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Subject: soc.culture.japan FAQ [Monthly Posting] [2/3]

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Archive-name: japan/faq/part2 Posting-Frequency: monthly Last-modified: December 27, 1999 URL: <http://www2.gol.com/users/shimpei/scjfaq/>
------------------------------ Subject: (6.0) Traveling and living in Japan Last update: 5/99 An extensive introduction to living in Japan (and Tokyo in particular) is maintained by Robert Murphy <tenjin98@my-dejanews.com> at <http://thejapanfaq.cjb.net/>. ------------------------------ Subject: (6.1) Finding a job (for non-Japanese) Last update: 5/98 From: mfester@iisc.com (Mike Fester) et al. Getting a job in Japan involves some lag time and effort, but is not really that difficult, especially if you have a technical degree and speak some Japanese. The hard part is knowing where/how to look. And, as in the rest of the world, the better your qualifications, the easier it is. If you can speak, read, and write Japanese (you need not be fluent), pick up a copy of the magazine _Shuushoku Jouhou_ ("Job Hunting Information") at a Japanese bookstore. It comes out 3 times a year, and it contains company descriptions, benefits explanations, etc, from companies who are actively recruiting new employees. In Japan, the magazine is (or was) free, but overseas it costs about $2. It also has lots of postcards to fill out (1 per company) which you send in to those companies in which you have an interest. If you have work experience in addition to the technical degree, don't pay too much attention to the salaries listed, as those are for absolute beginners. Note: there are other magazines for such job-hunting info, but _Shuushoku_ is one of the more expensive. Companies advertising in it are, in general, better able to come to terms with employing a foreigner who does not have exposure to the Japanese system. Kokusaiha No Tame No Shushoku Joho (International Recruit Magazine) is published by: International Career Information, Inc 111 Pavonia Ave. Jersey City, NJ 07310 USA (201) 216-0600 Tokyo Office 7-3-5 Ginza Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104 JAPAN (03) 3575-6347 There is another magazine of the same sort called _Adapt_. [Editor: the old number given in the previous versions of the FAQ, 1-800-344-7241, is no longer functioning. I'd appreciate it if anyone can tell me what their current number is.] If you do not speak Japanese, it becomes more difficult, but not impossible. Get a hold of the daily edition of _The Japan Times_, particularly the Monday and Thursday issues. They contain job offers (usually in English, but often in French, German, Italian, etc). Many of these are targeted specifically for foreigners. See the following section of this FAQ list for subscription info. If you have a non-technical degree, but speak Japanese, again, it is a bit more difficult, but not impossible. The _Shuushoku_ route works well there. If none of those applies to you, you really have to hustle. Probably, you will have to actually visit Japan (read: Tokyo) and personally answer those ads for English teachers. There are a lot of jobs available, but there is also a lot of competition. You'll have to hustle, but it can be done. If you take the _Shuushoku_ route, expect to send about 45 - 60 cards in for every 3 or for positive responses. Many of the companies will show an interest, and will await your arrival in Japan for an interview. Some may fly you out at their expense (I got 3 such flights). ONCE I'VE GOT AN OFFER, THEN WHAT? Once you've got an offer, you'll have to negotiate on salary and moving expenses. The company will have to then offer you a contract, which you must sign. They or you then apply for your visa. This can take about 3 - 4 months. One thing you need to remember in this negotiation procedure is that things are different in Japan than here. In the larger cities especially, getting an apartment is EXPENSIVE. Frequently (almost always) you will have to pay an honorarium to your landlord/lady equivalent to about 2 months' rent (non refundable). If you use a rental agency to find your place (you almost certainly will) you will pay them about 1 - 2 months' rent as a fee. There are exceptions of course, but these are not the rule. Also, remember that many apart- ments will NOT rent to foreigners. Nothing you can do about it, really, so keep looking. Someone will take you. Also, getting a phone in Japan is expensive: you will have to buy a 'phone line' from NTT for about $600-680, depending on exchange rate. Sometimes these are available "used" for less. This entitles you to phone service. Then you have to pay for the phone and installation itself (about another $100+). Use all this info in negotiating your moving expenses. Contrary to popular belief, not all (in fact, not most) companies have living quarters for their employees. You will also pay a cleaning deposit and usually a monthly 'management fee' for cleaning the whole apartment, garbage collection, etc. You can be accepted as a 