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Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/21 08:42
Is it truly that bad (having to work overtime for free every day, being at risk of being moved around very often, having to avoid taking any vacation days)? And is it true that women are forced to wear contacts instead of glasses and are expected to always go to work with high heels? Or are these things mostly related to "Black companies"?
by apprehensivefella  

Re: Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/21 09:22
Do you intend to work in a fully Japanese corporate environment where nothing has changed since the late 1990's?

Is it possible that places like this still exist? Yes

Is it the majority of workplaces in Japan? Probably not....
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/21 11:17
I'm not sure where you got that information from, but if there are companies like that, most people don't like working in them. Times have changed still the 80's and 90's for work ethic. Sure, maybe some companies might do similar things, but not everything you're describing. Working in Japan, the office ladies wear rather business casual clothing, can have glasses, and isn't super strict like how you're mentioning.

I guess it's all on stereotypes that people hear about or see in movies, but things do change over time and Japan doesn't feel that way, despite having a stricter work ethic compared to other countries.
by Motti15 rate this post as useful

Re: Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/21 13:23
Depends on the company.
Subsidiaries of foreign companies in Japan have very nice working environments, and foreign companies usually have to observe labor laws more strictly; not to mention they generally have global rules with limits bullying and harassments, etc.
Large top tier Japanese firms generally are good as well with some exceptions
For small mid-sized Japanese firms, you really start seeing more companies with worse conditions

Either way, in my times in Japanese firms, bullying from older employees to younger employees is unfortunately very common. Hearing someone being screamed at is almost a daily occurrence. I didn't stay long there but I think many people simply are afraid of leaving.
For younger female employees, being touched/harassed by older co-workers in nomikais is also not uncommon.
by r (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/21 15:27
I believe this a related for each company.

I am working for a Japanese company as only foreigner.
The company is conservative but good to work for.
Payment is good, people are nice, have changes to travel outside Japan, overwork time is minimal, weekends off.

But true that international companies can be better but there are also local companies who are willing to change.
by justmyday rate this post as useful

Re: Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/21 20:06
Are you curious about how things are in general among the average Japanese workers, or are you a non-Japanese person interested in finding work in Japan?

Either way, I'm a female Japanese resident who has been working since the late '80s, and I personally don't know anyone who has told me (s)he is/has been working overtime for free on a daily basis. All people I know who have worked overtime have been paid for, and that includes part-timers. There is a law against free overwork, and if the employer doesn't obey the law, that employer would be considered "black".

I'm not sure about your definition of "often", but there are jobs that require moving and jobs that don't require moving at all. Actually, I wonder if you're asking about being "forced" to move with "short" notice. In any case, families of U.S. military are also forced to move around frequently, so I'm not sure if being moved around is unique to jobs in Japan. There are quite a few "nomads" on this planet, and I grew up being one of them.

A lot of people in Japan do hesitate to take vacations, because the work "flow" is not designed to take weeks off at any given period. That's why, nowadays, many companies literally force you to take vacations. But due to circumstances, Japanese vacations are usually no longer than a few days, which is why tourism gets overcrowded during those ten-day national holidays.

I've never spoken to a women who is/has been forced to wear contacts instead of glasses at work. The internet does tells me, however, that they do tend to exist in places such as department store information counters, hotels and beauty clinics. On the other hand, I do know that a lot of ladies at our local post office counters and supermarket cashiers wear glasses. Interpreters wear glasses on TV, too, standing next to foreign celebrities who don't wear glasses.

No woman is expected to go to work in high heels. But as it is in many countries, a lot of women are forced to wear heels (not always "high") at work. Flight attendants are an example. In the '80s, people in New York and Tokyo used to wear sneakers to work and then change to heels once they arrive at the office. I remember a female New Yorker on TV saying that she's okay with that. But today, there is awareness about banning heels even at work, because after all, you need to be wearing them for most of the day.

By the way, the government has been quite successful at promoting "hataraki-kata kaikaku" (reform of working practices). So, is working in Japan really that hard? I've never been employed overseas, but I've been okay with working in Japan for Japanese companies. I know it's quite "different" from how other countries are, and, of course, there still is a lot to deal with, but I hope I have answered all your questions.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/21 21:45
I am a European, female working in a Japanese mid-size company in a director role.

Overtime: yes, there is overtime, but it depends on the project. I have previously worked many years in Spain and some years in Germany. I would say that overtime in Japan isn't that different from the situation in Spain. In Germany (and probably some other more Nordic countries) there is more a culture of finishing work at 17:00 and have little overtime.
Is overtime paid?, this depends, similar to the situation in Germany and Spain on your level of contract. In my position, no, overtime is not paid, but I also don't need to be at work at 9:00 precisely. This was the same in Spain as well, and if I'd be working in Germany (or the US) would also be the same.
However yes, our secretary, her overtime is paid, each single minute of it. There is a time registration system that records exactly when you come and leave and if you have a contract not at a manager or higher position, your overtime hours are paid. As Uco said, there is a law for that.

