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UPDATE: New anti-terrorist welcome to Japan, less ouch

UPDATE, see below — Nov. 2, 3007
Starting November 20, 2007 all foreigners, tourist and long-time residents alike, entering Japan will be required to join the queue with all arriving visitors for fingerprinting, photographing, and anal probing every time they enter or re-enter Japan. alien_anal_probe150x113.png

Japanese justification for this is partly as a tit-for-tat for the crappy faux security measures against Japanese terrorists entering the USA, and partly out of Japan’s general fears of ALIENS, eeek!

via Nov 2on Fingerprinting non-Japanese
European Business Council and Aus/NZ Chamber of Commerce in Japan: … Jakob Edberg, Policy Director of the EBC: “After long discussions with the Ministry of Justice, it is now clear that re-entry permit holders will be able to pre-register fingerprints and photo at either Shinagawa or at Narita on the way out. Undergoing this procedure once should grant swift re-entry at Narita (not other international airports) as long as the passport/ re-entry permit is valid.”
[Refer to Ministry of Justice PDF
The Ministry of Justice has also said that for those re-entry permit holders who have not yet pre-registered their fingerprints and photos, there should be a line separate from other foreigners (e.g. tourists) at the immigration counter. However, the MOJ not yet made this commitment in writing – because they may not be able to staff the extra lines at all times of the day.

As reported in REUTERS and the Washington Post, Oct. 26…
although the checks are similar to the “U.S. Visit” system introduced in the United States after the attacks on September 11, 2001.
But Japan, unlike the United States, will require resident foreigners as well as visitors to be fingerprinted and photographed every time they re-enter the country.
“It certainly doesn’t make people who’ve been here for 30 or 40 years feel like they’re even human beings basically,” said businessman Terrie Lloyd, who has dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship and has been based in Japan for 24 years. “There has not been a single incident of foreign terrorism in Japan, and there have been plenty of Japanese terrorists,” he said….

The new November Immigration Procedures reestablishes and adds photographing and biomentrics to the vile old system of fingerprinting that was withdrawn after decades of protest ten years ago.
Now long-term, non-Japanese residents like me will have to submit to fingerprints and photographing every time they enter the country and go through the infamous hours-and-hours wait in the “Visitors Line.” Read more at
Nice welcome, Immigration.

New immigration procedures for Japan

Japan National Tourist Organization (Press Release)
Monday, October 22, 2007

Japan will introduce new immigration procedures which require foreign nationals entering Japan to be photographed and electronically fingerprinted from November 20, 2007.

The new procedures – similar to those which have already been introduced in the United States – are part of a law amending parts of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act which was promulgated on May 24, 2006. The revised law contains new provisions for the establishment of a framework for preventative measures against acts of terrorism. As part of this framework, a new anti-terrorism measure is to be implemented, which requires the submission of personal identification information at immigration control.

Under the new immigration procedures, when foreign nationals are applying for landing, fingerprints and photograph will be taken, after which an immigration control officer shall ask a few questions regarding the visitor’s stay in Japan.

In the event that any foreign national, who is required by the new law to be fingerprinted and photographed, refuses to submit to these new provisions, that person will not be permitted to enter Japan, and will be required to leave the country.

All foreign nationals entering Japan will be subject to the new provisions, with the exception of the following:
(1) Special permanent residents
(2) Persons under 16 years of age
(3) Those persons performing activities which fall under the status of residence for ‘Diplomat’ or ‘Official’
(4) Those persons who have been invited by the head of any national administrative organisation
(5) Those persons who are prescribed by the Ministry of Justice ordinance as equivalent to either (3) or (4).

Foreign nationals arriving in Japan will be required to follow the following procedures.
1. A person wishing to enter Japan must submit his/her passport to the immigration control officer.
2. Once the immigration control officer has explained the procedures that are to be followed, the person wishing to enter Japan will be asked to place the index fingers of both hands on a digital fingerprint reader. The fingerprint information will be read and stored electromagnetically.
3. A photograph will then be taken, using the camera located at the top of the digital fingerprint reader.
4. The immigration control officer will then conduct a short interview.
5. On completion of the above procedures, the person wishing to enter Japan will receive their passport from the immigration control officer.


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If you are screwed by NOVA…

Japan’s largest language school chain, Nova, the largest company employing foreigners, now has more than 4,000 engrish teachers that are unpaid and begging for a new job.
 General Union vs NOVA

Teachers left jobless as Nova folds
The Guardian by Justin McCurry, Sunday, Oct 28, 2007
…unable to pay thousands of its teachers, some of whom also face eviction because Nova failed to pay their rent, which is deducted from their salaries…
Katsuji Yamahara, chairman of the General Union, which represents many Nova employees
Nova’s 2,000 Japanese staff have not been paid since July and about 4,000 foreign instructors have not been paid since September….

