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Working experience in Japan? 2008/1/10 10:44
Hello there,
I'm (32) living and working in Japan for almost 2 1/2 years (as an engineer). My working visa expires in 6 months and I can not decide if I should stay here by extending my visa or leave.
I work in a very small company with only japanese staff. When I came here everybody was friendly to me, but things are quite different now. I have become like the "exotic pet" of the company. Means it is good to have me here, but I feel that they don't really need at all. Sometimes I feel like I am beeing "bulled" by them. Of course, the bulling is maybe not intentionaly, but beeing ingnored and excluded from the companies business makes me feel bad and very sad at the same time. I really like this country and its people and I was so happy to got the chance to come here for working and living..but things have become very difficult in my working place now.
This year I wanted to restart learning japanese but unfortunately I do not find any motivation for doing that.
Has anybody runned through a similar experience? Any comment or suggestion will be appreciated! Thanks to all in advance.
by Rakuda  

Japan 2008/1/10 13:04
As a foreigner in Japan you will always be on the outside a bit in most situations- this is not always a bad thing!

The more Japanese you speak, the easier it is to be accepted as a normal member of that group- for me that would be a major motivation to continue my Japanese studies.
by Sira rate this post as useful

. 2008/1/10 13:17
If you like to stay in Japan I would stay, but its up to you.

Have you looked at other companies to work for?
by John rate this post as useful

Thanks Sira & John 2008/1/10 14:07
Thanks for your replays. Perhaps speaking more japanese opens also more doors, I agree with that.
Looking for a job in a different company might be very difficult since I came to Japan because of my engineering skills and not because of my lenguage skills.
My actual employer wasn't so much interested in me to learn japanese. So I guess that this issue was left completly up to me. I do not wonder for feeling isolated, but the company should share also some responability on that.
by Rakuda rate this post as useful

job 2008/1/10 21:53
Like you I worked in a small, traditional manufacturing company as an engineer for 5 years. I started off not speaking any Japanese, but was quite fluent by the time I left. There were various things about that company that didn`t agree with me, including lack of career advancement, so I started looking for other job possibilities. I applied online through one of the major recruiting sites and got a job with a large automotive maker in Japan. Being able to speak both english and Japanese certainly helped in the interview process and as an appeal point.

I have been working at my new company for about 5 months now. It is true that the grass isn`t always green on the otherside of the pasture, and there are things that bother me about this company just as there were things that bothered me at my previous company. It is all a matter of finding a good balance.
by engineer rate this post as useful

job 2008/1/10 22:12
One more thing. This is just from personal experience, but if I were you I would renew your visa with your current employer(ie. keep working for another 6 months). This is if you are planning to switch jobs. Only having 6 months to find and start a new job is a bit tight. You don`t want to end up having your visa run out while you are still looking.
by engineer rate this post as useful

Thanks engineer 2008/1/11 09:09
Thank you so much! I'am happy to hear about your experience. Same as you one of my the biggest concerns is the career advancement. No chance at all in my actual situation.
I will take your advice and thanks agian for your comments!
by Rakuda rate this post as useful

Try harder. Or... just relax. 2008/1/11 10:37
if you like most of the things around you when you step outside the office doors, then definitely stay. No matter where you're from, if you liked living in Japan, the transition back is not going to be easy on the mind and soul. So it's very likely that you'll have regrets for a while!

So you've been at that place for only 2.5 years? And as you admit your Japanese is not exactly on par with natives? And it's a small company as well? All right, the truth is you've gotten pretty far, I'm not joking either! There are many(Japanese included) who can only dream of being in your situation.

Considering your work environment, you must become as good a speaker as your co-workers. Only then you'll be able to figure out if this company can (and most importantly) wants to utilize your full potential, or for some reason simply needs(and, luckily for you, can afford) a pricey ''decoration''.

I'll say this again, if you like Japan - stay! You don't know what kind of job awaits you once you get back. ''Exotic pet'' in Japan is not the worst fate that can be dealt to a human! Work is a necessary evil, so it's best to be in a situation where you can get the greatest return for the least amount of energy expanded:). Meditate on this, stay and enjoy the life outside the office!
by koguma rate this post as useful

How to look for work? 2008/1/11 11:21
To Rakuda, and engineer:

How did you guys start out in Japan as an engineer without knowing Japanese?

How can one find an engineering job in Japan, are there are recruiting places that recruit for foreigners?

I am just interested because when I was in university I did a student exchange to Japan and its so interesting in terms of technology with so many new things coming out all the time!
by cdn engineer rate this post as useful

To koguma 2008/1/11 12:53
Thank you koguma!
Yes I am fully aware of my luckiness for this great opportunity. I have never stopped thinking about that too. I know many people would not complain like i do.

Any transition hasn't been easy. This is already my third one and a fourth one will be also very energy consuming. I know this, and that makes me also think more.

No, unfortunately this company does not want to use my full potential, because this interferes with their own interests. My position has been from the beginning a real pricey decoration. I didn't want anyway to give up so fast and I told to myself that at least I should try hard for 3 years and see how things deveolpe.

And as for "it's best to be in a situation where you can get the greatest return for the least amount of energy expanded", this maybe right for many, but I still want to feel proud of my working. Maybe when I get older I will change my mind, but now, I just want to go home with a real otsu kare sama deshita and not a fake one :-)

by Rakuda rate this post as useful

To cdn engineer 2008/1/11 13:02
Well, I guess that lucky is a keyword, but also you have to search and search for such job opportunities. I find my current job on the internet (back in Europe).

In my case I was trasfered from the headquaters in Europe to the subsidiary in Japan. Means it was not directly from Japan.
by Rakuda rate this post as useful

to cdn engineer 2008/1/11 18:49
Like you, I came to Japan when I was still as student on an internship program for half a year (maybe even the same program??). Once the program ended, I graduated from university and then started work at the company that I had done my internship with. A bit of luck and a bit of good timing. The company knew me and my work ethic, and even without the language skills I was a benifit to the company right from the beginning.

Many other foreigners that I know in the engineering field in Japan did their master`s degree at a university in japan. The connections between companies and universities are strong, so appears that it is relatively easy to get into the job market once you graduate.

You can also try to search the internet for jobs. Try searching for `Career Cross Japan`. They deal with bilingual jobs. If you can read and write japanese well, you can try applying as other Japanese people do on sites like `En Japan` or `Rikunavi`. I used En Japan to get my current job.
by engineer rate this post as useful

Thanks for the reply 2008/1/12 15:39
Thanks to Rakuda and engineer for your replies

I actually attended a university student exchange not one of those co-op/internship programs so while I was there I couldn't really find much...

Just wondering what is the working language inside the companies where you work?
by cdn engineer rate this post as useful

regarding working language 2008/1/12 21:11
99% Japanese. The other one percent is English when there is a visitor from another company visiting and I intruduce myself or do some translating. The original poster sounds like he doesn`t use much Japanese at work, but obviously there are way more job oportunities and more of a chance of moving up in the company if you can speak some level of Japanese.

The fun thing about working here is that my Japanese gets better all the time, so just being here is an investment in myself.
by engineer rate this post as useful

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