tokyodev forum

An ambiguous question about worldwide remote work from Japan

Not too long ago I was reading a blog post about ways that fully remote companies are able to hire people worldwide. There appeared to be two main options when the new employee was not based in the USA.

  1. As a contractor.
  2. Through a company that is established in the employee’s current residential country. The person being hired will become an official employee of the third party company and then the USA based company pays the hew hire through this third party company.

So first of all I would like to know what the company performing the service in #2 is called generally. I would also like to know if #1 is possible in Japan and if companies like #2 even exist.

Basically #1 is viable but some countries have laws that make it illegal to work as a contractor that is essentially a fully time employee. In other words contractors need to have multiple clients.

At the end of the day I want to continue to live in Japan but I want to work internationally.

You’re right that companies may not like directly employing people in countries where they don’t have operations, as it might expose them to additional legal liabilities. Japan doesn’t seem to have such strict policies around this, or enforcement of it is lax, as I know of people living in Japan but working remotely for international companies.

The bigger problem with that approach for international people is having a residency status that allows this. Engineer and Highly Skilled Foreign Professional don’t allow this, so unless you are a Japanese citizen, on a spouse visa, or are a permanent resident, it usually isn’t an option.

There are companies that will act as third parties. However, it’s not a common thing in Japan, as I guess there isn’t much demand for it. When I’ve heard of companies doing this, it’s been when a company chooses to open an office in Japan, and is more seen as a temporary solution before a local branch office is established.

@pwim I think there is this $50.000 investment visa option. So, theoretically, if you have $50.000 spare money. You could establish a company in JP and apply for that visa by investing in your company. But, I have to admit that I’m not 100% sure if that works like this.

On the other hand, @4ydx, I think the two options you have listed are basically the same. When companies have outstanding tasks, they are either hiring employees or paying another company to do the work. As a contractor, you basically establish your own company. Then you sign a contract with the company and issue invoices regularly which the company pays. Depending on the country where your company is established, you could pay out from your company’s bank account different kind of monies into your own pocket. I personally operate in this construct (but not from JP), and I have a monthly minimum salary & pay out dividends. Of course, both payouts have their own consideration in terms of taxes.

Anyway, going back to JP, in case you have an established (remote contractor-) business, you could live in JP. But, of course, there is a catch. First of all you would have to go to business-orientated letting services from which you could rent. Normal landlord demand a visa, I suppose. So, you could rent easily from business-orientated letting services, but because these business-orientated services do not plan in the long term with their tenants, renting a room will be expensive and way above the average rent on the open market. The second catch would, that you would have to leave JP every 180 days (or 90?) and re-enter so that you get a new tourist-visa.

And yes, you would basically break the law because you would work with a tourist-visa. But that is something you would have to make up with your own conscience. You can check out Digital Nomads and what they do about this when traveling to & working from other countries.

Anyway, this tactic might be an option to live for 6M-12M in JP - Which might be already enough for some people to gather some experience?

Good luck! :slight_smile:

I’m also curious about this topic.

In 2020 I was planning on working remotely for 1 year through the working holiday visa, while being setup as a contractor from my home country. Of course, a pandemic had to hit, and I’ll soon become too old to be eligible for that visa.

I’ve heard about the business investor visa that @Hannes mentioned, but don’t have that much information about it. Any pointers about that would be most welcome.

@JSFernandes There is a lot of information available online. You should invest 30 minutes into Google :slight_smile:

One new service that may be able to help you out is Shibuya Startup Support, a government agency that’s promoting foreign entrepreneurship in Shibuya, Tokyo.

However, I think this service, and the business investor visa more generally is focused on people creating scalable businesses, and not a one-person development shop, so you might run into some issues if you’re going that way.

Thank you for pointing out the startup support. I agree that it doesn’t suit my current plans, but perhaps after some networking that will become a viable option.