I’ve heard that the only respectable job a white female can get in Japan with a Japanese company is to teach English. Is this true?
Women have a pretty low status in the work force in Japan, and foreigners are looked upon with some degree of negativity. Being a foreign woman gives you a double whammy. Add to that the fact that many Japanese businessmen’s sole contact with “white” women is in hostess bars, it’s not surprising that it’s hard for them to get respect.
Can’t say I can confirm your question, but it wouldn’t at all surprise me if it were true. Of course there will be exceptions, but as far as these generalizations go, it’s probablly more true than not.
My sister taught English and also proof-read advertising copy. She stayed 4-5 years (I think), and did come home with some money. She spent a large amount of time commuting and lived in a tiny apt. I think she enjoyed the experience, overall.
Not so true. I some foreign women with non-English teaching jobs. The majority are working here for foreign companies. However, getting a job with a Japanese company is much more difficult. A lot depends on the kind of job and how easily someone can be found to do it. English teaching jobs are generally the most common and easiest to get, so most foreigners do that.
Regardless of gender, there aren’t too many job opportunities in Japan if you don’t speak fluent Japanese. And if you do speak fluent Japanese in addition to English, chances are your linguistic skills are more valuable than any other professional background. So many such people still go into language related jobs - translation, interpretation, consulting, etc.
Of course being female doesn’t help much in Japan. But no matter how bad the job market is for white females, it’s far worse for Korean and other non-white foreigners.
I haven’t noticed a huge difference in the opportunities for white males and white females (but then, I’m male). Just being non-Japanese is going to put some real restrictions on what you’re welcome (or even legally allowed) to do, and not being able to speak the language is going to cut down the opportunities even further, until pretty much all that’s left is teaching English regardless of what’s between your legs.
You’re best chances for a real career doing worthwhile work (not just serving tea and proofreading your boss’s letters) is at a company that does a significant amount of its business overseas. They’ll probably have more interaction with foreigners, more contact with western business styles and office environments, and so are more likely to treat you as an equal. They’re also more likely to have an actual need for native-level English (or other language) speakers with real job skills (instead of the “hey, wouldn’t we look really stylish and international if we had a foreigner sitting near the front for customers to see when they came in” that was common during the bubble era). I worked briefly as the lone gaijin salaryman in a traditional Japanese office, and it was one of the most miserable jobs of my life: I was kept out of the loop on everything, and only called over when the boss wanted me to take the minutes at meetings with foreign clients. I lasted three months before quitting. I’m now at the Tokyo office of an ad agency that has branches around Asia and a much more open attitude. I’m treated as an equal member of the team and am much happier (although I’m a tad grouchy at having to stay until 3am for the last two days, but that’s probably just lack of sleep).
In addition to teaching and office jobs, there are also some non-standard jobs that can be fun. There are lots of opportunities for both men and women in modelling and acting, as TV companies and ad agencies are always looking for extras so they can do their shooting without needing to go overseas. If you’re a good singer, gospel singers are in demand at hotels and wedding halls. The only job I’ve seen that was strictly men-only was wedding minister, which is too bad because the pay is great. As with office jobs, the more Japanese you can speak, the more that’s open to you.
Also, you didn’t mention where you’re from, but your nationality can affect what visa are available, which in turn can affect the kinds of work you’re allowed to do.
When I was in Japan I briefly worked as a mandolin player at the Anglo-Satsuma museum in Kyushu. My girlfriend worked as an artist’s model (redhead - very unusual so lots of curiosity), and both of us were given money to sit in a TV studio to be some western faces in the audience of a news program.