Moving to Japan as a Microsoft Dynamics NAV consultant


My wife and me are planning to settle into Japan next year. My wife is from Japan so I’m eligible apply for a spouse-visa.
Anyway, what I’m concerned is my field of work. I’m an experienced consultant for Microsoft Dynamics NAV which is an ERP-software which allows amendments to the application-code in a proprietary programming language (like SAP). At the moment, I do work on a freelance basis in Europe.

There are around 5 companies in Japan who are specialised in Microsoft Dynamics NAV. So, the Job-market is limited.
My japanese is on a medium level - I can speak with my japanese teacher about easy topics I know. Now, because of my language ability, I might be not interesting for one of these 5 company (the business is normally very customer-driven. You have to interact with Customers a lot normally.)

But to be able to make a living, I’m considering mutliple options.
My first and ideal option would be to continue as a freelance developer/consultant with clients in Europe. It’s a big plus on the salary and I would continue to work in my field.
In case this does not work (there are not so many roles like this because of the customer-focus), I’m considering to apply for a Job at these 5 companies. There is actually professional recruitment activity in Japan (contacts made already - thanks to LinkedIn), but my language knowledge might allow me this step after 1-2 years only. I’ve once heard about specific business etiquette in the office (keigo “version” of japanese). Is this still valid for tech-orientated companies?

If that might not work out, I’m considering a switch into a different field of technology. Being a developer is like being a driver. You can drive your car, but you are able to adapt to drive other cars too. Anyway, I’m considering a switch to another technology based on the same work circumstances: prefered as a remote freelance developer or in a local company.

Last but not least I would try to do something completely different (here in London are a lot of craft beer shops :-))

Thanks for reading so far.
I’m writing this post, because I’m interested in your opinion and if you have any tips?
Or is someone actually in one of my described situations (working remote for clients in US or Europe)?

I’m guessing that the companies where you could use your Dynamics NAV skills probably aren’t great places to work. Traditionally, Japanese companies haven’t valued software development so much, and so outside of startups, domestic companies tend not to be great places to work. Besides that, as you point out, the companies are probably doing consulting domestically, and so your English abilities wouldn’t be an asset while your lack of Japanese would cause issues. So I wouldn’t count on being able to use your dynamics background.

As far as working remotely for an international company, that’s certainly possible. Having a visa is the main challenge, and so that you’ll have a spouse visa solves that. I do know other developers who have succeeded to work remotely for international companies.

It sounds like working remotely with Dynamics NAV might be challenging though. You mentioned communication is a big part of the consulting. If that needs to be in person, that might not work so well. At best, you’ll still have timezone issues to overcome.

Generally speaking, remote positions work best when the company is set up for remote-first. Having one person work remotely in a culture that otherwise relies on in person communication doesn’t work so well. Finding a remote company might require you changing tech stacks.

As you point out, any developer can change tech stacks. But a developer with a different background tends to be perceived as more risky. So ideally, you’d find a position that relates to your experience, even if it isn’t using exactly the same tech.


Thank you for detailed response and taking the time to think about the idea I’ve described.
It definitly kicked off more thinking in my brain :wink:

For Dynamics NAV, it is common that the job is done by two persons. One person is playing the consultant (with customer interaction) and the second person is the developer (which is contact with the consultant mainly). Sometimes I see 100% remote roles. It is possible for me to go directly to a recruiter and ask them to advertise me on the job market. If I have to estimate, I would say that around 3%-5% of all jobs are considered to be 100% remote.

Anyway, to switch my tech stack I have to consider which direction I want to go (Frontend, Backend, Mobile, Desktop, Machine Learning etc.)

I think Backend (databases) and Machine Learning (business cases, data analysing) does fit my current skill set the most. And I always wanted to go the Machine Learning route, because I think it will become crucial in future. The other day I saw a job offer for an english-only speaking ML expert in Tokyo-area. This article here is also interesting (44 of 100 staff are hired from oversea by an AI-company):

I have to check out best ways to switch the tech stack now (volunteering in projects etc.).


One more, but it is not related to development, but Japan :slight_smile:

My wife and me have a savings to be able to live in Japan without work for a period of time.
Is it necessary to have a job to be able to rent in Japan?

Here in the UK you basically need a Job otherwise the Landlord doesn’t trust you that you are able to pay the rent.

Not having a job may make it harder to rent a place, as landlords are normally asking about employment status and salary. That being said, in Tokyo there isn’t a shortage of places to rent. So while you may end up needing to pay a premium or be somewhat restricted in your search, I think it should be possible to rent something even if you’re not currently employed.

Great, thanks for your help. :v::ok_hand::+1:

Hi Hannes,

I am interested in how it has worked out for you in Japan? I am a Dynamics AX developer looking at following a similar route. Did you find that you are supporting mainly international clients, or did you come right with any Japanese clients?

Would be interested in any contacts you may have in the Dynamics recruiting space.

All the best!

Hi Simone,

I’m still in London but I had an interview with a Microsoft Partner a couple of months ago. I wasn’t really ready to move at that point in time and I did the interview more for the experience and to see how far I could get. But, I think this attitude transposed somehow which might have influenced the opinion of the company about me.

Additionally, I have to mention that in Japan it is “the other way around” for professionals with a strong Dynamics background. Here in Europe companies do kiss my a** to get me hired and I can play my cards accordingly. But due to the culture differences this is not the case in Japan. It was made clear to me that I would have to fit into the company as it is and that the company would be my savior. This was hard pill to swallow because as a Dynamics professional you keep the company running who employs you … Anyway, my whole attitude didn’t fit and asking for holiday was also not a good question. Also, I think it also didn’t play out because the company I did the interview with was more or less a traditional Japanese company (long working hours).

So, what I’ve learned is (and the advise I can give): Take care which company you are interested in. You could be “trapped” in a company that doesn’t fit you because the lack of alternatives. Make sure the company is either an international company with a branch in Japan or the manager did study/work in a foreign country.

I have some recruiters for the Japanese market in my LinkedIn if you are interested…