Work in Japan: 2019 IT and Software Engineering Jobs

Finding IT jobs in Japan is not easy and even harder if you don’t have a good Japanese language skill.

In here, I compile companies and resources you can check to help you find a job here in Japan.

Rakuten (company)

  • Provides Visa Sponsorship
  • Japanese Language Not Required
  • Hires Overseas Applicants

Rakuten is the Amazon of Japan. It started as an online retail e-commerce website. Now, it provides services across multiply industries like banking, insurance, mobile services, etc.

You can check this list of Rakuten jobs.


Mercari (company)

  • Provides Visa Sponsorship
  • Flexible Time Schedule

Mercari is a secondhand online marketplace. It’s probably Japan’s first unicorn company. Based on their website, they are open about hiring foreign workers.

You can check this list of Mercari jobs.


Tokyodev (Job Listing)

  • Provides Visa Sponsorship
  • Japanese Language Not Required
  • Hires Overseas Applicants

TokyoDev is a career blog with a list of Software Engineering jobs targeted for international developers and software engineers. You can check the curated list of jobs specially for English speakers here.


Justa (Job Listing)

Justa is an English job postings, mostly for engineering positions. It has a focus on lesser-known startups.

I haven’t fully check this website and I feel the website is lacking with a good filtering and sorting mechanism.

If you feel like working for start-up companies, check it out in here.


Japandev (Company Listing)

This next one is a full website dedicated for listing tech companies in Japan which accepts foreign workers.

The website provides a summary of each company and also has links to each company’s careers page. Here is the Japandev’s website.


There you go. I hope with the resources above, you’ll be able to find a good company where you can work at the same time, enjoy Japan.

Btw, last one, don’t forget to create a LinkedIn account and make a great profile. A lot of IT recruiters look for candidates from this platform.

That’s all and good luck!

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Work in Japan: Foreign Workers Statistics as of October 2018

As of October 2018, there are now 1,460,463 foreigners working in Japan. This is a record high increase of 14.2% (181,793 foreigners) compared the previous year.

Number of foreign workers by Nationality

  • Chinese – 389,117
  • Vietnamese – 316,840
  • Filipino – 164,006
  • Brazil – 127,392
  • Nepali – 81,562
  • G7 / G8 + Australian & New Zealand – 77,505
  • South Korean – 62,516
  • Indonesian – 41,586
  • Peru – 28,686
  • Others – 171,253

Number of foreign workers by Industry

  • Manufacturing – 434,342
  • Wholesale and Retail business – 186,061
  • Accommodations, Restaurant, Drinking business – 185,050
  • Education and Learning – 69,764
  • Construction – 68,604
  • IT and Communications – 57,620
  • Medical and Welfare – 26,086
  • Service Industry (not classified into others) -230,510

Source: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/content/11655000/000472893.pdf

According to the source above, there are only 1,673 Filipinos working for Information and Communications industry related jobs (うち情報通信業).

To be honest, I thought the number foreign workers under IT and Communications industries will be a lot higher since I see a lot of software engineering job posts. I guess there is still a lot of slots here in Japan waiting for my fellow software engineers.

Work in Japan: Programmer and Software Engineer Average Salary Latest Survey

You’re working as a software engineer in your home country and suddenly you realize, you want to work in Japan; the country of polite people, efficient transportation system, safe communities, anime and long work hours.

But before you go looking for job post and doing interviews, I recommend you check your potential salary range working in Japan. One of the many things to consider when thinking of living in Japan is the salary gain or loss you will get once you start working here. For me, since I came from the Philippines, the salary increase was very good when I moved here back 2013.

Average Salary

According to the latest survey, the average annual salary for a software engineer in Japan is 4,146,000 yen.

Average Male Salary: 4,250,000 yen
Average Female Salary: 3,720,000 yen

Source: https://www.creativevillage.ne.jp/27962

Average Salary by Programming Language

Language
Average SalaryTop Salary
Python6.51 million yen16 million yen
Perl6.33 million yen19 million yen
Ruby6.06 million yen16 million yen
C5.97 million yen19 million yen
JavaScript5.55 million yen16 million yen
PHP5.38 million yen19 million yen
Scala5.3 million yen11 million yen
Java4.99 million yen19 million yen
Swift4.83 million yen12 million yen
Objective-C4.75 million yen15 million yen
COBOL4.46 million yen12 million yen
Assembly4.41 million yen8.4 million yen

Source: https://jp.stanby.com/media/programming_ranking/

Salary Range per Age Group

AgeSalary in Yen
20~243.059 million yen
25~293.89 million yen
30~344.225 million yen
35~394.554 million yen
40~444.754 million yen
45~495.159 million yen
50~545.205 million yen
55~595.403 million yen

Source: https://www.creativevillage.ne.jp/27962

There you go. If you are a Python programmer, you are more likely to be compensated generously. I know these numbers are way lower than software engineering salaries in Europe and USA (specially in Silicon Valley). So if you came from these places, give it a couple of thoughts before moving here for an IT position.

