Author: Onomatopoeia

[Blog] Good Language Skills: the Most Necessary Tool to Succeed in the Tourism-oriented Japan

A second-rate developed country as a cultural hub

Looking back on history, you’ll find Japan is the only country that has never been under the control of foreign countries.  It is often pointed out that it has much to do with Japan’s topographical and historical features.  Surrounded by the sea on all sides, it was long protected from foreign invasions.  And it used to be extremely limited in interchanges with foreign countries by the “sakoku” seclusion policy during the Tokugawa Shogunate.  These two factors contributed to keeping Japan homogeneous, and the people even didn’t hesitate to put “Japanese” spin on the foreign cultures they had embraced.  I’m not sure if these historical backgrounds are to blame or not, but Japan has long been low in the world ranking of “foreign languages competency”.  Japan still hasn’t developed its social systems in various aspects decent enough to welcome foreign visitors with open arms.

The term “foreigners” synonymous with highly-skilled scientists and engineers?  

Japanese people used to assume that foreign visitors have high educational backgrounds and belong to major global businesses.  This unilateral assumption made the country delay the development of laws to court foreigners seeking to have jobs in Japanese companies.  An increasing number of Japan-based companies, however, are open for foreign job applicants these days and offering them many kinds of job openings.  Still, in my opinion, given the stringent criterion that Japanese hirers require job seekers to meet, joining a major company as a regular worker in your country and then being transferred to the Japanese-affiliated office will be the ideal choice if you really want to work in Japan.

Jobs wanted here now 1: Interpreters/Translators 

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Over the past decade, the Japanese government has been trying to do a lot of things aimed for being a tourism-oriented country.  Especially, to raise the levels of students’ overall English skills, language curriculums have been revised drastically in the teaching guidelines phased in since 2012 for public schools across the country, focusing more on improving their communicative abilities on the target language.  In spite of those efforts, however, results haven’t been yielded in a way that satisfies everyone.  Not only that, the shortages of English( and other languages )-speaking interpreters or translators haven’t been fully resolved yet either even after Tokyo was officially chosen as the host city of the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Having said that, I think it’s preposterous to lower the levels of language proficiency tests in order to just increase the number of “fluent” speakers of the target languages.

So if you have a good command of some foreign languages including English other than your mother tongue, becoming a quality expert of multiple languages will be the first and sure fire step to take.  Rather, the mere fact that you are bilingual or multilingual can help you find easier access to the interpreting or translating jobs.  It is one of the most popular jobs to help Japanese staff members unsure of speaking English language-wise in public events held in local areas.  On top of that, language-related jobs, especially English-related one, are always in short supply for other service businesses such as restaurants, retail shops or hotels.

Jobs wanted here now 2: Introducers of traditional cultures

There are more other jobs suitable for foreign people than the above mentioned interpreting or translating jobs.  Introducing the traditional manners and customs of the country you come from can also be a potential business.  For example, with the growing number of people from Muslim countries visiting major cities in Japan, halal foods are in higher demand.  But you’ll find it hard to find a restaurant serving halal dishes even in Tokyo.  This is because there are few qualified Japanese chefs who have accurate knowledge about halal foods.  If you are a professional chef from an Islamic country, giving Japanese cooks interested in halal foods professional instructions on the cooking know-how can be a great chance to even start your business of introducing the food culture of your country.

Jobs wanted here now 3: Apprentices in traditional craftwork businesses 

Japanese craft works may be business areas you can find it interesting to engage in.  Actually, attracted by how deep the world of Japanese-style art crafts is, some foreign people are involved as apprentices with the maintenance of the long-established businesses of artifacts.

If you are a professional carpenter in your country, you’ll be able to be a great help by assisting your Japanese counterparts in their carpentry jobs.  That will also give you a great opportunity to be a part of creating a new tradition in Japanese architecture by incorporating some skills grown through your career as a carpenter into the traditional Japanese wooden buildings.  In addition, those professional infusions will also make people review the significance of handing down the traditional carpentry skills and cultures.  I think it will be a cultural “synergy” effect.

Jobs wanted here now 4: Medical staff members

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Foreign medical staff members may be in high demand in hospitals and other medical facilities.  When you get sick or meet with an accident on a trip abroad, you’ll be in good hands with anyone who can talk with you in your mother tongue.  It isn’t easy to describe how you feel when you are suffering from migraine and how bad your pain, dull, stabbing or tingling, feels from your stomach ache, isn’t it?  I gave birth to my son when I was in the US.  All the staff members in charge were such nice people.  But in childbirth, anesthesia applied to me made my brain work so poorly that not a single word they gave me in a rapid fire way didn’t come into my mind.  I thought I wish Doraemon had existed and he had given me “Translation Gummy” to understand English they were speaking there.

Closing

Making Japan a successful Tourism-oriented country in Asia–this is a key element for Japan’s national policy.  So I’m sure there will be more jobs in the future for foreign job-seekers than mentioned above.  I hope you will be a great help to make the “new” Japan.


By Onomatopoeia

An instructor English conversation school.
A certified guide-interpreter of English.
A working mother of two children.


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