Sep 4, 2010

Work in Japan for a non-native English speaker

I know that most of the people who are browsing the net in search of any job for foreigners in Japan encounter these two obstacles:
  1. "We are searching for a native English speaker"
  2. "We are searching for a bilingual" (in English and Japanese or in Chinese in Japanese majorly)
OK, but I am neither native speaker, nor my command in Japanese is perfect. Statistics prove the fact that the opportunities for non-native in English (speaking about the so-called "Westerners") are highly limited. From the overall number of 136,000 non-Asian foreigners in Japan (2003), 60,000 are Americans or Canadians, 18,000 British (English and Irish mostly), 11,500 Australians, and about 4,000 Kiwis, which makes it overall around 95,000 native English speakers. This means that in 2003 in whole Japan there were 40,000 Europeans, whose mother tongue is not English. This is about 0,005% of the total population. Don't get me wrong but if you are trying to find job in Japan, you are not from an English-speaking country, and your Japanese is not at least as good as the one that Japanese themselves speak, you have long way to go. I would recommend you to constantly check some sites that me myself was. These include:
If you now open the links and check the job opportunities you will most probably notice that there are mostly "English teaching" and "IT" vacant places. For the first one, the chance for you to be chosen if you are not a native speaker is almost 0. I know a Dutch, who went to Japan to search for job for 3 months (he is fluent both in English and Japanese + some other languages), and no, he could not find any job. Anyway, the pesimism aside,  you COULD find jobs if you are flexible enough. Especially if you are in the field of computer and mobile technologies and if you are good at Java, C++, and the likes, you wouldn't struggle too much in your job hunting. Usually you would be required to be fluent in English and probably a basic level in Japanese would be an advantage. But definitely after the English teaching jobs, the IT ones are in highest number.

As you probably could imagine, I am neither native English or Chinese, nor I speak Japanese, nor I have any serious idea of IT and programming. If you are in the same position as me, you have few opportunities left. There are numerous ads for work in bars, as a model or hostess or even promoter, where you basically just have to shout out some learned by heart phrases and that's all. Of course you could try your luck with the jobs in the field of administration, finance, accounting or even management and marketing, but they require some particular background (as everywhere else in the world) and probably you would need at least some conversational skills in Japanese.

In conclusion, I would suggest that you are persistant and don't give up after some failures. If your dream is to come to Japan, but your Japanese is not that perfect, you will just have to improve it at least to intermediate level if you want to be able to find a proper job. But if you are just an adventure seeker, the only chance for you might be some kind of internship like the one I am on. The two most famous NPOs that are engaged in that activity are AIESEC and ETIC.

I hope I was useful with this article. You could always find me on Facebook (Nyagoslav Jekov) or e-mail (

P.S. If you meet somewhere the word "daijob" or "daijobu", it has nothing to do with job. It means "OK" in Japanese :)

Chin-chin (Cheers in Brazilian Portuguese; discover yourself what it means in Japanese...)


  1. Chiński z native speakerem przez skype za darmo !ński-z-native-speakerem Polecam wszystkim !