Qs from friend about Working on a Tourist Visa

I just got back from my first trip to Japan. It was really fun figuring out the rail lines and going around sightseeing. Not a day went by wasted in my opinion. If I tried I could blend in with a crowd of salarymen for about 3 minutes before I slip up on my spoken Japanese.

I was talking about my trip with a friend at work when she told me she was hoping she could do a two-week trip where she works at the Tokyo office of our company for a week (she’s hoping to experience the working life in Japan) and then be a regular tourist for a week.

The thing is, isn’t this “working on a tourist visa” and thus illegal? I told this to her but she brought up that this is doable in London, etc. and that there’s nothing stopping her from working in an Airbnb without anyone watching or what happens when the company gets a critical bug and puts her on call even during break (which does happen)?

What exactly constitutes as “working on a tourist visa” then? Does it just affect being employed by Japanese companies? How do multinationals fit in? Is there a resource that explains this stuff in detail?

Do not work on a tourist visa. Period. Its clearly illegal and if you’re caught you could get banned from entering Japan for 10 years.

If your friend is visiting the head officies of the company she works for, that might qualify for the 90 day business visa (for meetings, etc) but she really needs to talk to someone who actually knows the law (like an immigration lawyer?)

Not knowing the law you violated won’t help much when you get caught breaking it.

First off, I agree with @charles in that if you want a definitive answer, this is the wrong place to be asking. I’d start by talking to your local consulate or embassy.

However, the situation is not so clearly illegal to me. A short term stay (no visa required) is:

A stay of up to 90 days for tourism, business, visiting friends or relatives, etc. that does not include remunerative activities

When you come to Japan to meet with another company, there’s no need to get a visa (even though you’re being paid by your company outside of Japan to attend the meeting). Whether or not doing remote work for a company without a presence in Japan is considered doing compensated work in Japan is a bit ambiguous to me.

However, the pragmatic part of me says that given your friend is clearly a short term visitor (just here for two weeks), isn’t getting paid by a Japanese company, and isn’t getting paid to do work that’s explicitly in Japan, I think it should be fine.

The only thing I’d be a bit wary of is having your friend work from your office. Theoretically, if immigration decided to raid the office (something I’ve never heard of happening), having your friend working there might give the appearance that she’s working for you, and so that could cause trouble. Also, from a Japanese perspective, the idea of some random person working at your office is pretty strange. She might be better off working from a coworking space instead.