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Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 00:32
Hi guys, I visit Japan annually but I'd love to actually move here someday, hopefully permanently - I've looked up the various visa options, but was wondering what people would think the best route/plan for me would be (seems like there are various options, all quite complex).

About me:
- 25 years old, Asian female
- fluent English, very basic Japanese (aiming to learn)
- two bachelors degrees: law and arts
- non-practicing lawyer
- government employee, 1 year exp
- current income about $52k AUD per annum after tax
- Singapore citizen, Australian permanent resident

Is teaching English and working my way up from there really my best option? How important is it that I become fluent in Japanese? How about working for a foreign company in Japan? Would love to hear any thoughts.
by Kel (guest)  

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 10:39
My first question is why you want to give up a good life you have with your current skills to teach English in Japan?
You can try to enter japan based on your skills, to do so you need a sponsor.

If you really want to teach English there are many other better countries paying much more.

by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 11:16
No good cutting your pay in half to teach English in japan. I'd research a higher qual job that will pay you better money.
by hakata14 rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 11:21
I echo the opinion of justmyday. While Singaporean speak good English, even tho with singhlish words and accent, you will be considered not native English speaker
Also unfortunately being Asian and female would mean having a glass ceiling for your career
Unless you have strong reasons to run away from Australia or Singapore, I do not suggest moving to Japan

As a matter of fact, a lot of Japanese your age would love swapping your life in Australia :) wish it was possible to swap lives....
by .... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 11:38
My main reason for wanting to move is because I'm pretty much in Australia for work and nothing else - I grew up in East Asia and am certain that is where I ultimately belong, work is easy and pay is good in Aussie but nothing beats how modern things are back home. (And the food variety!) it's just not for me in the long term.

I don't want to teach English - it's just what everyone keeps telling me to! I just want to move back to east Asia to live and work, and Singapore isn't an option for various reasons. My other option is Shanghai, but I have to say I've just spent much more time in Japan and I like it/am used to it.

Has anyone tried being employed by international companies based in Japan? Considering I'm a working professional (trilingual, if I bring my language skills up to scratch), it's an option I'm considering, but doesn't seem like a path well travelled.

Sorry for the lengthy reply but a lot of you guys asked for my reasons haha. Also, would being Asian really be a problem in Japan re: glass ceilings? That surprises me.

by Kel (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 11:54
And than you move to Japan where work is more important than life.

If you really want to give Japan a try than you need to start and find sponsors.
You can try to attend job searching etc. to find a sponsor.

But you seem young with 25 years and there are many competitors out there who have the same goal.

I do not want to be negative just want to be realistic. I am living in Japan for several years and it is really not that easy. Multi national companies often do expat work or try to get the best high skilled employee.

Again I do not know your personal situation, but if I had the change and could do over I would defiantly look for other countries which are much better.
by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 12:04
Okay, so a sponsor for a multinational company is probably the best bet. I'm guessing it would be tough to get one from abroad - any recommended paths to take? Naturally I expect the competition to be fierce.

I'm prepared for work being more important than life - that's how it was where I grew up. East Asia in general is like that and I've accepted it as the price to pay if I want to return.

Out of curiosity, is there a particular reason everyone is advising me so strongly to look elsewhere because of the work culture (cf other forum posters who don't get the warnings)? I'm just wondering if there's something about my personal circumstances that warrants this (age, Aussie work culture, etc).
by Kel (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 13:12
The only reason is that payment in Japan is low if you do not find the right job.
For example in China, Taiwan or other countries the payment is much higher.

I do not mean you should not come, just you need to consider well that life in Japan is not that easy.
Without proper connections you can end up doing factory work, English work or any other work which payment is cheap.

So far most foreigners in Japan quiet because of this reason.
by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 13:26
Hi Kel,

I want to stress, I have never personally lived in Japan, but I have had many friends who have, some more successfully than others.

I suspect people are trying to convince you against moving to Japan because the vast majority of foreigners who move to Japan, come as English teachers and the pay for English teachers is ~1/2 your current salary. The hours and working conditions can be miserable and there are always more foreigners who want to come to Japan to replace you. If you're really lucky and are fluent in Japanese, you might be able to after several years get a job in an actual school (vs. an eikawa) and make a salary similar to your current one, but that will be it. There won't be any real promotions or raises. I know one person who made the jump to a private school to get a salary similar to your current one and one person who made it into public school, but they live in Wakayama and I believe have a Japanese spouse. Perhaps figure out if you can get some sort of degree so you can teach University level classes in Japan? I have a friend who does that and it seems much more stable. I have a few friends who parlayed JET experience into jobs outside of teaching, but I think they also had some luck involved. I think it is just hard as a foreigner to get a job in Japan with advancement potential unless you are coming in with a foreign company, in which case you might not stay long term in Japan.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 15:45
hi Kel,

here's my advice. If you truly want to come to japan, there are ways. please don't let people put you off with comments like "it's very difficult", "living here is not easy", "i would stay where you are", and more. a big chunk of the expat community in japan is here just out of passion and love for the country, not because they're making big bucks, and they adapt, and they're fine. Some of them eventually get to make good careers here, so that means you can also do it.

anyway, based on your profile, here are my comments.

do japanese companies hire only the best of the best from abroad? Not true, you don't have to be a genius or to have 3 phd's, just to meet the basic job requirements and have a decent resume. In your case, honestly, I think 1 year is too little, so companies are most likely to prefer local newly grads. Also, I don't see much of a chance doing a law job here, because well, you know that law is very relative to the country and requires different knowledge. Also, I honestly don't know but I would believe that law jobs require a very, very good command of japanese. Sure, you can learn, but it does take time to get to a level in which you can fully use it for work. People studying in Japan usually need about 2-3 years being full time students... so that gives you an idea.

