A reportage with JETRO: Supporting and encouraging foreigners who work and wish to work in Japan

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  • This time, we had the pleasure to talk with the staff from JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization), which is in charge of encouraging and supporting foreigners in Japan especially when it comes to finding work here.

    JETRO’s missions are diverse and include “Investments from overseas to Japan”, “Support for exporting Japanese agriculture, forestry and fishery products”, and “Support for trade policies”.

    Business Development of Japanese Companies and Foreign Employees

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    However, thanks to this opportunity, Japan Info will be discussing with them a topic that is receiving a lot of attention from foreigners that plan on coming to Japan. We came to JETRO to find out more about “International business development of Japanese companies” as it is an essential factor in supporting the Japanese economy, society, and the country itself due to its lack of natural resources.

    In particular, considering the increase of emerging countries in the past few years, the international business competition has been intensifying yearly and JETRO’s support for companies is becoming more important every year. Their support is focused more on SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) rather than big companies.

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    It goes without saying that human resources are a necessary factor for Japanese companies in order to expand and develop overseas business. However, as there are many Japanese who are not that comfortable when communicating in English, it might be pretty hard to find such international businesses in the first place.

    Therefore, recruiting such personnel is becoming an urgent matter for Japanese companies and to countermeasure that, the number one priority is to train the already existing Japanese employees . In second place, however, is the recruitment of foreigner employees, and lastly the mid-career recruitment of Japanese who are familiar with overseas business.

    JETRO is focused on “advanced foreign human resources”, and helps in distinguishing them from foreigners with specific skills.

    Advanced Foreign Human Resources

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    JETRO is supporting the recruitment of foreign employees, but because there are only a few Japanese who can speak foreign languages in small and medium-sized companies, it becomes mandatory for foreign personnel to be able to communicate in Japanese.

    In addition, JETRO positions foreign employees who can speak Japanese and take on international business as “highly-skilled foreign personnel”, distinguishing them from foreign nationals with specific skills.

    The term “highly-skilled foreign HR” basically refers to foreigners who graduated from universities in Japan or overseas and engaged in sales, oversaw researchers, engineers or overseas expansion in Japanese companies etc.

    Such skillful people are the ones that big companies really want to hire, and since nowadays Japan has many understaffed companies, it makes it more difficult for SMEs to find such employees.

    Therefore, JETRO’s role in supporting foreigners and its two missions are Japan Info’s main subjects to cover in this interview.

    The Support Measures

    As competition for international human resources has intensified in recent years, welcoming talented foreigners has become a national measure that many are making efforts to see it happen.

    As an example, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has the “Job Fair for Overseas Students”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is making an effort in “Japanese Language Education Overseas”, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is having “International Student Employment Fairs”, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has the “International Student Employment Promotion Program”.

    The support measures provided by JETRO include:

    (1) a web portal where measures of related ministries and agencies are summarized

    (2) advice and consultation for companies by coordinators

    (3) provide contact points between foreigners and companies.

    As mentioned above, some of the efforts made include job fairs for overseas students by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Japanese Language Education Overseas (also known as MOFA), the International Student Employment Promotion Program(MEXT).

    A platform has been set up within JETRO with a purpose of sharing information and a collaboration among these various measures.

    Now, one of the measures taken is represented by the information that has been centralized on the web portal and disseminated to foreign professionals.

    Such talented foreigners are a must-have for large companies in Japan who already lack personnel, and it’s very difficult for SMEs to find such people without making lots of efforts. In December 2018, the Japanese government set up a platform to promote the advancement of high-skilled foreigners at JETRO along with the SMEs.

    Making people see

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    Since I mentioned the support methods above, here is a more detailed explanation regarding them:

    1. The web portal contains not only information from each of the above-mentioned ministries and agencies (system information and event information) but also information from companies interested in recruiting foreigners.

    At the moment, information is mainly provided in Japanese, but an English version of the site will also be available starting April 2019 in order to increase the informational sources in English and offer a better comprehension for foreigners.

    As Japan Info also introduces many companies that are actively recruiting foreigners, we suggest checking them out now. You might find something suitable for you.

    The whole purpose of the web portal is basically to allow people to have more information. As I said, the information is only available in Japanese, but they want to make it available in English for those who can’t speak Japanese so it is possible for you to find a company you like and suits your work values.

    2. In comparison with large companies, SMEs are not used to recruiting foreigners, which is why JETRO coordinators can help them try a different approach. For example, by giving advice on treatment and welfare for foreigners, advice on salary regulations and personnel evaluation system, support for acquisition and conversion of status of residence, and advice on cross-cultural communication.

    3. Provides the contact point where foreigners and companies can actually connect with each other.
    As for Job Fairs, you can check out the event calendar on the web portal, so try looking it up.

    In addition, JETRO has partnered with several universities in Japan to hold exchange events between small and medium-sized companies and foreign students and organize study tours. Furthermore, internships with foreign organizations are also an option for foreigners that wish to work in Japan. Specifically, there is a cooperation with the Hanoi University of Trade in Vietnam and also with the Bangkok Bank in Thailand.

    I think that by receiving advice beforehand, foreigners can be at ease when coming here. Additionally, thanks to the information provided, foreigners will stay away from scammers and illegal companies.

    Lastly, I would like to introduce you to the web portal:

    JETRO Web Portal

    The information related to companies that JETRO is providing represents the companies’ own interests, and that they are mainly trying to give more information to foreigners who are planning to come to Japan for work.

    Hopefully this will be useful for those who plan on coming to Japan. We will keep following this topic and bringing more information when available.

    JETRO Official Website

    “Open for Professionals,” the portal site for utilizing highly skilled foreign professionals in Japan News Release