Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

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Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby GTO » Fri Oct 31, 2008 11:51 pm

Bit of background, I'm currently working for a childrens eikaiwa type company, I visit their different schools, play games etc. Pretty easy stuff. Do a couple days a week at the head office, doing curriculum development, events organising etc... It's not the greatest (I am paid per day, so they have obon/new years holidays I'm out of pocket). Not the greatest, but it is stable and I'm comfortable, even if there is 0 oppertunity to advance. I can just coast doing this job.

Now I've been scouted through a website I registered with when I was last looking for work, to basically be an admistrator at a big Japanese manufacturing firm.

Better money than now...with the tastey bi-yearly bonuses Japanese people get...having the oh so big prestige of a proper job not teaching english...

But just last week I was telling some Japanese friends, that it looked tough doing their 12 hour days, and they looked ready to cry into their beers when I told them european people are out the door at 5.

So my question is, is it really that good (or bad) working for a Japanese company? Like I'm not the type of person to sell my soul to work which really seems like is expected, and quite frankly Japanese company working conditions scare me.

I'm not sure if it's worth the risk to try, I had a friend who done similer work, and didn't have her contract renewed after the trial period, and another that left another after a year because the employment agency bullshitted her and told her it was possible to be made a perm worker, when in fact there was no chance and the max they would have renewed was 3 years because that's when they are legally required to make you a perm worker.
So I could end up with unrenewed contract, and be back in the not so great job market that there is now having given up my current position :sad:
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby SamhainP8 » Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:35 am

I guess it depends on what your long term goals are in Japan if you have any?

If you're in for the long haul you'd be mad not to have a crack at it IHOMO.

There will always be average eikaiwa type jobs around to go back to :thumbsup:
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby allblacks » Sat Nov 01, 2008 3:04 pm

Im a big supporter of people moving out of Eikaiwa. Ive been out for almost two years and in my second non-Eikaiwa job kinda surprised just how much better things are. I have kids. They both have health insurance covered by my company. Each doctors visit or whatever is practically free. The money in my case is slightly better than I got before at Nova or the other Eikaiwas and gets bumped up with the bonuses (2 a year.) We have a company trip to Okinawa coming up soon too. Free travel! Next year is probably going to be Aussie.

I reckon you should jump in. If it doesnt work out you can always find something else. Thats the beauty of being a non-Japanese here. No societal pressure to conform to the "norm."
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby Raelene » Sat Nov 01, 2008 3:48 pm

I think that some very wise words have been spoken here already by far more experienced Old Japan Hands, but I'll add my bit: personally, I could never go back to a real job. I work at a small Eikaiwa about 20 hours a week, and take a few private students on the side. It pays well enough for me pay the rent and utilities, and to indulge my two new hobbies (photography and belly dancing). All in all, my life is great! And to top it off, I have the option of leaving this country any time I please, unlike most of my co-workers.

I used to work at a private university for far more money and prestige ... and far more stress, too. I hated it.

As the other posters have pointed out, you have the option of opting out if things don't work out for you and returning to Eikaiwa. So even if the company tries to screw you with a temporary contract, you're still okay. Just keep in touch with your old bosses/co-workers. Don't burn any bridges. :)

P.S. I've just realised that my advice applies only to people who have no mouths to feed apart from their own. What are your personal circumstances? If you are married with kids and planning to stay here for the long-term, then I don't suggest following my advice! :)
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby GTO » Sun Nov 02, 2008 9:59 pm

Thanks for the comments so far. As for personal circumstance I'm free and single, but looking to be in Japan for a while yet (I've just brought myself a motorbike after all!).

Last night I spoke to some Japanese people and they've cleared up some things. The job ad I've seen shows that they're looking for a contract worker, and I was a bit confused between the differences between a contract worker and temp. But the Japanese people I were speaking to were saying that perm isn't what it used to be, and that contract workers have some advantages. So if they really are looking for a contract worker as opposed to temp, then that wouldn't be so bad.
Also, being a woman (doubly so being a gaijin I guess), there would be less pressure on me since there would be no expectation for me to step up through management (who'd have thought an advantage to the glass ceiling!)

