How easy is it to get a job in Japan for foreigners?

Anyone here moved to Japan for the purpose of finding a job on arrival? I want to know if immigrants can easily find a high tech job in Japan. Please, state specifically your major city of residence

Immigrants can not easily find a high tech job in Japan.
I live in Sapporo (2 million people) and have worked in IT 30+ years.
The pay rate is poor and usually you will need a decent level of Japanese.

Perhaps you can find a company like Hitachi etc in your company to join up with in hopes of being transferred to Japan.

If you're married to a Japanese national, that takes care of the working visa issues.

Don't give up - it's not easy - but it's not impossible either.

This is what I've always thought because I watch a Japanese TV station here in the US called NHK World. It's a very interesting station that takes you around Japan. It also takes you into companies in Japan. I have observed that most companies  featured on TV are generally 100% Japanese employees even though there are foreigners living in the country as well.  IT workers are said to be in high demand in Japan. I wonder if it will be a bit easier if you have programming skill, living in Tokyo,  or an experienced engineer?.

I have had that Tokyo has more job opportunities. Hope someone from Tokyo will read this message. Thanks for your honest reply.

It's definitely rare but Japan is slowly opening up. However, Japanese language proficiency is almost always required unless you work in an environment that requires your English language or any other language only instead.

The main reason being that majority of Japanese do not know how to communicate in language other than Japanese. If you know Japanese even at a conversational level, your opportunity window will open so much more wider than you do not speak Japanese at all, let alone at business level.

Most Japanese companies are still hesitant in hiring foreigners. However, there are recruiting companies in Japan that are trying to get more foreigners into the country as well.

In my opinion, it's a right timing now to get in as Japan is largely preparing for the upcoming Olympics. They will require more and more people who can speak other languages. If you do not know Japanese, it's time to come here to study Japanese and immerse yourself to the Japanese language (only way to be proficient in any language). It's weird but some companies aren't willing to hire foreigners who do not possess experience in living in Japan, so you can have that advantage as well should you decide to study Japanese in Japan usually for a year.

You can then look for jobs while you study Japanese language. With that said, it's really up to you if you can afford it. How long can you stay in Japan without a job? And how badly you want it (how much risk you are willing to take)?

I am currently living in Tokyo since last month after getting hired by a Japanese recruiting company but have not found me a suitable job yet. There's really too many factors that will affect the outcome. Sometimes, it's just luck that you get a job or not. So, good luck!

josephting, thanks for all the information, some of which I knew through research and some I just knew from your reply. It's nice to confirm these information from someone who actually lives in Japan. However, the part of your reply where you said " It's weird but some companies aren't willing to hire foreigners who do not possess experience in living in Japan" is very surprising. I've always had 2 strategies in mind about how I'm going to learn Japanese. Either take a 1 year Japanese class here in the US or enter Japan as a Japanese language student and study the  language while I find a job. It's fine if I don't work until after 1 year of studies. I'm guessing it will be cheaper in the US to learn Japanese because it only cost about $600 per quarter times 3. In Japan, it's about $4500 or more a year for the language program. Based on my research, it appears studying in Japan for my Masters will cost as much as studying Japanese.
Thanks again for the information.

Maybe other things to consider are that many Japanese who currently work overseas for big companies like Sony do not really want to come back. This is partly due to the prediction of a major catastrophe soon, in the metropolitan areas which means Tokyo, Yokohama etc. That means earthquake/tsunami. This is a prediction from a government department based on geological information. So whether people choose to believe it is up to them. We know many Japanese both in Japan and overseas Japanese expats and they all talk about this. The Japanese expats do not want to return to Japan in the immediate future. That and a generally worsening economy.

Even when we talk about buying an apartment in Yokohama near to the train station, which is just slightly above sea level, they warn us to choose somewhere on higher ground. At least, bear in mind that tsunamis can reach up to 10m in height and if living in the city choose an apartment on a very high floor. Some Japanese say, when the earthquake starts, get out of the building, then when it stops, go back in and up to the highest part of the building.

Please note that I am not trying to be a scaremonger, this is the general talk among many Japanese at the moment and something of concern to them. Japan is indeed one of the most wonderful places on earth, rich with culture and beauty and actually I am planning to buy a house or home to either rent out  (Airbnb) or to live in, as we consider one day moving there to live.

