Staying in Japan? The 12 Things You Need To Do

Summer has at last come. The rain has stopped, the students are looking forward to their vacation, and your time with JET is coming to a close. Though you will be leaving JET, you have decided to not leave Japan. Whether you've been on JET for one year or five, you’re probably quite busy right now trying to tie up lose ends and prepare for the next stage of your life in Japan. You will have a lot on your plate for the next month or so, and not all of it is obvious or straight forward. To help you sort everything out, here are The 12 Things You Need To Do upon leaving JET.

  1. Get in touch with, and get involved with your local chapter of JETAA

    There are three chapters in Japan: JETAA Tokyo , JETAA Eastern Japan , and JETAA Western Japan . They are great resources for helping you make the transition to post-JET-life. If you’re reading this article, it looks like you’ve already completed this step! Sweet!

  2. Request a “Letter of Release” or rishoku-todoke 離職届 from your BoE/employer

    Your next employer may require that you submit one, and immigrations may require one as well for visa renewal. A Letter of Release states that you have finished your work with your current employer, and if requested, also states the period of your employment, your wages, the type of your employment, your position, and your reasons for leaving. Employers are required by law (Labor Standard Law Article 22) to provide a Letter of Release if requested, so if your employer is reluctant to provide you with one, be firm and insist.

  3. Get in touch with your successor.

    Send an email or letter explaining the basic circumstances of your town, the general duties of your position, what your living situation is, what he or she should bring, etc. If you are bitter about your experience on JET, try not to let it rub off; give your successor the opportunity to make his or her own impressions about the town. Don’t lie or keep your successor in the dark though; if there are stabbings at your school every week, your successor probably wants to know. Answer any questions your successor might have. If you have any possessions you will not be taking with you when you move, arrange with your successor if he or she would like to buy or inherit them.

  4. Dispose of unwanted belongings responsibly

    If you have a bike or car you will not be selling or taking with you, do not just abandon it. Ask your BoE or PA for help on how to dispose of it.

  5. Tie up loose ends

    Pay your final bills, cancel any services or utilities the next person will not be using, close unwanted bank accounts, and give your BOE your new contact info. The last step is especially important in case you’ve forgotten something, and they need to forward any mail (or bills) to you. Be sure to update your billing address for any services that you will be taking with you as well (e.g. cellphone).

  6. Move out

    Unless you’ve amassed massive amounts of belongings, takkyubin (宅急便 home delivery/private post) is a remarkably easy and surprisingly cheap way to move. You can either drop off your packed belongings at a convenience store for pick up, or call a delivery company to have them send a truck to your house. You will need to pack your belongings yourself of course, but many delivery companies will sell you packing materials if you need them. This includes ridiculously large boxes for your futons. Be sure to request these materials when you call the company requesting a pick-up. Please see the following takkyubin company websites for more information:

    1. Yamato Transport
    2. Sagawa Express

  7. Find a new apartment

    There are a number of ways to go about doing this, some easier than others:

    1. Let your new employer work out your living circumstances for you. If you are joining a private ALT company, there is a good chance that they can arrange housing, or help you find some. This is possibly the easiest option, but not always the best or cheapest.
    2. Find your own place. This may be the hardest, but the most rewarding option. Things to consider are: key money, a finders fee, the initial deposit (which can be ~3 months rent), and whether or not you will need a guarantor. Ask friends, fellow JETAA members, and real estate companies about what is available.
    3. Move into a Leo Palace, or a similar chain apartment. Leo Palace is a real estate company that runs a chain of apartments that can be rented by the month. They don’t require key money, a finders fee, or a guarantor. Apartments are pre-furnished, and depending on your contract, utilities are bundled with your rent. This makes things easier, though the downside is that they do not let you alter your apartment in anyway at all, and the quality depends somewhat on which Leo Palace you are moving into. For more information: http://en.leopalace21.com/

  8. Find a job

    There is a lot to say about this subject, much of which is beyond the scope of this article. Please see the following articles and job finding websites:

    1. Know Your Rirekisho
    2. GaijinPot Job Search
    3. CareerCross Job Search
    4. CareerCross Haken (temp work)
    5. Daijob Job Search
    6. JobDragon Job Search

  9. Register and update your Foreigner Registration Card (gaijin card)

    This must be done at your new city’s town hall within 14 days of moving.

