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What’s the difference between working in Japan and back home?

by Thomasina Larkin

Alan McKinnon
Diplomat, 48 (Australian)
Japan’s regulatory environment — for almost all foreigners wanting to do business here — is opaque. Also, some say employment law is restrictive in how you can downsize or lay off.

Debbie Kilmer
Housewife, 53 (American)
In Japan there are more activities for employees as a group and more of a focus of building a team as a key part of what the company is about. In the U.S. we tend to focus on the individual.

Shaun McKenna
Editor, 29 (Canadian)
Japanese tend to be focused on formalities. People use titles instead of names. There’s even structure in events like welcome parties — people give speeches, toasts and the whole night is organized.

Jenny Dantony
Student, 21 (French)
They work a lot more here and seem to dedicate their lives to it. They place work
before their families and work more hours. People in my home country work less and more efficiently.

Lou Fattorusso
Designer, 46 (American)
We are very limited here. As a “gaijin” being employed in Tokyo, we’re not allowed to get just any job. Employment opportunities by virtue of our visas are limited to teaching and a few other things.

Strings Kozisek
Business owner, 43 (U.S.)
The biggest gripe I hear is that in America you’re given opportunity to climb up the ladder the more you excel in your job, but in Japan — if you stereotype it — age gives you seniority.