I'm not desperete to get out of Eikaiwa, like my teaching days range from 2-5 hours, it's rather cushty in some aspects. One day I will need to move on from this job, but I'm not sure it's now since my resume is rather choppy, and I'm not sure if I want to get into a Japanese company or keep on at teaching kids side of Eikaiwa (I liked teaching at elm schools, but I'd like to be full time at one school rather than getting shafted by dispatch companies).

I'd worry also that breaking my current contract would mean burning current bridges, the guy in charge is regularly described as a dick for good reason. But then a co worker of mine was telling me that there has been cases of some people being 'recalled back to their country due to dead grandmothers' for a few months, and then returning when things didn't work out with their new jobs...uh I mean finished helping the family through the grief 8)

All in all, I guess I better go to the interview, I got a list of questions for them. And I am legendary in ballsing up interviews so they could make the decision for me :thumbsup:
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby Raelene » Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:03 pm

Go for it, what's stopping you? Try everything you can, as long as you are footloose and fancy-free. And let us know how the interview goes, we'll be interested to hear the details. :thumbsup:
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby GTO » Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:27 am

Oh well I didn't even get an interview, not enough experience apparently :cry: And I had started liking the idea of double the money I currently get! But now I'm depressed I'm going to be stuck in my current low paid job forever and ever and ever :doh:
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby Tokyo_Joe » Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:21 pm

GTO: Don't be so hard on yourself. For all you know you could have dodged a bullet there.

FWIW, I'm with Raelene on this one. As long as you're young and aren't supporting anyone financially (spouses, kids, ailing parents, etc.), there's absolutely no reason to be concerned with getting a 'real' job. I've bitched my case on a few threads, so for now I'll just suffice to say that, unless for some reason you're keenly interested in a specific industry/sector, office-based work in Japan seems to be even more boring and pointless than it is in the West. If you're not convinced, just think of this: Imagine the worst eikaiwa student you've ever had. Now imagine you have to hang out with them for 8 plus hours a day. And they're your boss.
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby quato » Fri Nov 14, 2008 5:49 pm

Tokyo_Joe wrote:Imagine the worst eikaiwa student you've ever had. Now imagine you have to hang out with them for 8 plus hours a day. And they're your boss.


:jaw: :omfg: :shock: That one is going to give me nightmares! But you don't have to be constantly talking or trying to make them talk while correcting their grammar for the whole 8 hours, do you?
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby allblacks » Fri Nov 14, 2008 5:59 pm

I reckon thats going a bit far. My boss asks me Qs sometimes about English grammar stuff. I mean sometimes in the loosest possible way here. Ive been at the co. for nearly nine months and he asked me a grand total of 4 questions. Other workmates have asked too but just not worth worrying about.

The constant your-culture-is-so-different all the time can grate on the nerves though. If I were Canadian they would be talking about me living in a log house or something. :rotfl: The fact is that my colleagues just dont know enough about NZ to be able to generalize as much as they would like to. They do it but the limits are soon reached. "Allblacks you always eat so much." "You always bring your bag to work, where is it today? " "I bet you can drink a lot of beer." etc etc :drunk:
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby Tokyo_Joe » Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:16 pm

quato wrote:
Tokyo_Joe wrote:Imagine the worst eikaiwa student you've ever had. Now imagine you have to hang out with them for 8 plus hours a day. And they're your boss.


:jaw: :omfg: :shock: That one is going to give me nightmares! But you don't have to be constantly talking or trying to make them talk while correcting their grammar for the whole 8 hours, do you?


Sorry, I meant in terms of general personality traits/boringness/obnoxiousness.

