Certificate of Eligibility for Working Visa in Japan (Artist: literary translator)
Autor wątku: Dylan Jan Hartmann

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Członek ProZ.com
od 2014

tajski > angielski
+ ...

MODERATOR
Jun 10

Hi Japanese Forum!

I've been looking for ways to spend a year (or a few) in Japan, taking my family for a period of time, while I continue my full-time translation workload. I make a comfortable income already, so won't need to be hired locally. I've looked through the visa options and am wondering if applying for a working visa would be applicable for a literary translator? Then, if so, how would one go about obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility?

Your advice on thi
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Hi Japanese Forum!

I've been looking for ways to spend a year (or a few) in Japan, taking my family for a period of time, while I continue my full-time translation workload. I make a comfortable income already, so won't need to be hired locally. I've looked through the visa options and am wondering if applying for a working visa would be applicable for a literary translator? Then, if so, how would one go about obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility?

Your advice on this matter would be kindly appreciated.

DJH
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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hongkong
Local time: 10:57
Członek ProZ.com
chiński > angielski
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Difficult Jun 10

I wouldn't say impossible, but it's extremely difficult to do so without a corporate sponsor. The most reliable way is to establish a limited company, which is an investment of 5 million yen plus office rent which is probably around 20k yen/mo.

But either way, it's difficult to justify to immigration that you should be granted a visa when your work does not involve Japanese at all.


Dylan Jan Hartmann
Dan Lucas
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Wielka Brytania
Local time: 03:57
Członek ProZ.com
od 2014

japoński > angielski
Sponsorship Jun 10

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:
I've looked through the visa options and am wondering if applying for a working visa would be applicable for a literary translator? Then, if so, how would one go about obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility?

Hello Dylan. I have had quite a few work-related visas for Japan over the years since I first did an internship there in 1991, but my final stretch from around 2007 onward was largely conducted on a spouse visa. My understanding, which may be flawed, and is certainly that of a layman, is that to get a working visa for Japan you need an existing, bona fide Japanese company to sponsor you.

There are supposedly some potential loopholes, such as establishing your own company in Japan and having that company sponsor you, but that is only likely to work if the company is a genuine business concern, and meets the usual Japanese criteria for a company (setting one up and performing the necessary administration is neither cheap nor easy in Japan, at least by repute).

I don't know of anybody who has succeeded in "self-sponsoring" in the way you describe, and that includes people working in the financial markets on pretty substantial incomes (i.e. people who are not likely to become a burden on the Japanese state). If it were an option that was widely available, I would expect to have seen much more of it.

After all, Japan, is a very wealthy, sophisticated and safe country - a lot of people would like to live there. I remember talking to a person in Taiwan whose brother owned the (large, listed) company I was visiting. Her retirement plan was to buy a condominium in Tokyo and live there, ostensibly as a director of the Japanese branch of the company. I don't know whether it would have worked or not.

The fact is that Japan, at least in the past four decades, has not been an easy place for which to get official permission to work, especially for the long term. There is a strong tradition of English teachers popping back and forth on tourist visas, a practice to which the authorities have generally turned a blind eye. That approach might be feasible for a 21-year old living out of a backpack and staying in a single room in a shared house somewhere. It's not a viable option for somebody with a family.

Over the past decade or so there has been a sharp increase in internships as well, aimed at training up people from Southeast Asia who work in local branches of Japanese companies, and at supplying manpower for Japanese factories within Japan itself. Again, not really something that is applicable to your situation. I would imagine the simplest approach would be to work for a company, as a translator, in Japan, but in-house jobs are few and far between, especially if you don't already speak/read/write good Japanese. What could you claim to be doing that a local Japanese person could not do?

It may be that I am being too pessimistic. Perhaps somebody with a better grasp of the legal niceties will come along to confirm or reject my interpretation.

Regards,
Dan


Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Członek ProZ.com
od 2014

tajski > angielski
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MODERATOR
NOWY TEMAT
Thanks for the replies Jun 10

Thanks Dan and Lincoln,

I wouldn't be interested in working in-house for another company, as mentioned we're doing relatively well. A 'digital nomad' trip would be as a break from our situation here in Australia, which is comfortable but as we haven't 'brick and mortar' settled down yet and the kids are still little, there are places we could go to explore.

As I see 'Artist' is on the list of acceptable working visa criteria, I was asking whether literary translator (sa
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Thanks Dan and Lincoln,

I wouldn't be interested in working in-house for another company, as mentioned we're doing relatively well. A 'digital nomad' trip would be as a break from our situation here in Australia, which is comfortable but as we haven't 'brick and mortar' settled down yet and the kids are still little, there are places we could go to explore.

As I see 'Artist' is on the list of acceptable working visa criteria, I was asking whether literary translator (same league as an author) would be considered?

It might be interesting to explore this option, I thought.

Registering companies, renting offices seems excessive!

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Wielka Brytania
Local time: 03:57
Członek ProZ.com
od 2014

japoński > angielski
Yes, but Jun 10

Dylan Jan Hartmann wrote:
As I see 'Artist' is on the list of acceptable working visa criteria, I was asking whether literary translator (same league as an author) would be considered?

