According to both travelers and government departments, Japanese employers can be as slithery as the habu snake.
There are reports of misrepresentation of work opportunities by both Japanese companies and U.S. businesses with branches in Japan. Some travelers to Japan have reported both physical and sexual assault, lack of pay and contract violations in addition to intimidation tactics related to their employment situation.
Here's what you need to do to dodge the work scams.
You must have your visa sorted out ahead of time and have a signed work contract, which will make Japanese officials more likely to help you if you encounter trouble with an employer, before you start working in Japan.
Some travelers make the mistakes of not having the proper documentation themselves, but it's also possible for companies to lure foreigners to Japan by providing incorrect visa and work details. No matter, because once you're in the country working illegally, the Japanese government will find you at fault.
Similar to other Asian countries like China, some work contracts may have fine print that you'll want to read to avoid potentially negative situations. Some contracts include early-termination clauses saying the employee forfeits access to a return plane ticket or pay. Legitimate contracts will include standard requirements under Japanese labor law.
Heavily research your employer, which can include speaking with your country's foreign affairs department to see if it has received praise or protests regarding particular businesses in Japan. You should never have to hand over your passport to any company; bring contracts and documents the employer provided to Japan just in case a problem arises. Also note that jobs such as exotic dancing or serving in a hostess bar are also only allowed under a work visa; you cannot conduct any business while under a tourist visa. The Australian government says some of its citizens have been arrested for working in the entertainment industry in Japan with a tourist visa.
Be wary of any company that asks you to pay recruiting or visa processing fees. Avoid any business that has a P.O. Box and not an actual street address. Research how much others get in salary for your position or area of work to avoid getting underpaid. Again, once you're already over there, it will be that much harder to clear up any miscommunication or issues with your contract.
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