Japan sees huge growth in jobs in the “cleaning up the homes of old people who die alone” field

Demand grows more than 10 times in size in just five years as Japanese family dynamics change.

As time passes, technology advances, and economies evolve, certain industries will shrink. For example, electronics manufacturing used to be a huge part of the Japanese economy, but it’s been in contraction for many years, with Casio’s exit from the digital camera game the most recent example.

But on the other hand, some industries can see huge growth due to socioeconomic trends. So if you’re hunting for a job in Japan, and you want to be part of a rapidly expanding field, you might want to consider a position in tokushu soji, or “special cleaning” industry.

What makes the cleaning special? Well, tokushu soji companies come in and clean the homes of senior citizens who have died alone. Back in the old days, this is something that was almost always handled by surviving relatives, often the deceased’s children, and in fact it used to be far more common than it is today for elderly parents to live with their offspring in multi-generational homes.

Things have changed, though. As families become smaller and more people move farther away from home to seek out academic or professional opportunities, the number of seniors in Japan who live alone has been steadily increasing, from roughly 4.1 million in 2010 to 6.55 million in 2016 (according to statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare). In response, there are now over 5,000 companies offering special cleaning services in Japan, which is 15 times as many as there were just five years ago.

Aside from recycling or otherwise disposing of the deceased’s possessions, special cleaning companies have to clean and disinfect the home. Sometimes a significant amount of time will have passed before someone discovered that the resident had passed away, and in addition to using professional-grade cleaners and pesticides, special cleaning staff often wear protective clothing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

While cleaning and waste disposal are the primary services offered, some special cleaning companies have expanded their role to coordinating funeral services. Many also believe that respectful treatment of surviving relatives is part of their duties, and the Special Cleaning Center, and industry group formed in 2013, offers training and certification programs to ensure high-quality service in both the technical and human aspects of the job.

With Japan’s birth rate steadily falling, demand for special cleaning services is likely to continue to grow, as families get smaller and the population gets older. It’s no doubt a difficult job, but it serves a valuable purpose for society, especially when someone passes away and leaves behind six tons of porno mags.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso

Foreigners welcomed to apply for jobs as designers on Nintendo’s new Legend of Zelda game

Why keep the job you have now when you could be creating Hyrule’s forests, dungeons, and monsters instead?

On Monday morning, did you leap out of bed 30 minutes before you’d set the alarm to go off, bristling with excitement at the opportunities presented by getting back to work? Or did you hit the snooze button a half-dozen times, putting off your return to the daily grind for as long as possible?

If you’re in the latter group, it might be time to consider looking for a new job, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more attractive opening than working for Nintendo as a level designer on the company’s new Legend of Zelda game.

Yes, it’s only been a little more than a year since the fantastically successful release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and no, Nintendo has yet to officially announce a sequel or follow-up. Nevertheless, a listing for “Legend of Zelda series level designer” has just been added to Nintendo’s recruiting page, and the details imply that non-Japanese candidates are welcome.

The listing outlines the position with:
● Job description
1. Planning, creation, adjustment, and implementation of game events, field, dungeons
2. Planning, creation, adjustment, and implementation of enemies

● Desired traits
1. Experience and practical knowledge as a game planner for home console video games
2. Confidence in ability to communicate in Japanese on collaborative activities

● Application process
1. Written application
2. Practical Test
3. Interview (two rounds)
4. Signing of contract

The initial contract period is three months, with renewals possible up through the end of the game’s development. Pay is dependent on experience and skill level, and works out to, in yearly terms, somewhere between 4.7 million and 6.8 million yen (US$43,500 and US$63,000). In addition, successful applicants are eligible for a housing allowance of up to 47,500 yen a month for singles and 66,500 yen for those living with dependents, which should help offset some of the cost of an apartment in Kyoto, where the position, and Nintendo itself, are based. Overtime pay and moving expenses of up to 430,000 yen are also part of the package. Work hours are listed as from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a one-hour break and weekends and holidays off, plus summer and New Year’s vacations, as well as other paid days off.

The specific mention of “confidence in ability to communicate in Japanese” is something Nintendo wouldn’t have bothered with if it was only interested in hiring Japanese designers, and there’s a precedent for foreigners being hired to work on the Zelda series. If you’re interested in throwing your hat (a green pointed cap, obviously) in the ring, applications can be submitted here on Nintendo’s website.

