Working in Japan

Working in Japan

Japan has a unique working culture that values hard working attitudes and politeness, both of which are traditionally ingrained in the minds of Japanese people for centuries. Unlike the west, many Japanese people are expected to dedicate so much of their time and effort to their work, and participate in social parties with their boss and co-workers. You are also expected to be very respectful and courteous not only to your clients and customers, but also to your boss and fellow colleagues. Although many expats find it hard to understand, a strong sense of conformity is expected in the office.
Aside from the work culture and ethics, here are some things you should know about while you are employed at a Japanese firm. Many employers tend to take advantage of their employees, even ignoring their basic rights. However, if they ever do this to you, you have every right to object to it, or discuss with the local authorities. Therefore, it is important that you understand the basic laws that are meant to protect every worker.



Working overtime is prevalent in Japanese offices. Certain employees work dangerously long hours with very little time to sleep. It has become a serious problem that the government has changed to laws to restrict working hours. Some employers don’t pay any overtime, or pay you a fixed amount regardless of how much you work. Of course this is illegal. If you are aware that your employer doesn’t pay you for overtime, record any overtime that you did until you resign. You should also consult your local Labor Standard Inspection office, whose link I’ll provide below. Depending on the circumstances, your employer will be forced to pay for any unpaid overtime. 

Health care and pension

Your employer is required to enroll in health care and pension for all of its employees. Health care covers private medical fees ranging from common cold to dental treatments. You only pay 30% of the entire medical fees. Pension is paid monthly until you reach the age of retirement. But whether you plan to retire in Japan or not, it will still be deducted from your salary, along with your health care premium. If you have a spouse that works at home, he or she should also be covered by your health insurance. Roughly 18 to 19% of the premium is deducted from your monthly salary.

Employment insurance

Aside from health care and pension, you are covered with employment insurance, which provides financial support in case you are laid off or wish to resign. A small sum is deducted from your salary every month. If you resign for personal reasons, you will be given 90 days worth of benefit. If you are laid off, you can receive benefits for a longer period. And due to COVID-19, all recipients who currently receive the benefit is entitled to an additional 60 days. In order to continue receiving the benefit every month, you must file a monthly report showing that you are actively seeking a job.




Also, Japan has passed a law allowing dads to take paternity leave. Dads can go on leave for up to 6 months and receive 67% of their original salary. As Japanese society struggles for gender equality in the office, and help families raise children, this is great news for both moms and dads alike. But as Japanese society still frowns upon men taking paternal leave, not so many people are willing to discuss it with their employer. Read one of our past articles for more details;

Last and not least….

Many workers in Japan live through harsh working conditions, and don’t notice that their basic rights are being violated. But this is because most people don’t know about these laws. However, if you feel you are being treated unfairly, you can consult your local Labor Standard Inspection Office, as mentioned earlier. They provide support in many languages.

Furthermore, if you are supporting a family with only your income, you are eligible for tax breaks and should discuss this with your employer. Raising a family can be a financial burden, and there are many kinds of benefits that you are entitled to use. We hope you can make the best out of your life here in Japan.

If you plan to move to Japan or seek assistance after settling in, please contact us

If you have plans to move to Japan or need help getting settled, we’d be glad to assist you. We can also help you from choosing the right apartment to assisting you with the paperwork, as well as provide support for your everyday life.

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