Japan Advisor Timothy Langley on the games that companies play when they want to disadvantage foreigner professionals in Japan.

Worth a read, this one is Part 2 of a four part series.

According to Langley, the ruse goes like this. After the deal has already been made,

[t]he Target is now told by his Handler (after the decision to join has essentially been made) that “in order to satisfy Sydney’s requirements because, you know, wink-wink, they just don’t understand the difficulties of employing in Japan”, that the Employment Agreement is only a one-year contract.

They will wax eloquently about how,

“Everyone… I mean EVERYONE had to start with this one-year contract. BUT DON’T WORRY! It is just a formality you see because look! I am still here! And besides, we know you would never leave a secure, seisha-in position to join us for just one year. Don’t worry…. this is a career-track for you, we are certain you will do fabulously… look how much we spent just to locate and recruit you!”

This rollout is a slight variation to the traditional “Here in Japan, we trust each other, not like in your country where snarly, meaningless, too long, written contracts are required. Believe me, I will take care of you; here, let’s shake on it.”

Here is the dilemma for a foreigner in Japan: an employment contract need not be in writing to create the employment relationship and rights to, and in, a job. BUT, if you want any kind of protection that you do, in fact, have a job, you need some kind of evidence to show the immigration department when you renew your stamp. “Let’s shake on it” is as good as a telephone promise for evidence, or any oral agreement. When paper comes out in the deal though, the manipulations begin. Companies doing business in Japan get very creative with paper—and I’m not talking about origami.

You always need one more step of protection. Other evidence that shows the deal is what it really is.

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