Source: Nintendo via Otakomu
Top image: Nintendo

Japanese company is so kind it mails out condolence gifts if it can’t give applicants a job

Getting turned down for a job hurts, but one company wants to do what it can to help job-hunters bounce back from a rejection.

In Japan, as in many other countries, no news is bad news when you’re job hunting. Most companies’ human resource departments operate under a policy of only responding to applicants they’re moving forward with, and if you’re not being offered an interview, odds are you won’t hear anything back from the recruiter after submitting your application.

Impersonal as it may feel, most people just accept this as part of modern business culture. Most Japanese companies are already stretched pretty thin staffing-wise (hence the country’s infamous amounts of overtime work), and when you factor in how many resumes hiring managers receive in the digital age, many companies’ simply don’t have the time to correspond with applicants they’re not going to interview.

A heartwarming exception, though, is Japanese food and beverage company Kagome, which specializes in tomato-based products such as ketchup and tomato juice (and also sometimes partners with Pikachu and the Evangelion anime franchise). Japanese Twitter user @tutuanna888 recently applied for a position with the company, and though she didn’t make it to the interview stage, she received a written response from Kagome, and not an email either; the company sent her a box with a printed note inside, plus a consolation gift package.

The note reads:

We would like to offer our sincere thanks to you for applying to Kagome.

We deeply appreciate your interest in us as an employer, and for taking the time to fill out the application form and prepare a resume. As a modest token of our gratitude, we have enclosed a selection of our products.

We hope that you will continue to think favorably towards Kagome in the future.

Bundled with the thank-you letter were a package of tomato chicken seasoning and a bottle of 100-percent tomato juice, both Kagome-brand items. An additional message, printed on the box’s cardboard itself, says:

“They’re nothing so special, but please enjoy these with your family friends, or loved ones.”

Even before receiving the package, @tutuanna888 says that she’d herd rumors that Kagome did this sort of thing. So while it’s unclear whether or not Kagome mails out these condolence package to each and every applicant, at the very least this doesn’t seem to be a one-time thing for the company.

It’s not at all unusual for people to develop a bit of a grudge against a company for turning them down for a job, but Kagome’s simple yet compassionate gesture struck a chord with Twitter, where @tutuanna888’s tweet quickly racked up tens of thousands of likes and retweets. @tutuanna888 doesn’t mention whether or not she’s lined up employment elsewhere since, but if nothing else, Kagome is rooting for her, even if they’re not able to offer her a position themselves.

Source: Twitter/@tutuanna888 via Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@tutuanna888
Top image: Pakutaso

Japanese advertising agency breaks tradition by recruiting people who got held back in school

When a company ensures that everyone deserves a second chance, it’s a company worth working for.

Students who fail a grade and thus repeat the same year remain rare in Japan, but the ones that do (referred to as ryunen,  meaning “repeaters”) find themselves at a huge disadvantage upon stepping out into the working world, where distinguished academic records and the willingness to put the company before all else are the norm.

Committed to dispelling the negative image associated with being held back in school, advertising company Tokyu Agency holds recruitment sessions catered to repeaters, with helpful input from veteran employees who once failed grades themselves. For people such as Twitter user @kotaroishungry, this turn of fortune just made his day.

“This is fantastic! They’re recruiting repeaters! Tokyu Agency! Thank you! Thank you very much! As expected of Tokyu! I love Tokyu!”

The company’s recruitment page states that “Repeaters are assets”, with a stirring message to prospective employees hoping to get a second chance at life:

“Repeaters are considered terrible by many companies. However, we do not think so. Most of them eventually complete their grades. Whether it’s studying abroad, putting their everything into part-time jobs, starting businesses or pursuing knowledge. They challenge everything they see and become engrossed in things. As for results, getting held back in school makes them special and they’ll be able to use it as an asset. There are no other individuals like them. They’ll brainstorm and work closely with people who have gone through the same. At Tokyu Agency, we have begun to recruit repeaters.”

▼ It’s like pressing continue at the “Game Over” screen.

Looking at Tokyu Agency’s history, recruitment numbers have been steadily increasing for the company with 30 new recruits expected to join their ranks this year. Although these aren’t guaranteed to be all repeaters, it’s a significant step towards forging a much more accepting society in a country where academic performances dictate one’s future.

It’s good to see Tokyu Agency tapping into a population that is still discriminated against, but if companies could also start easing the frustrating job hunting system for foreigners, Japan would inevitably change for the better.

