Help a Newbie Get Work in Japan


Hey JapanNewbies!

A fellow JapanNewbie (but actually not so newbie Newbie) contacted me with a request for help. I figured I would ask the community to see if we can generate some ideas that may help any other people who may be facing the same situation.

Basically it shakes down like this. Got the education, got the Japan experience, just finished school, and want to work in Japan. Tough to seal the deal without being in Japan though. Check the details below.

I am a newly minted MA in Japanese Studies, living in New York City. The world is my oyster, right?!! I am trying very hard to find a full-time job in Japan (non-English teaching) to improve my Japanese language abilities while gaining professional skills. As someone who had done JET for two years, I have never had to do the shukatsu (job hunting in Japan) thing. I have applied to a number of jobs in Japan, for which I am qualified, and gotten a few Skype interviews. From many companies, however, I get the familiar refrain: “we only hire locals.” So, my fellow Japanophiles, how would you suggest I tackle this problem? Should I head to Tokyo on a tourist visa and hit the pavement? Should I sell my soul and take an eikaiwa job just to get a visa? To help you answer these questions, here is some info about myself:

I graduated from an Ivy League university in 2005 with a BA in English and Art History. I did JET from 2005 to 2007 in Shizuoka-ken. I came back to NYC and worked as a copywriter for a marketing company for one year. For my MA, I spent two years taking courses focused specifically on Japan in business, politics, and history. I also completed a certificate in logistics and transportation, unrelated. My primary areas of research were renewable energy and environmental policy in Japan. I have about 1,000 kanji safely under my belt and have passed 2 kyuu of JLPT.

Based on my background, I am looking for jobs in sales, marketing, market research and operations in Japan. My strengths are writing, research and area knowledge of Japan. I actually found my perfect job the other day: “proposal writer for a leading renewable energy company in Japan.” I applied for it, only to encounter the same response: “LOCAL HIRES ONLY.” Please help me get to Japan. Yoroshiku.

Tough situation. I have my thoughts, and I’ll post them in the comments. Please share your ideas as well!

Help a newbie out!

– Harvey