Terrie's Take 718 -- Strong Job Sectors for Foreigners, ebiz news from Japan

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Jul 15 10:35:48 JST 2013

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E 'S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, July 14, 2013, Issue No. 718


- What's New -- Strong Job Sectors for Foreigners
- News -- Arab oil strategic storage deal renewed
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Sumo in Fukuoka, Tattoos in Tokyo
- News Credits

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We are now in Month 8 of Abenomics, and the media are temporarily
distracted by the upcoming Upper House elections. Given that those
elections are a foregone conclusion, the great experiment in Quantitative
Easing by the LDP is sure to continue unabated from August onwards. Apart
from the obvious froth at the top of the market (large companies who are
exporters, and luxury goods makers/retailers), though, most Small- and
Medium Enterprise (SME) businesspeople, who are the nation's employers, are
still not seeing a pronounced improvement in orders from their upstream
clients nor by consumers. So one wonders how long the trickle-down process
needs to take.

The problem seems to be one of timing and conviction. On the timing side,
we are now just 9 months away from the consumption tax rates going up, and
if there is to be momentum to carry the economy through the downturn
resulting from that event, it needs to happen rather soon. The consensus is
that it isn't the stock market that is going to feed cash to the spending
public and awaken the larger economy, but rather an increase in wages for
Japan's 63m workers is needed. And so far this isn't happening because SMEs
are still hurting.

Instead, as a Robert Walters recent recruiting report points out, companies
which are enjoying a boomlet are hiring contractors and temps on low fixed
wages to fill their extra work loads, and are putting off long-term
investment in people. Yes, there is investment improvement in manufacturing
assets, but this is to be expected as companies sit on huge piles of cash
that they have to do something with. In the meantime, greater employment
and higher wages still seem to be a way off.

Then there are foreigners.

[Continued below...]

----------------------- MORI LIVING -----------------------


The Roppongi Hills Residence is the perfect place for foreign families to
start life in Tokyo, one of the world`s most vibrant cities. Current
residents agree that it provides comfort, luxury and most of all safety for
the whole family.

"It feels like home," says a wife and mother of three. On-site workout and
medical facilities along with easy access to transportation, schools, and a
variety of community events make daily life simple and fun. Completed in
2003 using state-of-the-art construction, the complex includes a high-rise
office tower, movie theaters, restaurants, designer boutiques, and a
world-renowned art museum. The Roppongi Hills Residence is a spectacular
starting point for life in the city.

Please find out more about the Roppongi Hills Residence and other serviced
apartments from MORI LIVING under: http://www.moriliving.com/en/

[...Article continues]

The Japanese government, in its efforts to bring foreigners and foreign
companies back to Japan, has recently floated a balloon that it will
provide a 3-year fast track for new immigrants to get permanent residency
(PR). The advantages of PR are numerous, including getting bank loans to
buy a home and in ease of job mobility. We have spoken before about the
newish immigration points system and how it was adjusted to supposedly make
it easier for skilled professionals, the people that Japan says it really
needs, to move here. The problem is that Japan has to compete with
Singapore, Australia, Canada, and the USA for skilled migrants, and only
the youngest and hungriest want to move here. For these people, the points
system sets unreasonably high barriers on salary in particular, and as a
result the government's goal of bringing in 2,000 skilled immigrants last
year fell far short, with just 434 people qualifying.

So for the time being, while it is incredibly easy for a foreigner to move
to and work in Japan, there is very little job flexibility/mobility for
most people. This means that as a job seeker wanting to move to Japan, you
need to choose well before coming, and tailor your pre-Japan experience and
qualifications accordingly.

Just what jobs are easily accessible to foreigners in July, 2013?
Especially which ones will pay well enough to let you to develop your
career? Well, for the time being forget about foreign banks. After all the
bloodletting of the post-Lehman period, followed by the departure of senior
managers to Singapore and HK after the 3/11 earthquake and radiation scare,
our estimate is that the banking sector is less than 50% of the size it was
in 2007. Possibly even smaller. The Robert Walters report concurs with
this, and notes that most hiring in the sector is for contractors and other
temporary staff. Trading volumes are way up, but few people in the
financial sector seem to believe that the current rally will be long-lived.
Should we read something into this point, we wonder?

