Recently, I came upon a query from someone asking for jobs that are “exclusive to Japan”, so I thought I would write a bit about this topic. When people from “the West” or a “more developed Nation” are wanting to move to Japan, the motivation for that rarely stems exclusively from wanting to work here. Rather, people have something that they like about Japan, maybe they like Anime, Japanese history, or simply enjoy being in the country due to the atmosphere, the people and so on. There might be the rare case of a person looking to work in a scientific field in Japan, maybe linguists or other researchers that want to work on-site, so to speak. But for the most part, people want to live in Japan and having to work here is a byproduct of that.
On the other hand, some people might feel the exact opposite. South-east Asian countries, while slowly making progress and developing their economies still often look to Japan as their opportunity to earn a lot of money. Due to the Japanese Yen being a pretty strong and stable currency, going to Japan and working in – for Japanese standards – low-pay or even minimum-wage jobs and then sending that money back to their own country to feed their families continues to be a viable option for people from some Asian countries. In stark contrast to the group mentioned in the first paragraph, this groups primary motivation is to work and make money here and they have to live here to be able to do that.
Are There Jobs Exclusive to Japan?
Now, I wanted to look at a few jobs that are exclusive to Japan, though be warned that I am from “the West”, so my perspective will be biased of course. Exclusivity can have multiple meanings here, so I will talk about a few different categories of jobs. Further, it should also be mentioned that the global society that we live in today has eroded the concept of exclusivity pretty thoroughly, an office job is an office job, a factory job is a factory job, and while there are of course differences from country to country, they are not enough to make most jobs “exclusive”. There might be some almost exclusive jobs, like maybe Sake brewing or other traditional Japanese arts and crafts, but again, with how connected everything is today, you could probably attend an online class and then start a business in your home country. Another form of exclusivity would be jobs almost exclusively done by foreigners in Japan. Language teaching and interpretation or Translation come to mind here, you will rarely find an English conversation teacher that is native Japanese, more often than not it will be people from the UK or America.
If we are thinking about exclusivity from another angle, there are of course brands and companies that exist exclusively in Japan. If you want to work at Nintendo Headquarters, that would be pretty exclusive to Japan, same for Toyota or other Japanese conglomerates. These big companies obviously have branches in other countries as well, but company culture in Japan is different enough that I would say that working at Nintendo Japan is pretty different to working at Nintendo America, making both a pretty exclusive experience.
But let us be real for a minute here, after I had some fun in the earlier paragraphs, I do not think any jobs are “exclusively” available only in Japan. It is of course entirely possible that I misunderstood or misinterpreted the query. But I believe that rather than asking yourself what jobs are exclusively available in Japan, ask yourself if there is something that you exclusively can bring to a company in Japan. Too many people believe that just by them being foreigners and being able to speak basic Japanese, companies should line up trying to hire them. This might sound harsh to some, but unless you have a very good command of the Japanese language (AT LEAST Japanese Language Proficiency Test N2 Level and being able to have a normal conversation in Japanese), companies outside the aforementioned teaching and translation industries are probably not going to be too ecstatic about hiring you. Learn the language, learn to use the language, and then think about what you can bring to a potential employer in addition to that. If your only relevant skill is “being able to speak decent Japanese”, they might as well hire a Japanese person.