In 2002 I went to work in Japan and learn Japanese. I have learned a lot about the Japanese language and culture, and about living and working in Japan. If you want to do this too, then I hope you will find this information useful.

Reporting illegal immigrants

Many people try to use this website to report people who they believe are working or living in Japan illegally. Instead of reporting it here, you should use the official government channels.

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Cheap accommodation in Yokohama

The Mainichi Daily News has an interesting article on Cheap accommodation in Yokohama. There is a lot of inexpensive accommodation in the Kotobuki district of Yokohama’s Naka-ku, and it’s being promoted as a good place for foreigners to stay. “Since June, about 70 foreign visitors from 15 countries including Sweden, Italy and Malaysia have stayed in the area, paying as little as 3,000 yen a night for self-catering accommodation. The area is popular among overseas guests because it is close to tourist spots such as Chinatown and Yamashita Park.”

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Japan ranked 11th in Human Development

Japan has dropped from ninth place to 11th place in the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI ranks 177 countries according to the health, education and living standards of the people who live there. The top ten countries in the list are mostly the rich northern and western European countries, with Australia and Canada in the top five and the USA in tenth place, just ahead of Japan.

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Japan’s population is shrinking

Japan’s population is starting to decline. The population in both May and June this year was less than the same months last year — that’s the first time since World War II that this has happened in consecutive months. Overall, Japan’s population fell by about 30,000 during the first six months of this year, thanks to the low birth rate and long-lived population. If the trend continues, it could lead to changes in immigration regulations to try to correct the demographic imbalance.

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Immigration Information Center

The Japanese Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Information Center is the best place to call for all immigration related issues. It’s located in Tokyo inside the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, but you can call them from anywhere in Japan (or, presumably, from outside Japan). The staff there speak a variety of foreign languages.

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Dependent Visa

There has been some discussion in the Visa eligibility section about whether you are allowed to work if you have a dependent visa. The answer is that you can, but only if you apply for permission and get a work permit.

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Japanese government publishing laws in English

The Japanese government is planning to translate more of its laws into English. They will publish English translations of more than 200 laws over the next three years.

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Tokyo still most expensive city

Tokyo is still the world’s most expensive city to live in, according to the latest Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living survey. However, Osaka is no longer in second place on the list; it has been replaced by Oslo in Norway. One of the survey’s editors said that this is probably because Japan has been locked into a pattern of low or negative inflation for some years now as a result of unemployment and a number of economic problems.

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Bank account in Tokyo

I wanted to open a bank account when I first moved to Tokyo. It turned out to be quite difficult: most banks required evidence of a long stay in Japan, such as a working visa or at least an alien card. I had high hopes for Shinsei Bank, since they were the most modern of the big banks and even had an English Internet banking service. Sadly, even they needed to see a valid visa before opening an account.

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Budget Travel Hints

The Japan National Tourist Organisation has a useful little page of Budget Travel Hints. There’s a list of prices of common things in Japan, and information on dining out, transporation and accommodation.

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