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Employment into a Japanese company 2008/2/9 13:13
My Japanese teacher has told me a number of times that it isn't smart to pursue a career in a Japanese company. His claim is that if you do get employed, you will be used like a "rag" and put to work on the most difficult tasks. Once they break you down, they "kick you out on the street". He also said that there is no chance that a foreigner can ever work his way up from the bottom to a higher ranking position in a company. Is this really the reality for an American who becomes a company worker? I'm looking at this as if I knew fluent Japanese (which I'm not there yet, but I'm only 18 now), so the language barrier wouldn't be the issue. I would like to get some input on this topic and what my chances would be to get employed in Japan after college (I'm planning to double major in Computer Science and Japanese). Thanks!
by Jeemusu  

Also check out gaishikei 2008/2/9 20:21
Keep in mind that Japanese companies are not the only option- a lot of international companies (gaishikei) like HP, Microsoft, Cisco and many others have large offices in Tokyo and hire English speakers with IT skills/ experience- if you speak good Japanese too your options are even greater.

The working conditions at this kind of company are usually a lot better than at a traditional Japanese company- a less rigid heirarchy, less pressure to do overtime and depending on the company a more relaxed atmosphere.

My husband is Japanese but works at a foreign company because he prefers the working conditions. It is a French company but the working language is English, and his co-workers are Korean, Indian, Chinese and British as well as French and Japanese.

by Sira rate this post as useful

Can you read and write? 2008/2/9 21:28
Firstly, is your Japanese Teacher Japanese?

Since you are going into IT related industry (Computers)
Companies that are more International such as Sira mentioned you might have a good chance But Japan is very competitive so it all depends on you and your abilities.

But I would have to agree with your teacher and his point of view remember a foreigner in Japan will never be treated as an equal, in Japan there is an underlining of equality and discrimination issues to the point that Japanese being xenophobic.

Ifm not putting all Japanese into this category, Japan has a rich tradition and culture, Japan is very unique, there are many things that even a native Japanese person do not fully understand which even makes in that much more difficult for a foreigner to even try understanding.

Once you are in Japan there is so much to learn and understand it will take a life time, find your own niche, be positive and go for your dreams.

Good Luck
by Steve rate this post as useful

More thoughts 2008/2/10 07:42
Thank you for the responses. To answer your question Steve, my teacher is Japanese. He is an older man though, so I wonder if maybe some of his experiences reflect a pre-modern Japanese society. Not to say that he doesn't speak the truth, but in this day and age, everything is changing rapidly.

He did highly suggest that the best option would be to work in Japan in an American company. I understand that it would be a much greater possibility to be employed in that fashion. The two things that I feel might be lacking in a foreign company would be: Japanese not used/spoken in the workplace and a more western structure to how the company cares out its business. If I were to live in Japan, I would like to get the most out of the experience. If my work would seem too much like living back in America, it could "disrupt" my own pursuance in discovering all aspects of Japanese society.

If anyone knows more details or has other thoughts to share, please go right ahead.

Thank you
by Jeemusu rate this post as useful

Japanese company vs. foreign company 2008/2/10 08:57
Don't just look at American companies, there are plenty of European companies based in Japan too and they hire Americans...

An ordinary Japanese cpmpany will almost always hire a Japanese over a foreigner for the same job, partly because they have to do extra paperwork to sponsor you for a visa and partly because a lot of Japanese just don't know how to act around foreigners and get very nervous, even if the foreigner speaks good Japanese. Working at an ordinary Japanese company will also require native-level fluency in reading and writing Japanese as well, and you have many years study ahead of you before you reach that level, 4 years of university will only get you part way there.

So the bulk of your chances, early on at least, lie with a foreign company. Most of them also employ plenty of Japanese people- often more Japanese than foreigners so you will have lots of opportunities to use your Japanese.

Bear in mind also that most companies here like you to have not only relevant qualifications and also experience in the IT field so you are also probably looking at at least a year working fulltime in IT in your home country to be a more attractive prospect to employers here.

Good luck, enjoy your studies.
by Sira rate this post as useful

working in Japan 2008/2/10 18:08
Learning about Japanese culture will take you a lifetime. Working in a Japanese company will make it harder, not easier as you will not know all sorts of things that aren't properly taught in school and it will annoy your co-workers. In Japan there are various levels of formality, and masculine and feminine forms of speech. In a foreign company it is likely that the culture will be informal and, because so many cultures are working together, there will be less concerns about involuntary breaches of etiquette. I live in North America but was born/raised in Europe. In North America dealings between workers and between workers and managers are easy: informal, first name basis. In Europe there is more formality, even now. One can work with someone for 20 years, get along with them very well, but one is expected to call them by their family name outside work and, at work to call them sir, lady and use the 3rd person plural:" Mr Humphrey, when you are free, would you be so kind as to help me?". Talking with managers one would use their title: "Good morning Madam Manager, may I trouble you with the morning report?" some of my clients in Europe were older aristocrats and one had to be very formal without being servile.
by Red Frog rate this post as useful

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