Being moved around (= Tenkin): I have seen some people at our company being moved, but again this was at a director level. I have the impression that at these levels this is the same worldwide. But yes, there is an expression in Japanese for Weekend marriages because sometime men (normally not the women) would get moved by their company and just get home on the weekends. Women (with children) would normally stay were they originally were... and frequently men would take up a concubine at their new location... (but well, these same men might have a lover in their home town too).

Contact lenses: no, in offices I wouldn't say that there is any policy written or not, against glasses. There was a story in the news a few months ago about some shop or so, that required contact lenses, so that's where you might have gotten the idea from. But no, I wouldn't say that contact lenses in Japan are more common for women than e.g. in EU, where they are also quite common. (Something I never understood, as I really like my glasses).

Hair dyeing: you didn't ask, but actually there is a policy (probably not written) against dyeing your hair. I.e. until a certain shade of brown it is acceptable, but blond (unless obviously you are a foreigner and naturally or even dyed) blond, is generally not acceptable. I don't think this policy is written anywhere, but de facto, you see very few women with blond dyed hair. And the ones you see are either students or work in very relaxed environments. Obviously black dye is okay. And some men, even in the business environment, are dyeing their hair in a very questionable red to try to hide their grey hair.

High heels: well, actually in the office most people wear slippers, often quite old ones. But yes, for client appointments very neat clothing and this MAY include for women high heels is frequently seen. I personally never wear high heels and would feel even stranger, as I already tower above most of my colleagues (just having average EU female hight probably). But again, there is no written or un-written rule in my company about heel hight for women. It just kind of comes with the business attire. Not so different from places like Spain/Italy, where business attire is also more formal in general than in Northern Europe.

Tattoos or piercings: Tattoos are generally very much frowned upon in Japan, and many places (beaches, onsen) don't allow you to enter with a tattoo. So yes, if you would have a visible tattoo, that would be a major problem in a Japanese company. This doesn't mean that no Japanese has tattoos. Just saw a lady in a sento last weekend, but it is really rare. I think in about 5 years of going very regularly to onsen, I have only seen 2 ladies with a tattoo.
Piercings, is pretty much the same and seen very rarely. (I am actually not even sure about ear piercing. I am trying to remember now... but I would say it is much less common than e.g. in Spain, where most baby girls get ear piercing within a few days of being born!) I am pretty sure this doesn't happen in Japan. But I guess that a small pearl earring would be acceptable, but it isn't really common.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/22 00:25
Thank you, LikeBike, for the clarifications. You're absolutely right. Let me just add to that.

In my position, no, overtime is not paid...same in Spain...

That's true. Managers are not paid for overwork. The theory is that managers are supposed to make sure that his/her workers go home on time, and if they cannot, it would be the managers' responsibility.
Just to add, it is against the law to assign "manager-like" positions such as maybe "Leader" just to cut off the person's overtime payment.

there is an expression in Japanese for Weekend marriages

I feel that this has more to do with the fact that Japanese wives prefer not to have their children be transferred to different schools, and that homeschooling is not the first priority for most families. Another thing is that, nowadays, most wives have their own jobs to commute to, and they wouldn't want to give up their careers to go live with her transferred husbands.

Furthermore, even if you don't have a secret lover, job transfer can sometimes be a good excuse to get away from family-related frustration. Husband, wife and kids (especially adolescent) can live happily separately without even getting a divorce. So, families living together or not has both good sides and bad depending on how you look at it.

By the way, the "Japanese hair must be black" expectation is much more of a problem at schools rather than the workplace, and there is a big awareness to prevent that, too, with the government leading it. For the record, a lot of Japanese people are born with very light brown hair, and some with blonde hair, even though there have been no white ancestors to them for generations. Most of the time, schools and workplaces accept them as they are.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/22 17:37
My friend working in Japan for the last 2 years and he said to me Japan is a good place for living and working also, he is very happy in Japan
by ninaholm rate this post as useful

Re: Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/22 23:39
some with blonde hair, even though there have been no white ancestors to them for generations.
Really? Could you tell us the percentage of such people? I've never seen one.
by .. (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Is working in Japan really that hard? 2020/2/23 01:46
I don't know the percentage of natural blonde Japanese people, and they're not exactly for show or statistics, but if you insist on "seeing" them you can Google Image 生まれつき金髪の日本人
by Uco rate this post as useful

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