Another point about Japan is that it has a shrinking population, something that has been going on for years. Many couples choose not to have children, be it the responsibility, the cost, or the thought of bringing up children into a difficult world, and instead many keep a dog or cat. You will see this widespread allover Japan.

But for anyone who wishes to live and work in Japan I would recommend it.

As for studying Japanese in the US or Japan, I would recommend doing an intensive full time one year course in the States. That way you will be able to save on the cost of your studies and arrive in Japan with a good grounding in Japanese. It is best to choose a course that teaches you to read and write kanji (usually includes translation) and you will be well set to begin life in Japan.

One other point, if you take the one year course in the States, check out the possibility of scholarships to continue your studies in Japan. Quite a lot of foreigners study in Japan under a scholarship provided either by their own government of by joint organizations between their own country and Japan. If such scholarships exist, you could end up continuing your studies in a reputable university in Japan.

Anyway, just my two cents worth......

Thanks for the extra information. However, based on your experience living and working in Japan, can you shed some light on the possibility of finding a job easily, assuming I have one year of Japanese intensive training before landing in japan.

Also, I'm wondering if earthquake threat is so bad that a great number of Japanese would prefer to leave japan and live elsewhere around the world.

Hi Mrdrew.

As other posters have highlighted, it is never that easy to find a job in Japan.

It would depend on your past work experience and high tech specialty. I know many foreigners working in the automotive industry at a lots of different fields and one in Nano technology. Others are working for tech companies in marketing and sales. Also, consider why a company would employ a foreigner if a Japanese can do the job, bearing in mind the language problems and the hard working nature (I mean working extremely long hours) of the Japanese. Most of the foreigners I know working in Japan made their job applications from their own country. So I'd say expecting to find a job on arrival to be quite hard. Let me also add that many of the foreigners I know are not western expats, they are Asians who are paid well compared to back home but with a salary that might not interest western expats.

Of course there is always English teaching. If you were prepared to do that it might get you to Japan very quickly, but I assume you want to remain in technology.

As for earthquakes and tsunamis, many rich retired Japanese are indeed moving out of Japan to places like Malaysia where their savings will go a long way and where there are lots of golf courses and a strong Japanese community that includes manufacturing of Japanese electronics. But many cannot afford to move nor want to move.

If you consider all the places in the world where natural catastrophes occur, you don't see an exodus from those places, you only see rebuilding. Otherwise why do people continue to rebuild their homes in Tornado Alley? Why do people continue to move to SF when they know the risks of an earthquake one day.

By the way, you seem set on only Japan. May I ask the reason?

Hanson, appreciate your taking the time to provide all these information. Of course, I wouldn't mind teaching as a second option. However, without actually communication with you and all those who have contributed to this forum, I wouldn't know how difficult my first option would be. By the way, is teaching English the one job that immigrants find easily and I wonder if it pays enough to survive?

As for your question about me been set specifically on Japan, I'm not necessarily set on Japan. However, based on where I've been around the world,  what I know about countries of the world, and based on the fact that I've learnt a lot about Japan through research and through watching Japanese NHK World TV,  Japan is my choice. I was just missing the information about Immigrants and employment in Japan. Exploring the world while learning about countries of the world is one thing I love to do.

I know what you mean about exploring the world as that is something I've spent most of my adult life doing.

If I were in your position and the only thing that really mattered was finding a job in Japan, then I would explore English teaching there. I mean look online for English Language schools in Japan and just email them. Basically, as long as you are a native English speaker and you have that one month English Teaching Certificate, you stand a chance of finding work in the Far East. Some schools prefer experience, but not all do. As for salaries, I know that the pay depends on the school. Some pay pretty alright and some a pittance but offer free accommodation (such as in China). I wouldn't bother with the latter. Also a lot of English teachers learn the local language wherever they live in the world.

Personally I couldn't teach because I don't have the patience or frame of mind for doing a job like that, but I do see it as an adventure and one that would get you overseas.

What I can say from experience is that once you are overseas, you meet people and opportunities seem to find you. You might start off doing one thing and end up doing a completely different kind of job or business.

I know you really want concrete advice to make your move easy, but I am not able to give that, maybe others here can.

Thanks so much. I appreciate it

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