People at work almost never ask me for English-related stuff (outside of my job duties, obviously), thank dog.
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time to "zone out"

Unread postby quato » Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:15 pm

One thing about not teaching English is although your job may be 100 times more complicated and/or difficult, you don't have to be "on" all the time. I bet you can take a minute or two here and there to just stare off into space and take a breather.Some office workers are probably even reading this site from work. (Some people on the GP board claim to be posting from work) Try zoning out or daydreaming in an English lesson and you'll wake up to a room full or :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby Raelene » Fri Nov 14, 2008 9:43 pm

That's an excellent point, quato, I couldn't have put it better myself. But the thing is, I'm only "on" for 20 hours a week, as opposed to being half-off, half-on, and totally bored for 40 - 60 hours. Furthermore, my students are pretty much handpicked, as I'm never forced to teach anyone I really dislike. Most of my students are kind, gentle people I'd probably be happy to spend time with for free! And as for the ones who aren't, well, I only have to see them for one hour a week anyway. It's their families I feel sorry for!
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby MacGyver » Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:40 pm

Sorry I'm late to the party as usual, but from my experience of working in eikaiwa, a Japanese co., and now a foreign co., I'd say its all about what you want from life. I'd pick a foreign co. over a J one any day of the week but J companies aren't all bad. If you like your cushy life, then stay where you are. But if you want to do something more, then explore your options. Working in a J company may not be as bad as you think or like you've heard.
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby PanicInducingGaijin » Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:57 pm

MacGyver wrote:Sorry I'm late to the party as usual, but from my experience of working in eikaiwa, a Japanese co., and now a foreign co., I'd say its all about what you want from life. I'd pick a foreign co. over a J one any day of the week but J companies aren't all bad. If you like your cushy life, then stay where you are. But if you want to do something more, then explore your options. Working in a J company may not be as bad as you think or like you've heard.


My path has been very similar, and I'd have to agree with all of this. Sure, you may hear horror stories about working in some Japanese company or other, but they're not all the same. While many of my Japanese colleagues at the Japanese company I first worked at after eikaiwa stayed until 10:00 or 11:00 at night, I rarely stayed past 6:00 pm. I got my work done and then left, and I never had any problem. I got my bonuses and raises the same as everyone else. The biggest complaint I had was that they didn't give me any special "gaijin" consideration with regard to vacations. (Less than a week just isn't enough for a trip home when you live in America.)

At the foreign company I work at now, however, that's never been a problem, as my boss takes a month-long holiday to go back to America every year himself. He certainly wouldn't be in any position to tell me that two weeks is too long. And I never work OT there unless there's something special going on; I'm out the door by 5:00 most days.

One piece of advice that I would offer when considering what you (the nonspecific "you," not MacGyver) should do regarding work would be to consider not only the present but the future, as well. What do you want to be doing five or ten years from now, and how does eikaiwa fit into that? If it does fit in, then maybe you're fine. If it doesn't, however, the "cushy life" of eikaiwa might be doing more harm than good, whereas the "unpleasant" job might be giving you valuable experience. YMMV.
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby Raelene » Fri Dec 05, 2008 10:37 pm

PanicInducingGaijin wrote:One piece of advice that I would offer when considering what you (the nonspecific "you," not MacGyver) should do regarding work would be to consider not only the present but the future, as well. What do you want to be doing five or ten years from now, and how does eikaiwa fit into that? If it does fit in, then maybe you're fine. If it doesn't, however, the "cushy life" of eikaiwa might be doing more harm than good, whereas the "unpleasant" job might be giving you valuable experience. YMMV.

I think that this is excellent advice for the husband in Japan, not to mention everybody else. Unless you are willing to continue working in Eikaiwa indefinitely (meaning that you are blessed with a very understanding wife) or are able to set up your own language school or ethnic restaurant (meaning that you are blessed with a very business-savvy wife), your best bet is to enter the corporate culture of Japan (meaning that you are blessed with a typical Japanese wife, who is a blend of both). If you are working hard to support the family, generally she will not complain, so you needn't worry too much about the long hours. I think it's worth the effort. :)

As for me, I would still be happy to be doing Eikaiwa five or ten years from now. Apparently I'm good at it! :D
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby Pootytang » Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:43 am

I work for the 2nd largest Korean company in their appliance division. I've been here for 2 years. I come in at 6:30AM and am out the door by 5PM 99% of the time. However, as one poster already mentioned, it can be tough for a westerner that doesn't speak the language fluently. I'm married to a Korean, so I've got the visa - but I still do part time private lessons on weekends to make extra cash.

