Working in Japan

4 Things to Consider Before Quitting Your Job in Japan

From housing to visa to pension, here are four things you need to know before you decide to quit your job in Japan.

Quitting a job anywhere in the world can be stressful. In Japan, there are a few matters that should be taken into consideration before moving onto something bigger and better. Before taking the leap, let’s look at some important topics to think about so that the transition into a new job can be as smooth as possible, in or out of Japan.

1. Housing

Your home, your casa, your heya. This space you’ve come back to each day may not be yours for much longer once you end or break a contract. Many jobs in Japan provide housing for employees – often either apartments or dorms – but the timeframe you must leave after quitting is quite short and therefore it’s important that you have another home lined up.

However, this can be a bit of a complicated process in comparison to other countries. Depending on the region and availability, a landlord or real estate agency may not look too highly upon a potential tenant who does not yet have another job secured. Additionally, there are numerous fees that come with moving in that you want to save up for. Share houses are a cheaper alternative if you need time to save money in between jobs.

2. Visa status and approved activities

Your visa, assuming you are not a Japanese national or permanent resident, is the most important contract you are bound to in Japan, and not properly upholding it can have significant consequences. Technically, it is okay to be in Japan without a job if your visa is valid and you have enough money to sustain yourself. Once you leave your job, you are required to go to immigration and fill out a form stating that you are now jobless, and it is highly recommended that you find another job within 3 months. Failure to do so will not necessarily result in deportation, however, it may make it difficult to renew your visa if it appears that you are not trying to find another job. When looking for work, be sure to check that the new company is willing to help with the visa renewal process when the time comes.

Another contractual duty you are bound to is working within the approved scope of your visa. If you have been approved as a teacher, the visa type is most likely Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services (技術ぎじゅつ人分知識ひとぶんちしき国際業務こくさいぎょうむ) – as the name may suggest, you’ve been allowed to work in Japan because you have an intellectual skill that the local population may be in short supply of. Immigration may let you to engage in activities outside of the current permissions of your visa. If you’re coming to the end of your visa date and interested in a profession outside your visa type, such as art or starting a business, frequent and thorough talks with the immigration office are recommended before leaving your job.

3. Unemployment benefits and insurance

As an employee, you will receive your health insurance from your company. However, once your contract is terminated, you will have the opportunity to enroll in the national healthcare scheme – but this is not automatic. Entering the healthcare system requires a visit to your local city hall and the monthly deductible is determined by your previous job’s salary.

Unemployment benefits are also determined by previous salary. Hello Work is the national agency that handles unemployment benefits, and your company will provide you with the necessary paperwork to bring to their office so that your benefits can be calculated. This process can take a month, sometimes much longer depending on a variety of circumstances, therefore it’s important that you are in a financially secure situation prior to quitting as unemployment cannot be used as a lifeline.

4. Pension

As an employee in Japan, part of your salary has been placed into the national pension system. Either you have been automatically enrolled by your company, or you were required to register yourself with the system; either way, all residents ages 20 – 59 are required to be registered. If your intention is to stay in Japan long-term, then there isn’t anything to worry about. Later in life, your contributions to the system may benefit you. However, if your plan is to return home or go simply elsewhere, you will have the opportunity to receive the money contributed thus far. It is recommended that the claim for funds is received within two years of quitting, and having an active Japanese bank account may make things easier. It is possible to go about the process on your own, though improperly filed paperwork will cause delays and therefore some foreigners use lawyers to expedite the process.

Quitting your job can be an incredibly liberating feeling, whether it’s for a new work opportunity or to satisfy the itch of moving on. Before speeding off to your next phase in life, be sure to consider the points presented in this article: getting your housing in order; ensure your career move is compatible with your current visa; visit Hello Work and city hall for unemployment benefits and health insurance, respectively; and to receive your accumulated pension funds if you’re leaving Japan for good.

Richard Scheno is a freelance writer, master's student, and music producer who divides his time between Tokyo and New York City

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