'shain' (real-live employee) or 'keiyakusha' (contractor). There are advantages to each. As a 'shain', you will receive the various 'teate' that the company offers its employees. These are 'allowances' and are NOT included in your wages (they are NOT taxable). These frequently include FULL payment of your train fee (can easily be over $100 a month) which is a pass along one or more train lines from your apartment to work. There is also a payment for your residence; this is NOT a full payment of rent, but is frequently about 50% of the rent. Also, if you have a family, you get an additional allowance for each child and for your spouse. You will receive full coverage under the Japanese national medical plan, and also get the company bonuses. These bonuses can be up to 3 months salary. HOWEVER, they are not always "bonuses". Some companies include them in the yearly salary package they offer their employees, and they withhold part of your salary from each paycheck in order to pay it. Check to be sure which procedure your company follows. As a keiyakusha, you will have to provide for all your expenses, including insurance, etc, and you do not receive bonuses. However, it usually pays a lot better, usually enough to MORE THAN compensate for the loss of the teate's. Also, some companies may not allow you to work outside their company on your own time (e.g., as a translator). As a keiyakysha, you can make a LOT of money in your spare time. Once everyone has agreed to the conditions of employment, the company will apply for your visa. They will probably act as your guarantors for your con- duct in Japan (if, however, you have relatives there, you can ask them to do so). If you are married to a Japanese national, however, you can apply for a spouse visa. In either event, you will need the contract, and a guarantor. If you can, get the spouse visa; you will have more flexibility in getting another job, assuming things do not work out with your new company as you expected. Also, they can be granted for longer periods of time, though in practice, only a single year is granted for first-time entrants into Japan (and sometimes for people who have been there for years). You will also need lots of documentation, including college transcripts, proper identification, etc. Once you have made the application, you must wait. I have had embassy people tell me the process would take "3 weeks", but 2 - 3 months is about right. BE VERY POLITE TO EVERYONE YOU DEAL WITH AT THE CONSULATE OR AT IMMIGRATION! THEY CAN KEEP YOU OUT OF THE COUNTRY ON A WHIM AND THERE WILL BE NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT! Not fair, of course, but that's life. Once you have gotten your visa, you can go to Japan and begin your new career/life/adventure. You must register at the local city hall (and they apparently will no longer fingerprint you). You will have to pay a residence tax (which can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars) each year. You will have to pay Japanese income tax (usually MUCH lower than US tax). If you make less than $70,000 a year, you can get an exemption from US taxes, though you still have to file. WHAT IF I AM LOOKING FOR A LANGUAGE TEACHING/TRANSLATION JOB? I will address the spouse situation first, as many people seem concerned about finding a job when they move with their spouse to Japan. Note: whether or not you speak Japanese, the suggestions for language teaching apply. My advice is to learn the language as quickly as possible, once you're there. This opens the translation / interpretation jobs to you; MUCH more lucrative, and in many cases, more interesting. If you are married to a Japanese, and have, or can get, a spouse visa (as above) you should have no problems once you get to Japan, if you are willing to hustle. Most jobs are not full-time, however. It is MUCH easier to find these part-time jobs than full-time jobs. You can get quite a few of them. Standard pay, through an agency, is Y3,000-Y4,500/hour. These jobs are often advertised in the Monday and Thursday edition of the _Japan Times_. After you get some experience, it becomes a bit easier to get a full-time lecturer job at a university. The competition is much tougher for these, but the longer you're in Japan, the better your chances. And once you have some experience, it is much easier to keep getting these part-time jobs, if you so desire. Also, your name will become known in the teaching circles, and you'll have more access to better information on full-time positions. If you are not married, you will need to find a sponsor in one of the companies you will be working for. Many companies are unwilling to do this. My advice is to keep plugging. If you can make it to Tokyo, you CAN find such a job, IF you answer every ad that you see. If you are outside of Japan, then it becomes much more difficult, about like finding a job in any country without being there. What few hints I have are above. Part-time jobs offer transportation costs, period. Only full-time jobs will provide benefits (usually). However, you