Instead, the highest level of jobs activity is coming from a sector that
foreign companies have always leveraged to get an edge on their Japanese
competitors -- IT. Within that space, the hot spots are mobile, web,
application software, data conveyance and storage, and similar disciplines.
When we talk about IT, we're not just talking about engineers, but also
project managers, product managers, and business people who can take IT
concepts and translate them into practical solutions. As the Robert Walters
report says, "The number of bilingual professionals in the market
possessing the required strong business acumen and technical expertise was
[is] extremely limited."

Clearly if you have the language skills (and sometimes not) and can apply
technical concepts, there is a strong demand in Japan for IT. Indeed, as we
have seen in our own business dealings, Japanese companies are no longer
obsessed with having Japanese nationals service their IT-related business
development projects. They just want something that works, and they want it
fast, before some internet upstart eats their lunch online. Robert Walters
hints that the current situation is creating salary increases for
experienced candidates.

If we look at some of the bilingual recruiting websites, like DaiJob.com or
careercross.com, the vibrancy of the sector is confirmed. Roughly speaking
on the Japanese side of those sites, there are twice as many jobs for IT
and technology than there are for any other sector (although DaiJob has a
significant number of manufacturing jobs listed for posts abroad). Robert
Walters reckons that the demand is not just coming from major Japanese
companies expanding overseas but also from venture firms and foreign SMEs
entering Japan, who are launching new cloud-based applications.

Fueling the foreign inbound companies is a flood of new angel and VC money
from Silicon Valley. Think of all those early employees of Google and
Facebook, who now possess bank accounts with balances of US$20m+, and who
fancy themselves as investors and mentors -- then you get the idea. After
doing the US home market, most US start-ups are encouraged by their new
investors to look at Asia as the next happening place. Everyone knows that
the Asians are bypassing the PC era and going straight to mobile and the

A not so distant second job segment for bilingual foreigners is that of
sales and online marketing -- both of which require a consultative approach
(i.e., out-of-the-box thinking) and a no-risk, no-gain attitude --
something that many conservative Japanese job seekers aren't comfortable
with. It is not so unusual these days to see a bilingual foreign sales
leader kicking open corporate clients' doors, flanked by Japanese
colleagues who will then pick up and manage the accounts once the
connection is made and interest solicited.

Another job sector that Japanese workers are typically uncomfortable with
and which is custom-made for risk-taking foreigners is recruiting itself.
We notice that there is a high demand for consultants who can service
Japanese clients going abroad, but the real action is still looking after
foreign companies looking to pull in strategic hires at high salaries.
There is also an emerging demand by some larger companies to have their own
recruiting professionals in-house, since after 2-3 hires, it's cheaper to
have your own staff.

The last sector we'd say is promising for foreigners in Japan right now is
the legal sector. Again, you typically need to be bilingual and experienced
to get the best opportunities, although we frequently hear of industry
experts without Japanese landing positions as well. Now, it is true that
this sector is very much boom-and-bust, with senior management alternating
between the exhilaration of looking after year-long billion-dollar M&A
deals juxtaposed with gut-wrenching monthly drainage of those profits
during the down periods. However, the common wisdom is that with a war
chest of US$2+trn to spend, Japanese firms will continue to snap up
profitable foreign firms while they still can.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive review of the foreign job market.
After all, we haven't covered English teaching, acting, bar tending,
piloting, jockeying (horses), golfing, sports, leisure management, and a
plethora of other jobs that foreigners can and do do in Japan. Rather, we
wanted to connect with the government's own theme of moving the foreign
workforce upstream -- and the fact is that there are opportunities to be
had, but to emphasize the  message that you need to build the experience
and language skills to take best advantage of them.

...The information janitors/


------ English Community Manager for Travel Portal --------

www.japantourist.jp is expanding and is looking for an English native
editor/writer who has previous experience managing online communities and
curating content. JapanTourist.jp was set up to help Japan promote its many
attractions to foreign tourists and in particular to demystify and remove
anxiety by travelers about how to get around and deal with Japan. The site
has been running for 18 months and is now Japan's largest online inbound
travel portal.

The job involves:
- Servicing the needs and concerns of our partners around the country
- Working with Technology to prioritize software development of the site
- Working with Sales to harmonize and integrate the efforts of that team
with the Partners
- Curating the best stories (and occasional editing) for display on the top
page of the site
- Working with contributors to help them improve their writing and
photographic efforts
- Creating content ideas and campaigns to get community engagement by
- Creating incentives and campaigns to re-engage dormant contributors

This position is open to full-time (preferred) and part-time (possible)
applicants, including, potentially, applicants not residing in Japan. You
must be able to deal with the many personalities involved in the community
and have a clear sense of mission and have a self-starter attitude.
Japanese capability is helpful but not essential.

