The Advancing of Diversified Global Society and Career in Japan
Japan’s population is decreasing year by year. It is said to be a “declining birthrate and aging society” with few young people and many elders. This declining birthrate and aging population cause the decreasing of the working-age population which led to the increasing demand for labor from outside Japan. In addition, in an increasingly globalized world, Japanese society is also hiring diverse human resources.
However, as you often hear, Japan is unique (or maybe can be said conservative) in terms of the language and cultural barrier. With some exceptions, languages other than Japanese do not work well. If Muslims in the world counted billions, but it is a minority group in Japan.
HALAL MEDIA JAPAN often receives such inquiries.
“I heard that it is difficult for Muslims to get a job in Japan …”
“Is it true that you cannot do pray at lunch in a Japanese workplace?”
In this issue, we would like to introduce five things you need to know when working in Japan” to solve such questions.
*Please note that the content of this article is generally based on interviews and may not be applicable in all cases.
Five Important Things in Working in Japan
1. Understanding Towards Muslims in the Workplace
In Japan, the population of Muslims is said to be about 200,000 (there is still no exact number) with the ratio only about 0.5% from the total population of Japan. Therefore, it is a high-possibility where the majority of Japanese people have never met Muslims. Even the number of Muslims who come to Japan to study or travel is increasing, but there are still few Japanese who actually “have talked” or “have communicated” with Muslims.
For this reason, many Japanese “do not know” what Muslims believe and practice, and in most cases, it can be said that the same perception applied at the workplace. Therefore, rather than a perspective that “Muslim is scary”, there is a tendency to have the feeling that “I don’t know anything about Muslims” which led to “worries and anxious”.
Communicate gently with the caring behavior of Muslims is the key to change the perceptions in the workplace.
2. Pray at the workplace
As explained in no.1, many Japanese do not know about what Muslims practice, including “pray”, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Some Japanese people think that pray takes about 30 minutes and need to create a special room. Actually, the prayer itself can be completed in about 10 minutes in a small space, so let’s make sure to explain that.
These are some examples of what to convey:
・ 2-3 times of prayer time during work time (Zuhr, Ashr, Maghrib)
・ Zuhr can be done during the lunch break
・ The pray lasts about 10 minutes, so can do pray between jobs.
・ Pray can be done in a vacant meeting room or staff room
It may be a bit difficult for some people to consult about the pray with the company, thinking, “will it be annoying to get permission from the company to pray?”. However, the Japanese company will never understand if they don’t hear the opinion or explanation from Muslim employees. When your juniors get employed in the company in the future, they may have the same feelings. The company’s understanding of Muslims may be beneficial not only for you but also for your Muslim juniors and for the company itself.
Friday worship is also an essential activity for Muslims. Many Muslims who attend Friday pray in Japan, that is held in noon which is actually still in a working time, consulting the alternatives to the company. Mostly they are going to work an hour earlier or leave the company an hour later to have an hour to extend their lunch break to go to the mosque or distribute the working hours on the other days.
In Japan, reducing working hours only for certain employees is not well accepted from the perspective of equality. The point is to propose an alternative plan by yourself on how to secure working hours for Friday pray hours. In some cases, an increasing number of companies have adopted a flextime system and can respond flexibly.
If possible, you can explain to your HR or recruiters before you join the company. If it’s difficult to tell the company directly, some people start by talking to a colleague or a boss who is close to them.
3. Clothes and Hijabs
One of the most frequently asked questions is “Can I work with a hijab in Japan?”.
Unfortunately, it is yes and no. If it is in a work field that is not serving customers such as back office, etc, you might be allowed to work with hijab. Although it is still difficult for some companies, such as restaurants and retail stores to permit wearing a hijab, the chances of seeing Muslims wearing hijab working at shops in the city seem to be increasing year by year (especially apparel and convenience stores).
Make sure to check whether you can wear the hijab at the interview or company briefing session.
In the case of men, the beard, which is Sunnah (recommended by the practice of the Prophets Muhammad) in Islam, is often become a problem. Since it is Sunnah, of course, it is desirable to practice it. On the other hand, overgrown beards in Japan is considered to be something that does not give a good impression. There are cases where the working rules are including the beard, especially in the service-related industry. We recommend taking measures to trim the beard in working for a company in Japan.
4. Identify Company With An Understanding of Muslims
As mentioned earlier, not all companies have a sufficient understanding of foreign nationals and Muslims. How can we identify a company which has such an understanding?
Check if the company ever hired foreign staff
The companies that have hired foreign nationals or Muslims have the environment and system for accepting diversified society already in place which can be minimized problems that occur after joining the company. Such information may be displayed on the company’s website or social media.
Talk to your HR department or hiring manager before joining the company (if possible, at an interview or company briefing session)
Talk to the Human Resources department or hiring manager in advance and explain as much as possible. If you are rejected at that point, you might face a difference in perception even after joining the company, so avoid entering the company as an option.
5. Find People And Communities To Talk To
You are not the only person working (or considering to) working in Japan. Many Muslims are working in Japan after the economic bubble about 40 years ago. The worries and anxieties you have are sure to be the same thing that other Muslims in Japan are having. In that terms, we recommend discussing with your seniors and friends to overcome. If there are no such people around you, you can contact Career Diversity, Inc. at any time.
We interviewed with Career Diversity, Inc. to talk more about what and how to foreigners get a job in Japan.
What is Career Diversity, Inc.?
Career Diversity is a recruitment company in the group of Food Diversity Inc. that manages HALAL MEDIA JAPAN We support Muslims working in Japan at a company that aims to support a diverse range of human resources.
Career Diversity has three services that are available for free:
1. Career consultation for those who are thinking of finding a job or changing jobs in Japan
Feel free to inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org for a career consultation.
2. Introducing Companies Where Muslims are Convenient to Work
For those who are interested to get introduced to companies, please submit here https://career-diversity.com/en/jobseeker/
3. Organize Career Events
Get the latest information about employment and job offers in Japan. Feel free to Career Diversity to discuss possible career for you in Japan.
Writer : Wada Kadir Kaiji
The CEO of Career Diversity, Inc. Since 2017, he has been in charge of improving the environment for accepting Muslims and disseminating information to more than 20 local governments. Experienced as a local manager at an educational institution with about 200 people for a year and a half in Bandung, Indonesia. After that, in 2020, he established Career Diversity, Inc. specializing in international human resources. As a core member of the domestic youth Muslim community, he is engaged in the formation of Muslim communities at home and abroad. He graduated from Waseda University majority in International Liberal Studies and studied abroad at Brunei Darussalam University. He is a Bahasa Indonesian speaker, converted to Islam in 2017