The smartest thing if you are screwed by NOVA, is leave Japan now, the sooner the better.

It seems that getting unpaid salaries from the Japanese bankruptcy courts can take, “six months or more” according the chairman of the General Union.

So if you are thinking of coming to Japan to teach English, DON’T.

For the next year, teaching in Japan is going to be a mess so it is NOT the time to come to Japan looking for your first job. From what I hear for my friends who own English schools, ex-NOVA teachers are swamping the other schools with job applications. In typically slimy fashion for Japan’s super sleazy engrish industry, the other big chains have begun laying off their teachers and replacing them with ex-Nova teachers at much lower salaries (which were some of the lowest already). Read Dead NOVA bunny.
dead nova usagi rabbit

ANYWAY…here are bunch of useful contacts offered by the British Embassy of Tokyo.

Try the General Union of Japan, a labor union that has a website for screwed NOVA employees .

Read the sage advice at’s, NOVA: How it had to End as well as the overview of what-to-do from the Japan Times, Sept. 25, 2007.

In addition, if you’re from Tokyo, you might try crying at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Consultation Service for Foreigners on 03-5320-7744 –Advice in English Monday to Friday, 9:30am – 12:00 noon and 1:30pm – 5pm.

For employment and advice for job problems, try the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Labor Advisory Service Center for Foreigners: 03-5211-2346 –Advice in English from 2:00pm to 4:00pm Monday to Friday.

In the Osaka and Kobe areas consult the following services offered in English.

Osaka Labor Bureau, Consulting Corner for Foreign Laborers
Osaka Godo Chosha Nigokan Inspection Division of Labor Standard Dept.
4-1067 Otemae, Chuo Ku, Osaka. Tel. (06) 6949-6490
Consultation in English 9.00-17.00 Monday and Wednesday

Kobe Labor Standards Bureau, Consulting Corner for Foreign Laborers
Tel. (078) 367-9151
Consultation in English 10.00-16.00 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday

Osaka General Union, Telephone Labor Clinic
Tel. (06) 4793-0633
Consultation in English Daily 10.00-18.00

Many city offices across Japan have foreign residents’ consultation services so check to see what services they have available.

Foreigners in Japan sometimes can be eligible for unemployment benefits–especially if you have worked full-time at a job for more than one year. It’s all very complex and depends on the type of employment insurance the employee holds, as well as how long they have been working, and under what circumstances they ended their employment. You can check whether you are eligible for unemployment benefits by consulting your local so-called “Hello Work Office” — cheerful name for the Unemployment Bureau, ain’t it?
For Hello Work Offices offering foreign language assistance, try here.

Aussie teachers stranded |
The Australian, 27 Oct—
About 4000 foreign instructors, mostly young graduates hired in Australia, Britain and New Zealand, face an anxious wait of six months or more before they can get financial protection from unemployment insurance and Japanese government compensation.
“Basically, there’s no welfare services for people in Japan and especially not for foreigners,” said Tristan Sime, an Australian former Nova teacher who chairs the Nova branch of the General Union.
“People are going to have to rely upon the kindness of strangers for any support and helping each other — it’s going to be awful for some.”
Some teachers are in debt to Japanese finance companies and many are living in Nova-leased apartments on which the company has failed to keep up rent payments.
Even those with money to get home will struggle. Economy-class seats to Australia in November are tight and there are almost none left in December.
Qantas has offered Australian Nova employees discounted one-way fares for a limited time.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade last night said “traveller emergency loans” could be extended to some teachers, depending on circumstances.
Mr Sime said the Australian embassy in Tokyo had offered support of $150 each: “It’s something but it’s not going to be enough for everybody.”

Posted by Taro in General | 4 Comments »


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WHAT TO IF you are in Japan and…

My friend “Debito” has updated his “WHAT TO IF…” legal resource guide.

He has new info on what to do if you going to be evicted
(Hint: It’s nearly impossible in Japan if you play your cards right).

Why is this a topic in Japan for foreigners?
More than 4,000 engrish teachers are in the process of losing their jobs with the closure of Japan’s largest eikaiwa company, NOVA. Refer to…

As ‘eikaiwa’ giant plans school closures amid credit crunch, some fear the worst
The Japan Times, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007


NOVA’s “Usagi” mascot, an animated pink rabbit (Usagi) ...more

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How can be my own ‘father’?

Q: How can be my own “father” and sponsor my own Japanese work visa to do business in Japan?

A: Things have got a lot easier to self-sponsor a Japanese visa once you are in Japan for more than a year. Read the following first-person accounts of the step by step process these two bloggers used to escape Japanese corporate slavery.

Self Sponsored Visa in Japan
1) Frangipani:
Self Sponsored Visa in Japan: SUCCESSFUL application

2) Keeping Pace in Japan: Self-Sponsored Visa

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How to work for a small Japan company who says they cannot sponsor work visas

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).