I understand what you're saying, but I suspect even an "artist" would need sponsorship, unless they were a figure of significant international renown. I have a friend from the US who lives in Japan, and is a fairly successful artist - he has had exhibitions in major department stores, and so on. To my knowledge he has never tried to obtain a visa on the strength of his work.

And I am not convinced that the Japanese authorities would deem a translator to be in the same category as a famous writer. Sorry if I appear to be pouring cold water on your query, but it is an honest opinion.

Regards,
Dan


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hongkong
Local time: 10:57
Członek ProZ.com
chiński > angielski
+ ...
Bottom line Jun 10

Whether you are eligible as artist or not doesn't matter (and I believe the answer is no). Here's the bottom line: how do you justify you being in Japan on a work visa?

As far as I can tell, you're not doing anything that has anything to do with Japan whatsoever. Period. Full stop. If you worked with Japanese or had any sort of relationship with Japanese institutions and publishers, then there might be a conversation to be had, but until you can answer that question there is nothin
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Whether you are eligible as artist or not doesn't matter (and I believe the answer is no). Here's the bottom line: how do you justify you being in Japan on a work visa?

As far as I can tell, you're not doing anything that has anything to do with Japan whatsoever. Period. Full stop. If you worked with Japanese or had any sort of relationship with Japanese institutions and publishers, then there might be a conversation to be had, but until you can answer that question there is nothing to explore.

And this isn't just for Japan - any country that you're seeking an immigration visa for is going to be asking the same question.

I could refer you to an immigration lawyer, but I'm quite certain that they'll be telling you the same thing.
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Dan Lucas
 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Członek ProZ.com
od 2014

tajski > angielski
+ ...

MODERATOR
NOWY TEMAT
Thanks Lincoln Jun 10

How did you stay in Japan?

 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hongkong
Local time: 10:57
Członek ProZ.com
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Company Jun 10

I made the investment to establish a translation company and got a business manager visa. My plans are actually on hold right now because of COVID, but I did a lot of work with the immigration law firm to prove that the business is going to be legitimate. And I still have to keep the company in the black year-to-year to get the visa renewed.

 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Członek ProZ.com
od 2014

tajski > angielski
+ ...

MODERATOR
NOWY TEMAT
This seems like the way to go. Jun 10

This certainly seems the way to go but it'd be more of a long-term plan if we went ahead with it this way. Very well worth the thought.

Does your business handle local clients or was it just set up for you as a freelancer with international clientele?

Cheers,
DJH


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hongkong
Local time: 10:57
Członek ProZ.com
chiński > angielski
+ ...
Clients Jun 10

Like I said, my plans are on hold; I was planning to be in Japan by this time but right now I'm not. I did already have a couple of Japanese clients, and I'm planning to transfer international clients to the company as well. The reality is that I net less as a company than I would as a pure freelancer.

 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Wielka Brytania
Local time: 03:57
Członek ProZ.com
od 2014

japoński > angielski
Admin Jun 10

Lincoln Hui wrote:
The reality is that I net less as a company than I would as a pure freelancer.

That's not the case in my jurisdiction, but obviously these things will vary and Japan's situation is very different to that of the UK. I do find that there is significantly more admin involved when clients are dealing with you as a corporate entity than when they deal with you as a freelancer.

Just as an example that I may have used before, my friend, who owns a small company in Japan, had a minor tax issue that would have been resolved by a few clicks or an email in the UK. Instead he had to visit the tax office, in person, on a weekday, for several hours. They "asked" him to bring CASH for the seven-figure (in yen) payment he was expected to make.

Lincoln will already be aware of these issues and will have taken them into account. Dylan may not fully grasp what is involved. Establishing and operating a business in Japan is not easy and (I firmly believe) is not intended to be easy. And services to corporates frequently cost an arm and a leg.

I remember an amusing anecdote, told to me by a senior manager at a very large US fund-management company, which illustrates the point. This firm was considering relocating their head office (which they rented) to a more modern building in another part of Tokyo. They submitted a request to their head office, including a quote from the relocation company, probably Nittsu or the like.

The amount of money involved was so much larger than the people in the head office thought possible for a relocation that they initially assumed the Japan branch was proposing to actually purchase a entire building. No, no, said Tokyo, it's just that things are kinda expensive here. Needless to say, they're still in the original building.

I concur with Lincoln, by the way: the key issue will be proving that what you propose to do has some relevance and therefore benefit to Japan, something that a local employee would struggle to do. In my day, the catch-all category was "international specialist" or something similar. Japan's basic approach is not exactly hostile, but it's definitely one of "OK, prove to me that you're worth it" rather than "Sure, come on in!". Of course, that is exactly why tiny Singapore, which did roll out the red carpet, has been so much more successful in attracting buyside firms.

Anyway, you're in no rush, I assume, so you can take your time. Consider also education. Local primary schools will not speak English, and international schools are expensive.

Regards,
Dan


 


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Certificate of Eligibility for Working Visa in Japan (Artist: literary translator)

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