If you love Japan and it’s culture, come here and enjoy. I wish you find a good company to work here.

Read my posts about my working experience here in Japan and my monthly cost of living in Tokyo this 2019 if you want to know more about the working condition here in Japan.

Cheers and good luck. 😀

Japan Life: Helpful Websites and Mobile Apps for Foreigners in Japan

Life in Japan is not easy for foreigners who are not fluent in Japanese. Even after my seven years here, I still struggle to remember the train schedules specially the last train.

Here is my list of helpful websites and mobile apps that will make your life here in Japan a little better.

Google Translate

https://translate.google.com

Google Translate is definitely a must have application if your Japanese language skill is still rusty.

Here are the reasons why I like it:

  • Aside from text translations, you can do image and Augmented Reality (AR) translations with the use of your mobile phone’s camera.
  • You can type in romaji and it will still try to translate it to your desired language.
  • You can download the translation data so you won’t need to be connected to the internet while doing the translation.

Excite Translator

https://www.excite.co.jp/world/english_japanese/

Excite Translator is a translation tool just like Google Translate (with only limited feature). And while they have the same purpose, most of the time, Excite Translator uses more appropriate or more formal translation than Google Translate. This is good when you’re writing emails and messages to your colleagues.


Jorudan – Japan Transit Planner

https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/?sub_lang=nosub

I know there are a lot of apps and website where you can check train schedule but for me, Jorudan, will always be my go to website for checking train schedule and transfers.

It provides a simple UI to input the starting station and destination station. You can also input the date and time you want to ride from the starting station or arrive in your destination.


Trip.com

https://www.trip.com

Trip.com is my go to website for finding cheap flights. This one saved me a lot of money when I travel for a Philippine vacation.

Our usual round trip flight fare from Tokyo to Manila is around 40-70,000 yen during off peak season but with Trip.com, you can find fare for as low as 20-30,000 yen.


TransferWise

https://transferwise.com/jp

TransferWise is one of the money transfer services I use (aside from MetroBank). TransferWise has the best exchange rate and easy to use and track because they have a mobile application.


There you go. I will update this list every time I find new useful websites and mobile apps.

Japan Life: My Experience Working as a Software Engineer in Japan

It’s been almost 7 years now since I started my career here in Japan and so far it’s been great.

Company 1: The Stepping Stone

I came here the Summer of 2013. Working as a Software (Bridge) Engineer for an IT company in Shin Yokohama; which mostly do printing related software.

This is your typical Japanese company but with most of the employees (Software Engineers and Testers) being Filipinos. The high ranking employees are mostly Japanese with a single Filipino manager. We were like 30 to 50 Filipinos working in two offices; both are in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Pros:

  • No urgent need for Japanese language since most of the employees are Filipinos.
  • There are company dormitories so no need to worry about your accommodations and utility bills.
  • Our HR lady handles all matters related to Japanese ward office and immigrations.
  • Sponsors working visa and basically the one who will fly you to Japan.
  • You feel less home sick since you are around with a lot of Filipinos who you can talked to most of the time.
  • Do company outing like Philippine companies once a year.
  • Provides flight fare money for a Philippine vacation once a year.

Cons:

  • The technology stack is pretty much outdated and you work most of the time with printer related technologies.
  • Low to mediocre salary which is not much of an increase from your salary in the Philippines.
  • Long and unnecessary meetings.
  • The dreaded Japanese trademark overtime work. Like 9AM to 10PM work hours most days of the week.
  • Taking long paid leaves is frowned upon.
  • No good coffee.

Overall, it’s not a great company but somehow tolerable. I left the company after a year and 10 months of working there. I still hang out with former colleagues specially during winter because we snowboard as a group.

Do I regret working for this company? Not really. It was an easy way to get a working visa and I had great company with my friends there (Nothing beats movie and karaoke nights with fellow Filipinos). I just had to leave at some point because it’s a really not a good place career-wise.


Company 2: The Good Place

The second company I worked for in Japan is an e-commerce company whose Engineering team is mostly composed of foreigners. This company really helped me develop my software engineering skills and gave my career a great push. This company has good business relationships with Rakuten, Google and Yahoo.

