Japan Work/Visa problems
July 23, 2012 12:24 AM   Subscribe

Japan Visa/Work Problems, Cont.: Living in Japan, scored a job as an ALT in Japan that starts in a little over a month; already signed the contract and got my work visa renewed. Just got an offer from a much better paying job that would employ me right away (and would sponsor me). What to do?

Hello everyone,

I'm having a bit of a dilemma, and would appreciate some help from someone in the know.

I am living in Japan, and my old visa is close to expiring (it runs out in early August). I only got a job offer from an English teaching company, which I didn't really want to do. I am a fairly fluent Japanese speaker, and was hoping for something in which I could improve upon my Japanese and help me branch into another career.

But, the teaching job is only a half year contract and ends in March, which lines up well with the hiring season for Japan (new jobs usually start in April). It's also in Tokyo, so I figured I would have ample opportunity to search for a new job in the meantime. In large part due to the visa dilemma, I bit the bullet and signed the contract.

Today, I got an offer from a company that I had really wanted to enter, but had given up on (no response for weeks, even after emails). I would much prefer this job over the English gig; I would get better benefits, better hours, better salary, a subsidized apartment, and a line of work in which I can improve my Japanese.

The English teaching job does not start for another month (last week of August), so there's that; it's not like I would be leaving them without a teacher in the middle of the school year. The monkey wrench is that they have already re-sponsored my work visa. (The new company has no problem re-sponsoring me as well).

Does anyone familiar with Japanese work/visa laws have any advice, or know someone who has been in a similar situation? I know moralistically breaking the contract is a ***tty thing to do, and I wouldn't really like to cut and run, but this new job is much more up my alley. I am just worried about the repercussions.
posted by Kamelot123 to Work & Money (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Realistically, you need to speak with a Japanese employment lawyer before you break your contract unless you know what the repercussions. I would do that before discussing any contract breaking topics.
posted by gen at 2:31 AM on July 23, 2012

There will be no repercussions for breaking your contract. I am not your lawyer, but, then again, Japan has the lowest number of lawyers per capita of any OECD country. It is not a litigious society.

As a case in point, a friend of mine runs an eikaiwa, and needs some part-time help. He sponsored the work visa of a new hire, who then got cold feet and backed out. There is nothing my friend the employer can do, and on top of that, the work visa is still valid!

So, you have little to worry about. If I were you, I would jump ship. Opportunities like this come along in Japan only occasionally, and if the ALT dispatch company really wanted to retain its workers it would pay higher wages.

The ALT dispath company will be unhappy in the short, short term, you will be happy in the long term.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:09 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I could be wrong, but when I was in Japan I think someone told me that all employment contracts must have a provision allowing either party to terminate the contract within 30 days. That person was not a lawyer though.

Regarding sponsoring your visa, I was once told at the immigration office (many years ago), that you do need to switch over sponsoring companies when you change jobs, though many people don't. (Still, Rules Are Rules in Japan, so if you get caught it's on you in a big way.) If you're unsure, you should go there some afternoon and ask them.

I would get better benefits, better hours, better salary, a subsidized apartment, and a line of work in which I can improve my Japanese.

That sounds awesome. Just curious, what sort of work will you be doing?
posted by homodachi at 9:51 AM on July 23, 2012

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