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Japanese work visa when you only have a 4-year Software Apprenticeship

Question: “Oh Wise One”… I am planning to find a technical job in Japan in early 2009.
I’ve worked with the same company for some time (6 and 8 years), good references and can hold my ground on many things. However, I don’t think any of the degrees I have are recognized by Japan.
I am smart enough to know if you don’t have a “University” degree getting a work visa very hard.
I did a Software/Firmware apprenticeship in Switzerland, which I think is equivalent to a masters (4 years, lots of school etc), but everyone else thinks it’s less than a bachelor (trade school?).
What are your thoughts?

Yep, you are right. No university degree = a fucked start to a tech job in Japan.

In my 20+ years working the fetid bowels of corporate Japan, I have done a lot of resume and hiring examinations of potential foreign engineering employees.

Here’s the Good news/Bad news…

Good news: Many big Japanese companies will accept your 4-years apprenticeship in lieu of a university degree.

Bad news: Japanese Immigration have a random, phase-of-the-moon approach to granting work visas to gaijin/foreigners without a “University” degree.

Basically, work visas in Japan require a 4-year degree from a university. A 2 year degree will not get you a Japanese work visa unless that 2 year technical degree is combined with 6+ years of real work in a technical field for a real company. If you have 5 to 7 years provable experience at a valuable trade such as a chef or a salaried software designer, you can get a “special skills visa.”

Sorry about the vagueness about the number of years of valid job experience—the assholes at Japanese Immigration consider their visa guidelines top secret and apply them totally at random.

If you have a great work portfolio preferably with big-name, mega-corporation clients and proof you worked in a real business with your skills, you can get a “special skills work visa.” Note that self-employment is viewed very negatively by Japanese Immigration and you would have to be world-famous code guru to get “special skills visa.”.

Japan does recognize the German “meister” certification as equivalent to university degree in most technical areas. Getting a Japanese company to “go to bat” for you for your first work visa is the problem. For example, many Japanese companies have a general policy of “no first visa sponsorship.” That is, you ought to get a work visa at a different (crappy) Japanese company and then quit to join a good company (or get a Japanese spouse visa, working holiday, etc.).

Generally, this all means that you have two options:

Winning-the-lottery Option 1. A large international company transfers you to Japan from their foreign office—let’s say San Francisco—as a valued employee on “The Package.” This Package includes free housing, moving expenses, free private schools if you have kids, a car-and-driver, yada-yada, and a WORK visa.
Obviously, “The Package” is a rare and wonderful thing for people with “just” a technical certificate as you. (However, I just reviewed a work contract for a French chef’s “Package” that came to $110,000 USD/year salary, plus $600,000/year in housing and various tax-free benefits.)

Sad-truth Option 2.
You have to scam a work visa by marrying a Japanese for a spouse visa; you can try to escape from an education visa in grad school; you can establish a Japanese corporation with more than $100,000 capital; or you can use some other semi-fraudulent* means of getting your first real visa, and then apply for tech jobs with that work visa in your hand.

*Do not even fucking bother to ask me how to commit
such frauds. I wish a knew of the fool-proof,
perfect way to scam a work visa
(besides marrying a Japanese). If I knew,
I could be obscenely rich “Visa Consultant.”

So, what’s the first step you should take?

Be obscenely wealthy and start a Japanese company to get a “business visa.”
Or, just marry a rich Japanese.

Otherwise, you will have to go through all the stupid Japanese tech recruiters and try to find a company that will give you that all important first work visa.

Some job resources where you can start to look:

Rots of Ruck!

Posted by Taro in General | 2 Comments »


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Is a bachelors degree necessary to teach in Japan?

Q:  For Teaching English in Japan, do I need any qualifications beyond my
12 years of schooling? I’ve checked the sites of the English schools like Nova, Aeon etc and they talk about a bachelors degree being necessary but is it really? SAYS it isn’t but when the major sites say it is I wonder who’s telling me the truth. If it is, are there any other gaijin friendly jobs in Japan you’d recommend?

A: In your case,  other good Japanese jobs for a gaijin would be IT and graphic design. That said, here’s hard way and the harder way to work in Japan.

Basically, the Japanese immigration rule is that to teach engrish, you need a 4-year college degree to get a “work visa” for teacher.  There are ways around that:  “spouse visa”, “studying in Japanese school” visa, “staying-with-my-Japanese-grandma” visa, “Working Holiday” visa (for EU people mostly not Americans), “self-sponsor” a visa by opening a $100,000+ company in Japan, etc., etc., etc.