Pros:

  • Little to no Japanese language requirement since the team communicates in English.
  • Good salary and great salary increase every year.
  • Good and skilled colleagues. I enjoyed a lot of our technical discussions. Even our non work related talks and lunch conversations were nice.
  • Great Manager and Head of Engineering. Tasks and schedules were rarely a problem since both of them are very knowledgeable with software development.
  • Meetings are only held when necessary. We use Slack for communications.
  • Great work life balance. You can work at home 1 day per week if you want.
  • The technology stack is good and as long as you can properly document and do it, you are free to use any programming language and framework you like.
  • A year before I left, we started working on Machine Learning and Blockchain related projects.
  • Free good coffee.

Cons:

  • The business model of the company started to go bad. This is mainly because our e-commerce website is pretty much dependent to paid traffic from Yahoo and Google. In our defense, we did try to improve our organic traffic but it just didn’t help a lot.
  • The Sales and Engineering team has a cultural difference. It doesn’t happen all the time but sometimes you feel there is a communication issue.

I stayed for this company for 3 years and 6 months and I learned a lot while I was there. The company allowed me to do my tasks how I want the them to be done which is a great thing for a software engineer.

So why did I left this company? I would stay if I like and the company did try to ask me to stay. The thing is, I felt like it was the right time to move. Both my manager and our Head of Engineering already left the company months before I did and it felt like I have no one to learn from anymore.


Company 3: The Better One

Aside from the above mentioned reasons for leaving my previous company, my current also gave a generous on-boarding package to persuade me. Basically all the benefits that I am receiving from my previous company plus more paid vacation leaves, higher salary and nice modest working environment where I’m free to do whatever I want as long as it’s aligned with the business goals of the company.

Being a FinTech company, most of our projects requires extra security considerations. Right now, we tackle finance problems with the use of Machine Learning, Blockchain and Cryptography. Kinda nice set of technologies to work with specially nowadays. Japan is laidback in terms of using newer technology, most of the companies I know are using Java and PHP/Wordpress for their systems.

Pros:

  • We are a start up company but backed by a big company.
  • We work with the tools and technology that we want and we are free to do Research and Development.
  • Great benefits and salary which surpass the package I received from my previous company.
  • Same work life balance and no unnecessary meetings so far.
  • Great boss and colleagues.
  • Nice coffee machine where I can drink much needed coffee.
  • Office is in Central Tokyo. Restaurants are a little pricey but we have a great selection for lunch outs.

Cons:

  • We are a start up company so it is a bit risky. We need to make sure that we can create services that the Japanese people will want to use.

I have been working for this company for about 5 months now and it is still going great. We had an issue with our first project related to Japanese regulation but we have a great team so I believe we will be able to finish it on schedule.

We’re only a few people working in our team here in Tokyo and we share the office with our sibling company. I’m new to the company but they have been very welcoming and helpful. We had company brainstorming sessions held in Karuizawa Prince Hotel last November 2018 which was a nice experience.


So there you go, this is the summary of my Software Engineering life here in Japan so far. Do I like working in Japan? Hell yes!

Language barrier and cultural differences will always be a nuisance at first but I think as long as you are openminded, you will have a good time working here in Japan.

I am really lucky to have worked in these companies (even in Company 1) and I hope you find a good working place here in Japan too because it’s really nice in here. Enjoy working but enjoy exploring Japan at the same time. We need more work life balance here for everyone.

If you have comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to comment below. Have a great day!

Cost of Living in Tokyo 2019

No doubt the cost of living in Tokyo is one of the highest in the world. It even ranks as #1 in Asia for Highest Cost of Living Index (2019) according to this site.

Here is an estimated breakdown of my current expenses so you’ll get the feel of how much you are expected to prepare every month. I live alone but I have friends who visit and stay sometimes.

A) Monthly Rent and Utilities Cost in Yen
Apartment Rent
2DK layout; 35sqm
90,000
Electricity (in winter time) 5,000
Water 2,000
Gas (in winter time) 3,000
Mobile Phone
Sim Only Contract
3,200
Home Internet
FLET’S Hikari fiber; 1Gbps
5,000
Total per month 108,200
B) Meal Expenses (Work days) Cost in Yen
Breakfast 300
Lunch 1,000
Dinner 800
Total in 21 days 44,100
C) Meal Expenses (Non Working days) Cost in Yen
Lunch 800
Dinner 800
Total in 9 days 14,400

Total Monthly Expenses = A + B + C.

= A) 108,200 + B) 44,100 + C) 14,400
= 166,700 yen (or ~80,000 pesos) per month

Remember the estimate above doesn’t include recreational expenses like travel, dining and drinking out with friends, and buying furnitures and other stuff.