Source: Tokyu Agency via Kai-You, Hachima Kikou
Top image: Pakutaso
Images: Pakutaso

Cosplay talent agency launches in Japan, offers representation to foreign cosplayers too

Dwango, the operators of Japan’s Nico Nico Douga streaming service, want to connect passionate cosplayers with paying jobs.

Once upon a time, cosplay was a hobby, a just-for-fun activity that was a fan-initiated side attraction at anime conventions. But as time went by, cosplayers began rapidly upping the quality of their outfits, makeup, and hairstyling, which caught the attention of the otaku-oriented media companies behind the characters fans were pretending to be.

Nowadays, cosplay can be a lucratively paying job, with clients hiring cosplayers to promote their products at trade shows, launch parties, and other events. In that sense, the only difference between professional cosplay and mainstream modeling is whether the outfits being worn were originally designed for a fashion show or an anime series, and so Dwango, the company that operates Japanese video streaming service Nico Nico Douga, has started a dedicated cosplay agency, giving it the decidedly on-the-nose name Cosplay Agency.

Cosplay Agency seeks to be a comprehensive connecting point for cosplayers and clients. Once registered, cosplayers can have a profile page with their profile and a collection of sample photographs for interested parties to peruse.

Cosplayers also have the option to list any special skills they have, such as a talent in dance, singing, or acting as an event MC, all of which potential clients can filter database search result by. And in light of the global popularity of anime and Japanese-made video games, cosplayers can tout their English conversation capabilities and/or willingness to travel overseas for a gig in their profile.

Speaking of cosplay’s international appeal, Cosplay Agency isn’t just for Japanese cosplayers, either. While the service itself is based, and operates, in Japan, there are foreign cosplayers in the database as well, so if you’re an expat living in Japan, this could be your ticket to the world of professional cosplay.

With summer, the high season of anime events, coming soon, demand for cosplayers is likely to spike over the next few months, and if you’re ready to add your name to Cosplay Agency’s list, the service’s website can be found here.

Source: Cosplay Agency via IT Media
Top image: Cosplay Agency
Insert images: Cosplay Agency (1, 2, 3, 4)

Japanese salaryman fears backlash against attractive people due to company paternity leave system

If male employees can take time off for their child’s birth, there’s one simple way to keep them working, he says.

Following a generations-long societal norm of women being almost entirely responsible for child-rearing responsibilities, Japanese men have started showing an increased commitment to helping take care of their own kids. Even some companies have begun offering paternity leave for employees, so that they can perform daddy duties for their newborn children.

That’s actually a rather progressive move for a country that’s long had issues with allowing workers anything close to a comfortable work/life balance. However, while the company which Japanese Twitter user @kir_imperial works at is kind enough to offer paternity leave, he claims that its leniency has led to an unexpected shift in what the HR department looks for in a desirable job candidate.

“In the company I work for, male employees can now take paternity leave with no problem. But because of that, it seems as though hiring managers are being told ‘Hire men and women who can get the job done, but who are also extremely unattractive and unlikely to get married.’”

While this might seem like a refreshing change to the stereotypical scenario of good-looking people getting better jobs, “so obviously repulsive as to be single for life” is also a pretty small set to reserve plum positions for, and online commenters were quick to voice their opposition to such a hiring criteria.

“I think someone who’s not popular with the opposite sex is someone who’s not good at communicating with the opposite sex, and so they probably won’t be able to work as well as someone who’s more popular.”

“Any hiring managers who use that criteria don’t deserve jobs themselves.”

“Couldn’t they just cut to the chase and say ‘Preference will be given to applicants who have been sterilized?’”

“People who want to get married but can’t aren’t good at achieving objectives, and so wouldn’t it follow that they make bad workers too?”

“Just putting this out there: I’m a qualified power plant technician, and I’ve never had a girlfriend in the 30-plus years I’ve been alive, so I think I’m a qualified candidate.”

To be fair, preferential treatment for candidates who don’t seem like they could get a date isn’t an explicitly codified part of the staffing process at @kir_imperial’s company, and it’s possible that what he’s heard amounts to nothing more than rumors. That said, dedication to the job is valued especially highly by Japanese hiring managers, so making sure you come across as a worker, not a player, during your interview is probably a good idea.

Source: Twitter/@kir_imperial via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso

Five magic Japanese phrases to know before starting a job in Japan

Gomen and kudasai are great for travelers and students, but if you’re going to be successful and happy working in Japan, you’ll want to know these.

Japanese is a highly contextual language, with all sorts of special phrases, grammar, and vocabulary variations depending on your relationship with the person you’re talking to and the nature of your conversation. Naturally, a lot of these come into play in the workplace, where coming across as earnest and respectful are important parts of presenting a professional demeanor.