Contact: info at japantourist.jp for details.

+++ NEWS

- Arab oil strategic storage deal renewed
- Companies still not hiring more full-timers
- Elderly shoplifting prosecutions exceed minors
- Spiber about to start mass production
- Gree closes four international offices

=> Arab oil strategic storage deal renewed

Interesting to get a peek into international strategic relationships by
Japan from time to time. Apparently Japan has a deal with Saudi Arabia's
Aramco to store up to 3.8m barrels of crude oil in Okinawa, as a strategic
reserve for supply to China, South Korea, and Japan, In return for the
facility, which is provided free of charge, Japan gets first dibs on the
oil if there is an international emergency. The contract was originally
signed in 2010 and apparently was just renewed for another 3 years running
until December 2016. ***Ed: Put into perspective, this oil store is less
than one day's consumption by Japan.** (Source: TT commentary from
saudigazette.com, Jul 14, 2013)


=> Companies still not hiring more full-timers

The squeeze on employee costs is still on for most Japanese companies, and
this is amply demonstrated by an Internal Affairs ministry survey conducted
on 1m people. There is now a record number of non-full-timers in the
Japanese workforce -- 20.42m people, or about 38.2% of the overall
workforce, and up 1.52m from the last 2007 survey. Non-full-timers means
part-timers, contractors, and others. By gender, 22.1% of non-regular
workers are male and 57.5% are female. (Source: TT commentary from
japantimes.co.jp, Jul 13, 2013)


=> Elderly shoplifting prosecutions exceed minors

Whether it's a factor of being increasingly desperate or just being slower,
the number of shoplifters aged over 65 who were caught in Tokyo just
eclipsed the number of teenagers caught for the same act. The stats come
from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, who say that 3,321 pensioners were
nabbed, while 3,195 teenagers were. Apparently 70% of the elderly cases
involved the stealing of food, indicative of the increasing levels of
poverty being felt by the aged. (Source: telegraph.co.uk, Jul 09, 2013)


=> Spiber about to start mass production

If you haven't heard about Spiber Inc. yet, you soon will, because the
Tsuruoka-based company has announced that it will start the first factory
for mass producing spider silk in September. The Spiber process involves
taking spider genes and "grafting" them on to bacteria (instead of being
produced by spiders), so as to create hereto unachievable volumes of the
product. Spider silk is 3x stronger weight for weight than Kevlar, and is
flexible and stretches without breaking. Among other things, the material
is seen as being ideal for protective clothing and automotive air bags.
(Source: TT commentary from e.nikkei.com, Jul 8, 2013)


=> Gree closes four international offices

Continuing its pull-back from disastrous forays into foreign markets, Gree
is apparently going to close down four of its overseas offices, including
UK and Brazil. The company still has a viable operation in the USA and
continues to create alliances and new products in Japan, so is expected to
recover. However, if you are a shareholder, you will have done a lot better
investing in DeNA than Gree at this stage. (Source: TT commentary from
e.nikkie.com, Jul 10, 2013)


NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of
posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.


------ The Robert Grondine Memorial Scholarship Fund ------

In 2011, we lost a great friend and colleague, Bob Grondine. Bob made
considerable contributions in Japan to the legal and business community as
well as important civic and charitable efforts. Not only was Bob a
wonderful friend, family man and mentor, he was also a role model as a
leader in US-Japan relations.

Among a number of US-Japan causes, Bob was an important supporter and chair
of the Japan Advisory Committee of the United States-Japan Bridging
Foundation, an organization established to grow global leaders through a
program providing scholarships to American college students to study in
Japan. Students designated as Grondine Scholars will be selected for their
ability to emulate Bob's intellect and spirit as well as his dedication to
US-Japan relationship. The fund will keep his mentoring spirit alive and
memorialize his great legacy.

Donations of all amounts are welcome. To learn more, visit
www.bridgingfoundation.org or click on the link below. Thank you.



=> BiOS, a leading bilingual IT services and resourcing company, is
actively marketing the following positions for customers setting up or
expanding in Japan, as well as other employers of bilinguals.