Note: In Japan, drinking parties with colleagues could happen a lot more often than you expect. You can refuse to join but joining helps to “build” team spirit.

Living in Tokyo

I’ve been living in Tokyo (in Suginami and Setagaya) for about 4 years now (and another 2 years in Yokohama). It definitely costs a lot more to live here in Tokyo specially when you compare it to living in Metro Manila. Before I moved here in Japan (Mid 2013), I remember I could live with a monthly budget of 30,000 pesos.

I live in a residential area of Tokyo but I work in Central Tokyo (Nihonbashi). Lunch in Central Tokyo on work days are expensive but I work as a Senior Software Engineer on a great international company so it’s not really a concern for me right now. That’s also a reason I have some leeway on the size of my apartment even though I live alone.

My apartment is 2DK which means I have 2 bedrooms, a dining+kitchen (DK) room, and a separate area for bathroom and laundry. It is 7 minutes from the nearest station.

Reducing the estimate above is very possible. For example, instead of renting a 2DK apartment, you can also rent a smaller studio type one (e.g.1K or 1R) which costs from 50,000 yen to 70,000 yen. Even cheaper if you are willing to walk more from the station. You can also go for a sharehouse which is also cheaper than having your own apartment. A sharehouse is like dormitory. You rent your private bedroom but the living is shared. You may or may not have your own private bathroom.

You can also cut expenses by preparing and cooking your own food. Buy ingredients in supermarkets and prepare your lunch and dinner ahead of time. I’m not sure how much you will save from this but I guess it will be about 20-30% on your food expenses.

Living in Tokyo is financially hard specially for us Filipinos since most of the time we have families who we need to support back in the Philippines. I’m single but I send money to my parents every month.

There you go. You now have an idea on how expensive living in Tokyo is. If you have questions, feel free to comment or send me a message.

OFW in Japan: How to get an OEC when you just moved to another company?

UPDATE: April 17, 2019

For some reason, I think they changed the rule again. The person who processed my papers said that “verification-only” are only applicable to those who weren’t regular employees to begin with (i.e. those who came as students, dependents, intracompany visa holders, etc.). Otherwise, since I was already registered in the bm online and only changed jobs, I was given the OEC here and don’t have to go to the POEA office in the Philippines.

Ish (from the comment section)

Source: https://thefilipinogaijin.com/2018/10/16/ofw-in-japan-how-to-get-an-oec-when-you-just-moved-to-another-company/comment-page-1/#comment-96


If you’re living far from the POLO Tokyo office, I recommend you call or email them first to check the latest OEC procedure. Here is the Tokyo POLO office’s contact page.


Original Post: October 16, 2018

Recently, the POEA just released a new resolution about changing the process of obtaining a OEC.

I went to the POLO office in Tokyo just to found out that they recently changed the procedure and now I need to go to the Philippines POEA office to get an OEC.

What are the changes?

  1. Tokyo POLO will now need to verify your employment contract
  2. There will be no issuance of OEC in Tokyo POLO. They will only verify your employment contract then you will need to present it to POEA in the Philippines to get an OEC.

Who are affected by this change?

  1. OFW who are not yet registered in the Balik-Manggagawa Online Processing System (bmonline.ph).
  2. OFW returning to Japan the first time after you moved to a new company (i.e. change employer).

What do you need to do?

  1. You need to prepare the following documents
    • Copy of photo page of your passport (original to be presented; valid at least 6 months before your intended departure)
    • Copy of Residence Card (with valid visa)
    • Copy of Insurance Card (original to be presented)
    • Signed written statement (letter form) addressed to Labor Attaché Marie Rose Escalada (indicating all necessary details how you were able to enter Japan and manage to get a job/change employer)
    • Employment Contract (signed by you and your employer; in English or with a signed English Translation)
    • Employment Certificate or proof of existing employment such as payroll slip or valid company identification card (if you’re working for more than 6 months for the said employer)
    • Release letter or Employment Certificate issued by the previous employer
    • Company Registration “Tokibo Tohon” (with English translation; signed by translator)
  2. Go to Tokyo POLO and submit the documents
  3. After they verify your Employment Contract, schedule an appointment using bmonline.ph.
  4. Submit the verified Employment Contract in a POEA office and receive your OEC (Note: there are POEA satellite offices so you don’t need to go to the one in Mandaluyong)

Yeah, I know. That’s a lot of documents, right? Shoganai 🙂

You can read the actual resolution document in here.

PS: You might notice that the documents in the resolution document is not the same with the one I listed above, but those are the list of documents Tokyo POLO just asked me to submit when I did my last visit there. Feel free to contact them if you want to make sure.