Q:How can I work for a small Japan company who says they cannot sponsor work visas?
A: “Cannot sponsor work visa” …. Hmmm, that sounds like an “out” to me — a convenient way for them to get you to go away.
Many foreigners have to get their first work visa at a shit-job such as with the NOVA English schools. With a a foot-in-the-door, the foreigner can quit that job and go to work at a better company who often say they, “cannot sponsor work visas.”
There’s no way of telling if the Japanese company is totally clueless—any company, even a one-man office can legally sponsor work visa for a foreign employee. More likely, they just a bunch of timid, cover-their-asses, managers who learned that sponsoring a foreign employee puts them on the line for all sorts of liabilities. In addition, the paperwork for hiring the first foreigner at a Japanese company will appear to be a pain in the ass to a manager with poor familiarity with Japanese the Japanese legal/ bureaucratic system (Japanese people are stunningly ignorant of all things remotely legal). In addition, it’s a pain to prepare English copies of the contracts and whatever for the gaijin they want to hire.
For example, the majority of companies in the Hitachi Group refuse to guarantee/sponsor foreign employees and individual managers have to personally guarantee a gaijin they want to hire. Needless to say, if a gaijin/foreigner applies at one of these Hitachi companies, most personnel managers will say, “you need to get your own visa,” even though there are many foreigners working at Hitachi (most under spouse visas).
Bottom Line: BEFORE you start to apply for Japanese jobs, you need to go Japanese Immigration website (or better yet call or go to your Japanese consulate/embassy) and get armed with all the information/steps for a Japanese company hiring a gaijin (ideally in both Japanese and English).