These can sometimes be tricky for Japanese people even, and with the Japanese fiscal year starting this week, a lot of new employees are feeling a little tongue-tied in the office, so we’ve put together a crash course of phrases that’ll put you on the path to being seen as a polished professional. Even if you’ve landed a job in Japan where you’re primarily speaking English, knowing when to use these phrases, some of which don’t have direct equivalents in English, can work wonders in creating smooth relations with coworkers and clients, so here are five to add to your repertoire, with their Japanese text versions on display on each card.

1. Arigato gozaimasu: Thank you very much

Let’s start off with an easy one. Yes, you could just say arigato, which is what you’re most likely to hear when friends or students are talking to each other. In the business world, though, you’ll generally want to spruce that up with a respectful gozaimasu, giving arigato gozaimasu a much more mature ring to it than plain old arigato.

2. Naru hodo desu ne: I see

In Japanese, it’s common to condense sentences by omitting things that the speaker thinks the listener already knows or can easily deduce. For example, if your boss wants to assign you a project, instead of saying the full “Watashi ha kore wo anata ni tanomu” (“I will assign this to you“) he’ll probably just say “Kore wo tanomu,” cutting out the parts that mean “I” and “to you” entirely.

But because the speaker is relying on the listener understanding things that aren’t explicitly said, Japanese conversations need aizuchi, which are compact interjections the listener slips in during pauses in the speaker’s statement to signal that he’s keeping up with the explanation. Among pals, an almost grunt-like un will suffice, but when talking to a workplace superior or client, the more formal naru hodo desu ne conveys a greater sense of mental engagement, and thus consideration of what’s being said.

3. Moshiwake arimasen: I am deeply sorry

Again, this is one that most Japanese learners learn a simple substitute for early on in their studies. Gomen, or gomen nasai, also both mean “I’m sorry,” but they have a decidedly personal feel to them. While they’ll suffice for everything from forgetting to respond to an email from a friend to breaking up with a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend, gomen, and its myriad gomen-plus-something-else variants, can sound pretty childish in a workplace environment, whereas moshiwake arimasen implies not only regret, but a mature understanding that what you did was incorrect or otherwise created a burden or inconvenience for the other party.

4. Osewa in natte orimasu: I am in your debt/Hello

Now we come to one of those phrases that doesn’t have a direct English equivalent. Literally, osewa in natte orimasu means “I am in your debt,” but counterintuitively it’s also often the first thing you should say to people you’ve never met, or didn’t even know existed until that precise moment.

Gratitude, humility, and group responsibility/credit are all values in Japanese society, so even if you’re speaking with someone for the first time, you’re already indebted to them. A pre-existing client has been supporting the company (by purchasing its products) since before you were even employed, as so deserves your respect. Even employees in other divisions of your company get an osewa ni natte orimasu at the start of a conversation, since they’re all ostensibly doing things that contribute to the company’s overall success and stability, which you benefit from too, and so they deserve a verbal thank-you.

5. Yoroshiku onegai itashimasu: Please/good-bye

The companion phrase to osewa ni natte orimasu, yoroshiku onegai itashimasu is an extra-polite way of saying “Favorably, please.” And if that seems kind of vague, that’s actually the whole point.

Yoroshiku onegai itashimasu can be used in conjunction with a specific request. For example, if you’ve asked a client to clarify something regarding their requirements for a project you’re working on, or need your boss to confirm that your document draft is in the right format, after you’ve made your request, you wrap up the statement with yoroshiku onegai itashimasu, as a cordial way of saying “Please do this for me.”

But alternatively, yoroshiku onegai itashimasu gets used even when you haven’t asked for anything in particular. It is, by far, the most common way to end any conversation or written communication with a current or potential customer. Even if the specific issue or transaction you were talking about is resolved, or failed to happen at all, you’re still hoping that they’ll think of your company the next time they have need of whatever product or service you provide, and so yoroshiku onegai itashimasu is a succinct, less theatrical way of saying “I hope our paths cross in a happy way at some time in the future.”

As mentioned above, if Japanese isn’t your native language, a lot of times you can get a pass on not using these phrases when doing business in Japan. Still, an understanding of them, and especially the psychology behind them, can be a huge help in everything from job interviews to getting along with your officemates, so keep your eyes and ears open for a chance to use them.

Oh, and yoroshiku onegai itashimasu.

Images: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)