Anyway, there are more options, but I would probably focus more on the arts degree. There's a lot of creative work done in Japan. I don't know what experience you have here, but what about targeting the marketing departments of international companies, for example? Another good, but less explored path are the internships. They're still not as common in Japan, but I can tell you that recently a lot of companies are opening internship programs and the requirements are much more relaxed. They are not well paid, you'll have to live in a sharehouse and budget your money, but it's only a step for you to find a full time position later. Make a list of companies that you're interested in and look for internships in their career websites.

The last resort is to become an english teacher, but if you must go this way, my recommendation is that you try to move out of it no later than one year or you run the risk of getting stuck and permanently damaging your career. Then no one will want to hire you for anything that is not for english teaching, not to say that at home your resume won't impress any employer. By the way, lots of singaporean english teachers here... schools many times will take even non-natives.

You also have the option to come here as a master degree student, but be aware that companies here don't put enough value on it, so they just see it as a 2-3 year gap in your resume. Stay too long there, and your only choice will be to continue with a phd and then maybe to become a research professor or something. if academics are your thing, then try to get a monbukagakusho.

anyway, just some ideas, hopefully one of them will fit you
by burrito (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 16:12
Please mention that often working in Japan as English teacher means a contract of 29 hours but working full time. This means no advantages such as health care etc. which you need to arrange your own. There are English schools which are good but OP needs to check the contract twice before enrolling as teacher.

Another fact that internship is easy is partially true but still it is internship which means you can be exit also when needed. In Japan internships do not have a high status. Of course pending on the company.

For law there are companies which are looking for employees who studied international law.

And if you read well I am not being negative just being realistic, because many people leave Japan or get desperate because it was not the expectation they had. So please do not misplace my post.

by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 16:56
Please mention that often working in Japan as English teacher means a contract of 29 hours but working full time

Well, I never mentioned being an english teacher was super easy, in fact I said it's the last resort. It's an option though, I mean, if OP really wants to come....

Another fact that internship is easy is partially true but still it is internship which means you can be exit also when needed

Yes, internships are rare in Japan, and as I mentioned, they are not well paid. Many companies use internships as a way of preparing people towards a future full-time position, but it is not guaranteed, so if at the end they don't hire you, basically your Japan adventure is over. I agree there's is a risk.

For law there are companies which are looking for employees who studied international law.

As I said, I'm not an expert in the topic, but if what you say is true, then it's good news for OP.

And if you read well I am not being negative just being realistic

See, the thing is that you should just let people do their own choices. She did not ask "is Japan a nice place to live in?", "is everything super easy and kawaii over there?", "will I be happier in Japan than in my current country?". She asked how, with her current skills, she could make it to Japan and it seems like you just want to test her will by being overly "realistic". You start by saying the ugly side of the story, but now mention that there's actually a demand for people that studied international law.....
Japan is not a impossible puzzle, please do not underestimate people's capacity to succeed on their own.
by burrito (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 17:45
Hi Kel
I donft know why this thread has taken such a pessimistic turn. You have your personal reasons to want to come to Japan and they seem sound enough. You are also, compared to other people on this forum (people who ask about how to move to Japan) in a much better situation. You have at least two possible avenues how to come:
- with a work visa based on your university degrees (doing some job that is NOT teaching)
- as an English teacher
And, if you want to life long term in Japan and have the means you might also consider to come as language student initially and study Japanese to perfection in about 1.5-2 years. This requires money but you are allowed to work part time. And it will be a good basis for long term living in Japan.

Many people (including Japanese ) assume that as a foreigner you can alone work as a teacher. But that is not true. I donft know the statistics but it might be that most foreigners from English speaking countries do work as teachers. Teaching jobs might be easier to find than gnormal g jobs and it has the advantage that it gets you into Japan initially. Then you can search here for other jobs (and change the visa).

For big international companies you should just look on their webpage for job postings, potentially also in other Asian countries, as sometimes job location can be flexible.

For Japanese companies, I donft know what exactly is your experience, but you might look into recruitment companies. I see a lot of young foreigners working at them (I see them through LinkedIn where they try to convince me of a new job for an other Japanese company). A high level of Japanese does not seem to be required.

If you speak other languages, eg Chinese that can also be a plus.

All the best for your job hunting in Japan!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Best options for moving to Japan? 2018/1/29 23:25
Hi Kel,

I can't make too many comments about your exact predicament but wanted to make some general comments which you take as a grain of salt.

I'm an actual teacher (Science/Math) who has worked in mainly northern asia for the past decade (Japan, Taiwan, China and Kazakhstan - don't ask about the last one). I understand your wanting to come to Japan so I won't make any negative comments about that. The vast majority of students I teach are western expats (I strangely see north asian parents as western - specifically in China) so understand what is required to get a job overseas.

You mentioned that Shanghai is an option, but I think there are many other more positive options that may be possible. Have you thought of Korea or Taiwan? Both countries have better air than Shanghai, have food security and are places much more like Singapore. Potentially speaking Chinese and English may be an in for some companies which can be a rather unique skill if your outside of the Chinese speaking world (Taiwan, Singapore, China) and may be your in for Japan.

The comment of finding a sponsor or niche is something to look at. You will not be able to easily do anything with Japanese law (it's totally different than the Australian / English system) but could being an expert for a Japanese company that works in Singapore / Australia be a possibility for law?

On a total segway - I'm Australian (living near Shanghai) and will be moving to Singapore in a couple of months...
by mfedley rate this post as useful

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