  10. Sign up for health insurance

    Your new employer might take care of this out for you, but if not, you should sign up for National Health Insurance (kokumin kenkou hoken 国民健康保険 or kokumin hoken 国民保険 for short). You will need to do this at your local town hall. It is best to do this when you visit to update your gaijin card. Costs vary depending on your income and on your town.

  11. Update or change your visa

    (Please note that the author is not a legal expert. Immigrations is a complicated subject, so it is best to talk with your PA, new employer, and immigrations directly if you have any questions). Upon leaving JET, you have 90 days to find new employment. The consequences for failing to do so are fairly vague, and depending on which immigrations inspector you ask, you are likely to get different answers. Regardless, it is a good idea to secure employment within 90 days. Upon finding an employer willing to hire you, you will need to update some of your visa paperwork. If you are only changing employers, you will need to register as working for your new company. If the type or your employment is changing, you will need your employer to help you apply for a change in your status of residence as well.

  12. Check out other resources on life after JET:
    1. Life After JET
    2. After JET Guide (CLAIR)

Comments

This was really helpful. I'll keep it in mind as I prepare to move to Tokyo next summer.

Jonathan,
If you have any questions on any of the above, or if you have anything to add, please feel free to let us know!

Excellent list! How might marrying a Japanese national change or otherwise alter this process?

Mark -
Sorry for the late reply, didn't notice your comment until now. I'm not super knowledgeable about the marrying-a-national process, but I imagine that big difference number one will be that you can change your visa to a spouse visa, which I think lets you get pretty much whatever kind of job you want here. It should also make finding an apartment easier, as landlords will be much less likely to reject someone married to a local (who can no doubt also use the local's family as a guarantor, etc.). And if you're interested and qualify in other ways, it might make getting your permanent residency easier, which puts you in line for a whole lot of life easements in matters like getting a credit card, etc. You may also qualify for a slightly higher pay grade at work, so be sure to tell them too.

Everything else probably stays about the same. You definitely still need a gaijin card (though updated with your new "spouse" visa status), you definitely still need a rishoku-todoke, and not leaving a mess behind when you quit JET becomes even more important since you won't leave the country (and they can hunt your family down). Not entirely sure about insurance, but presumably you still have to arrange your own through your work or otherwise.

Cheers,
Ben

I am married to a Japanese national, not too much will change, but you will have better luck with jobs since you no longer need visa sponsorship, and yes you will have much better luck with living arrangements. You will still need a gaijin card, and like Ben mentioned just get it updated with your new visa status by visiting the city hall where you live.

Also worth mentioning is, after being married for 3 years you can apply for permanent residency. This is probably the best perk of being married to a national. Now the time it takes to get approved varies from person to person, but to put it in perpective I applied for mine in April of 2010 and received it in October the same year. Some people may get theirs sooner, others may have to wait longer. There is no standard procedure in Japan and the approval is left to whomever accepted your application. Furthermore, most of the official gov't info you find are just guidelines (outside of the necessary documentation that is).

One more thing to note is that just b/c you are married or have permanent residence does not automatically mean it'll be easier to get a credit card or take a loan. To date I still have not been able to get a credit card. Even with JCB which I heard is easy for most foreigners to get.

For insurance, your place of employment usually has you covered. If not then you will have to either pay out of pocket for the standard social insurance policy, or find your own private insurance. Beyond this you'll have to do the research yourself b/c health insurance in this country is sticky business.

I asked around recently about moving companies (instead of using takyubin). Three big names are:

Nittsu (http://www.nittsu.co.jp/)
Sakai Hikkoshi Center (http://www.hikkoshi-sakai.co.jp/)
Arisan Maaku (http://www.2626.co.jp/)

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