BiOS is urgently looking for an Account Manager with experience in
recruiting and account management for IT infrastructure service delivery,
at our BiOS office in the Minato-ku area. The candidate will be responsible
for supporting the continued development and management of our existing
clients, and serving as the BiOS front line and primary point of contact
for new clients and onsite staffs, as well as networking and developing
opportunities with potential clients. You will also be responsible for
providing a permanent recruitment support.

Due to the technical nature and demanding work environment, this position
is suitable for someone with solid experience in recruiting, sales, account
management, or similar client-facing tasks, preferably in IT. In addition,
since this role requires direct communication with both internal staffs and
clients who are bilingual in English and Japanese, fluent English and
Japanese will be required.

Remuneration is JPY3.6m - JPY4.5m plus commission, depending on your
experience and skill level.


- Web Designer, Japanese ecommerce services provider, JPY5M - JPY11M
- Assistant Manager (Network Operations Team), global ISP, JPY5M - JPY6M
- Project Coordinator, global payment services provider, JPY7M - JPY9M
- Helpdesk Support Engineer, Japanese IT services provider, JPY3M - JPY4M
- Technical Support Engineer, medical equipment services provider, JPY4M -

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to: tomohiro.kimura at biosjp.com.
Check out the BiOS web page for other jobs: www.biosjp.com/careers.php.

** BiOS Job Mail

Every 2 weeks BiOS sends out a regular communication to its job seeking
candidates, called BiOS Job Mail. Every edition carries a list of BiOS's
current and most up-to-date vacancies, with featured entries containing a
short job description and every job being linked to the main entry on the
BiOS home page. Regardless of whether you are unemployed and searching,
thinking about a career change, or just curious to know if there is
something out there that might suit you better, the BiOS Job Mail
newsletter is an easy and convenient way for you to stay informed. If you
would like to register for the BiOS Job Mail, or to find out more, please
email tomohiro.kimura at biosjp.com.



------------------ ICA Event - July 24th-------------------
Speaker: Dr Greg Story, President, Dale Carnegie Training Japan

Title: "Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm - How to Create Engaged Employees"

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/

Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members). Open to all No sign ups
at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: RSVP by 5pm on Sunday, July 21st. Venue is The Foreign
Correspondents' Club of Japan




In this section we run comments and corrections submitted by readers. We
encourage you to spot our mistakes and amplify our points, by email, to
editors at terrie.com.

=> No corrections or comments this week.



=> Sumo Practice in Dazaifu, Fukuoka
A once in a lifetime chance to watch Hakuho train

Hidden behind Dazaifu's Tenmangu Shrine and the Kyushu National Museum is a
lesser known tourist site where men train in their special art every day,
to the point of brutal exhaustion. This is Dazaifu's sumo stables.

I've always seen sumo wrestling as a bit of a joke. It's just a competition
to see which obese man in a diaper can toss the other guy out of a ring
first right? Wrong. What I saw were men training hours and hours a day,
going through incredible amounts of pain, all to build themselves up for
those precious few seconds they have on stage to show they're the best.

I was incredibly lucky to have been taken on a school trip to Dazaifu. We
were shown Dazaifu Tenmangu and the beautiful Komyozenji Garden, then we
were taken up a path to what looked like an abandoned stable. A moment
later, a couple of sumo wrestlers walked out in lavish kimonos. Their
beautifully set hair and the dramatic colors of their kimonos gave off an
incredible aura of pride. We would later find out that these men were among
the top contenders of the sumo tournaments.


=> Three Tides Tattoo
Getting inked in Tokyo

Japanese society holds quite a disdain for people with tattoos. When many
Japanese think of a person with body art, visions of black suits, missing
pinky fingers and a certain organized crime syndicate pop into their minds.
Beware: certain onsen (hot springs), golf resorts and gyms will not allow
entry to guests with ink. Those with visible art will also have a difficult
time landing a bank loan. Yet, despite the everlasting notion of tattoo
discrimination, Western-style tattoo shops are cropping up around the
nation and the idea of tattoos as fashionable body art, rather than as a
symbol of crime connections, is becoming increasingly popular.

It was due time I got yet another tattoo. Three Tides Tattoo, with two
locations in Osaka and Tokyo, is world-renowned and talked about in a
number of art, culture and tattoo-centric publications. Recently VICE
produced a segment called "Tattoo Age" chronicling tattoo artists around
the world -- and Mutsuo of Three Tides was one of the subjects.




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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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