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Jnr Dev from Melbourne


Hey all, I’m an Associate Software Developer with 1.5 years experience in my current position, and 6 months in another position prior to this one. I work with .NET and TSQL on a daily basis, mainly orientated towards the back end for a company leading the charge in payment solutions for online travel agencies. We have an office in Tokyo, but all of our developers and IT work out of Melbourne in Australia. I have many other languages and technologies that I’m familiar with, including that which caters more to the games industry such as C++. I’m very interested in living abroad and Japan has always been something that I’ve been drawn to - I visited last year in October and loved it!

What steps should I take to make the move to Japan? I’m keen to learn the language and would lIke to at least spend some time in a classroom setting to learn, meet some people and perhaps work remotely temporarily whilst I’m at it. If I can do this for 6 months to a year, would this improve my chances of securing a ‘decently’ paid job in the country? 5.5m+ would be what I’d be hoping for as a Jnr, leaning towards a more Intermediate level role.


It’s hard to say what your chances are finding a job here, as it really depends on you individually. If you’re a good developer, are able to demonstrate your abilities to others, and are already living here, I think you have a decent shot at getting a job that pays ¥5,000,000+.

Nothing is guaranteed of course, and it may end up that you aren’t able to land a job. So I’d recommend creating a plan that works for you regardless of the outcome. For instance, if you think coming to Japan and studying Japanese for half a year would be a great experience even if you ultimately didn’t end up getting a job here, then go for it.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pick up enough Japanese skills to vastly change your career prospects here in Japan - you basically need to be fluent for that. However, just by being in Japan, meeting people, and demonstrating to companies you have some commitment to being here, you’ll up your chances for opportunities that don’t require Japanese skill.


Thanks for replying pwim, I was under the impression that 99% of the jobs in Japan, and particularly in IT, would require at least an N2 level of certification in the Japanese language. Is this correct?


Though the vast majority of opportunities for developers require Japanese, they are certainly other opportunities that don’t require Japanese ability. As a describe in getting your first programming job in Japan, if your tech skills are good enough, there will still be companies that want to hire you, even if you don’t speak Japanese.

My point was that companies that are looking for Japanese ability tend to be looking for someone with at least N2 as you mention, which I think would be pretty challenging to do in a year if you don’t already have Japanese skills going into it, or at least fluency in Chinese (as this can vastly cut down the time it takes to learn Kanji).

So unless you want to dedicate several years to studying Japanese, you’re best shot is probably getting a job at a company that doesn’t require Japanese ability for otherwise exceptional developers.


Sounds good pwim, I think at the very least you’ve been able to give me a more realistic expectation around “learn japanese -> get job”. I’ll see to it that I’ve got a plan that doesn’t require me finding a job, so remote work sounds like a good option providing that my limited experience is enough to find something in that regard. I’m looking forward to working abroad in the future.

I’ve also heard quite the number of horror stories about working expectations at a ‘traditional japanese’ company. They speak about very long working hours and generally developers having poor value at the work place. Is this the standard in Japan and is it safe to assume that most companies will expect this sort of work ethic? I come from a place where it’s okay if your late on occaisson, or you need to leave early, work from home etc or even play a game of table tennis during work hours if you feel like it. Does this sort of culture / environment exist in Japan at all?


While it is true that most Japanese companies are pretty rigid towards working conditions, with overtime being common, there certainly are exceptions.

That being said, there are jobs where you don’t need to work overtime. When I worked for a Japanese company, I put in eight hour days without doing any overtime.

Working remotely is quite rare, as Japanese companies tend to have an office based culture.