surpassed by China and is now the world's third-largest economy: still an impressive feat for a comparatively small island.

Nevertheless, the Japanese economy has remained sluggish since the bubble burst in 1990; but despite higher rates of unemployment and falling wages, expats can still obtain enviable positions with many of the multi-national corporations, or find work in the industry that has remained extremely popular with young Westerners for years - teaching English.

Additionally, the entertainment, hospitality, and manufacturing sector continue to offer work to expats, with no need of fluency in Japanese required. Translation work for those that do have knowledge of Japanese is also a popular expat profession, especially for those trailing spouses and partners who have followed their loved ones abroad.

Expats planning on working in Japan should note that the country claims one of the highest costs of living worldwide, and for this reason, it is advisable to carefully negotiate your salary package.

In recent years, Japan's economic landscape has been remodelled by deregulation, the rise of the Internet and an increasing number of foreign companies establishing either headquarters or bases on the island. Despite this apparent integration, the traditional Japanese business etiquette remains largely intact, and still poses one of the the greatest acclimatisation challenges for expats working in Japan.

Corporate culture in Japan is quite formal, with very long office hours and lifetime employment the norm. After-hours drinking with the boss is still an established practice. Furthermore, the concepts of genki, gambatte and group - the three vertices of the "can do" attitude - are often exhausting and frustrating to foreign nationals.

Though freshly arrived expats are not expected to adhere to the regularly practised 60-hour work week, or to the mandatory post-work socialising hours, acting differently from your co-workers and being held to separate expectations can often work to further an expat's feeling of isolation.

It is necessary to have a working visa to work in Japan.

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