If I was charging by the hour, I'd be making a whole lot more money. Bonuses are directly related to your position. I'm a 2nd level manager at the top of my pay scale (kwajang 52K) so my bonus is roughly 6k - but that was before the exchange rate took a hit back in October. Korean and Japanese companies are similar in a lot of ways, but one thing I hear is vastly different is the after dinner party. We go out to eat & drink on company funds about once a week, sometimes a bit more than that. I hear Japanese companies aren't quite willing to do that as much.

But yeah, it's nice that I don't have to teach every day. Some days are busier than others of course, but my division is really laid back. I work for new product innovation doing Stage Gate and NPI. Mostly attending meetings in English and a little bit of English proofreading for their presentations. Our CEO and CTO both have been globalizing our company and all meetings have to be in English starting this year. I had a background with IBM for approx 9 years when they hired me, but now with the exchange rate the way it is, I'm really not making all that much. Wife and I plan to head back home in about 2-3 years. We don't pay anything for rent because my MIL owns the apartment villa building and gave us a 3 bedroom place when we got here 2 years ago, so we've saved quite a bit.

Still, they nickel and dime you to death in Korea. :eyes:
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby Raelene » Sat Dec 13, 2008 2:59 pm

Reading Pootytang's post above made me realise just how cushy life is for many gaijin who are established in Japan/Korea. Sounds like you're doing pretty well for yourself, as are a lot of the other posters here.
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby Wage Slave » Sat Dec 13, 2008 4:29 pm

Raelene wrote: realise just how cushy life is for many gaijin who are established in Japan/Korea.


You have a good point. I am certainly not complaining - virtually zero stress and a comfortable lifestyle. OK, I brought resources here with me but they bought a lot of living space. I still feel very under utilised at times but am happy to trade that off against the lack of stress.
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby sos » Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:38 pm

The eikaiwa which I worked for closed in 2005. I found a job in at a German company in inaka where I felt a lot of Japanese pressure (conforming). I left that job in the summer of 2008 and work for a famous automobile (foreign) company currently.

It depends on your job but I usually don't leave at 5 pm. There has been times I have been here until midnight. I sometimes come in at 7 am. Because it is near the holiday season, things have settled down but ........

Though it is a foreign company, the Japan branch has very few foreigners. Most of the foreigners are engineers who are in a different part of the company. I work with Japanese people who speak English but---

Sometimes when a Japanese person has been abroad too long, they think the only English which "works" is to be rude and blunt. I have found it hard to keep the "wa" when my senpai talks in the "don't fuck with me" tone. Though she is trying to accomodate by speaking to me English (everyone else speaks to me in Japanese), it is really demoralizing.

Looking through, I am thinking what to do next. My contract is up at the end of January and I am 99% not going to renew. With the recession coming, I am wondering is working in non-eikaiwa better?
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby allblacks » Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:49 pm

sos wrote:The eikaiwa which I worked for closed in 2005. I found a job in at a German company in inaka where I felt a lot of Japanese pressure (conforming). I left that job in the summer of 2008 and work for a famous automobile (foreign) company currently.

It depends on your job but I usually don't leave at 5 pm. There has been times I have been here until midnight. I sometimes come in at 7 am. Because it is near the holiday season, things have settled down but ........

Though it is a foreign company, the Japan branch has very few foreigners. Most of the foreigners are engineers who are in a different part of the company. I work with Japanese people who speak English but---

Sometimes when a Japanese person has been abroad too long, they think the only English which "works" is to be rude and blunt. I have found it hard to keep the "wa" when my senpai talks in the "don't fuck with me" tone. Though she is trying to accomodate by speaking to me English (everyone else speaks to me in Japanese), it is really demoralizing.

Looking through, I am thinking what to do next. My contract is up at the end of January and I am 99% not going to renew. With the recession coming, I am wondering is working in non-eikaiwa better?


You work too hard Sos. :o I reckon you need to take a break and stuff. :lol: Just kidding of course.
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Re: Working for a Japanese company really the way forward?

Unread postby sos » Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:40 am

No, you are right. I do work hard but I do enjoy working hard when I believe in what I am doing.

Though the job is interesting, it really sucks that 1 person can really ruin it for you.

My husband is in the same boat as you about me taking a break. Thanks
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