For example, if you catch a Japanese wife, you can get you a “Pet License” aka a spouse visa that allows you to work here—-no degree is required. Likewise, if you 5-7 years provable  experience at a valuable trade like a chef or real-world-salaried graphic designer you can get a “special skills visa”. Please don’t ask me ALL of the loopholes because nobody can know them all. HOWEVER. without a college degree or special skills life is gonna be a bitch. Even the engrish schools will be harder on anybody without a degree (that is, the better paying schools will ignore you or start you at a lower pay-scale). Larger Japanese companies, prefer degrees for white-collar workers—smaller Japanese companies who may ignore your lack of a degree can be hell holes. The good thing about Japan is it can be a great place for a talented but young gaijin trying to break into a crowded field like design or graphics. Just being a Japanese-speaking gaijin can open a lot doors normally closed to a smart younger gaijin in the West.

It boils down to what are your skills and what does your professional resume look like? Without a 4-year college degree, life can be hell if you cannot prove your skills with a  resume of  real work in a skill field for 5 to 7 years. That means you better have a great portfolio preferably with big-name, mega-corporation clients and proof you worked in a real business with your skills which in your case is graphics/design.

Bottom Line: Unless you want to suffer, be paid crap, and be discrimated against, you need a 4-year college degree.

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NHK jackboots to extort payments for Japanese public TV

Damn! All television viewers in Japan are “asked” to pay a monthly fee for NHK (Japanese Public Television) services, but but foreigners just ignored it because there was no penality for not paying till now….

NHK to press for subscription fee payments through summary court
japan today > japan > national Friday, October 6, 2006 at 05:00 EDT
TOKYO —NHK Chairman Genichi Hashimoto said Thursday that people who refuse to pay their viewer subscription fees will be pressed for payment through summary courts if they fail to pay by the end of this month…. Viewers’ property may be seized if they do not follow summary courts’ demand for payment.

The deal is that because of the fraud and money scandals of NHK Company, many Japanese people are very angry and stopped paying their fees. The national broadcaster—think of it as Stalinist/JapanInc version of the BBC—was fast going bankrupt. So now NHK is going to start busting down door and forcing people to pay.

NHK service fees: 14,910 yen to 40,430 yen per year ($127 to $343 USD)

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Married Aliens: What about my gaijin spouse’s Japanese visa during long stays overseas?

 MARRIED ALIEN: I want your advice on a a Visa related matter. My wife would be going to the university in the US for her Phd next month. She is French and has a Dependent Visa (based on my Engineer Visa as a French engineer) for Japan til 2009. She will be coming to Japan once every six months or so whenever there is a short/long break at the university. Now my question is:
1) Does she have to surrender her Gaijin card at the imiigration when she goes to the US?
2) Does she have to get a tourist Visa everytime she travels to Tokyo to meet me or can she maintain her dependent Visa status even as she studied in the US?

TARO: If she’s going to the university in the USA under a student visa on a French passport but entering Japan under a Dependent Visa, both the US and Japan passport control officiers might give her the anal probe or worse.  However, she should be able to get away with it.

MARRIED ALIEN: Thanks a lot for your advice. I had the HR Manager of my office at IBM Japan send an email to the Tokyo immigration bureau inquiring about this issue and they replied back saying that this is not a problem. Basically they said that as long as the J-Visa period is effective for my wife and the Re-entry permit is valid, she can come back and forth between Japan and the US as many times as she likes.

TARO: Well gr-r-reat! :D I would have thought that Japan would be more picky about spouse visa.

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Should I get a teaching certificate to work in Japan?

Question: Should I get a TESOL/TEFL teaching certificate at the Masters level to improve my job prospects in Japan? I only have a grad degree in the Arts but I was hoping that TESOL/TEFL teaching certificate would make me more “marketable” to a higher-paying English gig in Japan such as corporate-level instruction or teaching in the university.

Answer: Sad to say that there are very few full-time corporate gigs these days. Sadder to say that teaching engrish in Japan is such a cruel joke that teaching certificates are little help since most employers don’t really give a shit. To apply for a position at the international schools here in Japan–they will require a valid (Western) teaching certificate.

For a real, full-time public university job teaching engrish, you must have a masters or Phd nowadays. However, just as important —if not more important — is that you have to have a published paper in your university field. For an example, if your were teaching engrish to econ students, you should have a published paper(s) in economics (or EFL, English education). Publishing a paper takes a little time and a little scamming but a public universities in Japan expect it of all faculty members.

Since you have a masters in music, a published paper in the field of music is not going to help to get a university job teaching English or specifically teaching English for science/business/econ/CS majors. However, you could get a LEGIT (not fake 3 month course) TESOL Certificates in a 1-or-1.5 year program and make damn well sure you publish a paper while you are in grad school. Since your present “employer” offers free education benefits, you could salvage your unmarketable Arts degree by doing an original EFL/ESL research paper in something like, “Using Art to express words in English” or “Using song to teach adults English pronunciation”.

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