can very nicely supplement your income with translation jobs. This would enable you to work at home. (It assumes, of course, that you will speak/read some Japanese.) These jobs are also advertised in the J Times. Get a FAX and a computer capable of handling Japanese language and you really can make a lot of money. It is, however, a constant hustle. Note: most J-E translation jobs pay about Y5,000 a page, E-J pays about Y3,000. I did get one translation job that paid Y10,000 a page, but those are rare. Many of these translation companies also offer the occasional interpretation job as well. These can be real plums; my wife and I got paid Y100,000 EACH for a one-day outing to the beach at Chiba with a couple of foreign models. If you stay in Japan long enough to learn the language even moderately well, you will find a larger and larger number of translation/interpretation jobs coming your way, as there is a very high turnover among employees of these these smaller translation/interpretation companies. WHAT IF I JUST WANT A JOB FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS? As of May 1998, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have reciprocity agreements with Japan, allowing people to do a "working holiday"--work for a couple months under various restrictions with nothing more than tourist visas. The US (last I checked, 1991) was not such a country. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you: must be a citizen of Australia, New Zealand, or Canada currently residing in his or her country of citizenship. must intend primarily to holiday in Japan for a specific length of time. must be between 18 and 30 years of age at the time of application. must possess a valid passport and a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase a return ticket. must possess reasonable funds for living expenses, including medical expenses, during the period of the initial stay in Japan. For a single person, the minimum is US$2000, for a married couple, US$3000 or equivalent amount of the national currency. must be in good health and not have a criminal record. More details are available at <http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/w_holiday/programme.html>. It IS possible to get a part-time teaching job or two, and some translation jobs if you hustle. (In case you're wondering, I am *not* recommending this! --FAQ maintainer) It is illegal, and if you get caught, you'd better do some sincere apologizing to avoid getting kicked out of the country. As noted above, Japanese authorities can be much more forgiving if you give them reason to be (no guarantees of course.) Many companies will not ask you too many questions about your visa status, if you don't volunteer anything, or "misrepresent" your status. So, it CAN be done, and if you get caught, most likely the worst that will happen is you will get kicked out of Japan. There are also some internship programs available for specific areas, but these are very competitive, and Japanese authorities sometimes have problems getting intern visas run through immigration (sounds strange, but it is true.) Consult your local program for more info. So, have fun, work hard, and enjoy the land of the rising Yen! (some information here courtesy of Ray Tang) ------------------------------ Subject: (6.1.1) JET Last update: 2/97 From: jer@well.com (Jerry Blanton) What is the JET Program? JET stands for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, a program sponsored by the Japanese Ministries of Education, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs. The program began in 1987 and was designed to bring young, native English speakers to Japan to assist English teachers in public junior high, high schools and college/universities as well as to help bring 'internationalization' (the 1980's buzzword) to Japan. These goals has now been expanded to include German and French speakers as well. Currently (1995), participating countries are: Australia, China (CIRs Only), Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Republic of Korea (CIRs Only), Russian Federation (CIRs only) UK and the US. This year there are nearly 5,000 participants (hereafter referred to as 'JETs') spread across the entirety of Japan. There are two types of JET positions: 1) ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). The ALT goes to junior/high/colleges and 'team-teaches' with a native Japanese teacher. Until 1989 there were only English instructors on the program but then it was expanded to include German and French teachers as well (big cities only). ALTs work in a wide range of situations and some ALTs teach in only one school while others never visit the same school twice. 2) CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) The CIR position helps to fulfill the lofty internationalization goal. CIRs work in prefectural offices or in large cities (or sometimes not so big) doing anything from tourism to helping the city deal with the influx of foreign workers. The CIR position is much less defined than the ALT. The vast majority of JETs fall into the ALT category while only a few hundred are CIRs. Where Do I Sign Up? All hiring for the JET program is done in the home countries of respondents. Generally, the initial applications have to be received by mid-December and then notification of interviews is made in late January or early Februrary with the interviews being held in Feb. Most interviews are conducted at the Japanese embassy or consulates in each country. (Below is a list of Japanese embassies in each of the participating countries) What if I Don't Speak Japanese? To be an ALT you DO NOT need to speak Japanese, nor do you need any special knowledge about Japan. You do need to have an interest in Japan and a willingness to help the Japanese improve their English skills. Because CIRs tend to work more with larger government offices, they need more Japanese skills from the outset, although this is NOT always the case. In all cases, you must have at least a bachelors degree by the time that you are to departfor Japan (end of July). The JET year is from August 1 to July 31. At the initial application stage you can request a rural or urban posting as well as a High School or Junior High School posting but there are no guarantees you will get what you ask for (probably the vast majority of people are randomly assigned). How Much Do I Get Paid? (And Is it Enough?) JETs are pretty well paid considering that the majority of participants are fresh out of college and have no experience. As of this writing, the JET salary is 3,600,000 yen which is about US$40,000 (@ the current 'endaka' rates of approx 85 yen to 1 US$) This is TAX FREE so your monthly salary is 300,000 yen wihich is more than enough to live on, and then some. Big city JETs often complain that they make less due to higher cost of living, but they are no where near poverty level. Besides, the JET program isn't about making money, it's about a great opportunity to live in Japan, learn Japanese, and work. If you are interested in finding out more about applying for the JET Program, contact your closest Japanese Embas sy or consulate. Following is a list of Japanese embassies for the participating countries: Australia Embassy of Japan "JET Desk" 112 Empire Circuit, Yarralumla, Canberra ACT 2600 Tel (06) 273-2679 Fax (06) 273-1848 Canada Embassy of Japan "JET Desk" 255 Sussex Dr. Ottawa ONT K1N 9E6 Tel (613) 241-8541 Fax (613) 241-2232 China Embassy of Japan "JET Desk" 7 Ri Tan Rd. Jiam Guo Men Wai, Beijing Peoples Republic of China Tel (01) 532-2361 Fax (01) 532-4625 France Ambassade du Japon "La Division de JET" 7 Avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris Tel: (01) 4888-6200 Fax: (01) 4227-5081 Germany Japanische Botschaft "JET Desk" Abteilung Oeffentlichkeitsarbeit und Kultur Godesberger Allee 102-104, 53175 Bonn Tel 0228-81910 Fax: 0228-379399 <http://www.embjapan.de> und <http://www.embjapan.de/Bawb.htm> Republic of Ireland Embassy of Japan "JET Desk" Nutley Bldg., Merrion Centre, Nutley Lane Dublin 4 Tel: (01) 269-4244 Fax: (01) 283-8726 Republic of Korea Embassy of Japan "JET Desk" 18-11 Choonghak-don, Chongro-ku, Seoul Tel: (02) 733-5626, Fax: (02) 734-4528 New Zealand Embassy of Japan "JET Desk" GRE House, 113 Custom House Quay, Wellington 1 Tel: (04) 472-7807 Fax: (04) 472-3416 Russian Federation Japan Information Service, Embassy of Japan Dobryninskaya Ulitsa, Dom 7 Domeshshenie 12, Moscow Rusia Tel (095) 238-9868 UK Embassy of Japan "JET Desk" 101-104 Piccadilly, London W1V 9FN Tel: (071) 465-6500 Fax: (071) 491-9347 US Embassy of Japan, Office of JET Program 2520 Massachussetts Ave., N.W. Washington D.C. 20028 Tel: (202) 939-6772 Fax: (202) 328-2187 You can also contact CLAIR (Council of Local Authorities for International Relations) @ Tel: +81-3-3265-1491 or Fax: +81-3-3265-1368 (Japan) for more information. I am happy to answer general questions about the JET program vis a vis my own experience as both an ALT and a CIR. However, please bear in mind that I was a JET four years ago and my experiences come from when the program was much much smaller. Furthermore, I cannot help you with application procedures for your own country or supply you with any more information than the above as far as telephone numbers, addresses, etc. is concerned. Also, *please do NOT e-mail* me with requests about teaching opportunities in Japan! I have never taught English outside the JET program and have no idea whatsoever about opportunities, contacts, ways to get information, etc. about teaching in Japan. [The toll-free information line for JET in the US is 1-800-INFO-JET. --ed.] The following WWW pages contain information about JET: http://www.shef.ac.uk/~eas/info/jet/ http://www.apic.or.jp/JapanInfo/ http://www2.gol.com/users/robu/ http://wacky.ccit.arizona.edu/%7Esusd/jet.html ------------------------------ Subject: (6.1.2) Other English teaching jobs Last update: 4/96 [look back at the main section 5.2 - it's got a little on this] editor@ohayosensei.com (Lynn Cullivan) writes a semi-weekly electronic newsletter called O-hayo-Sensei dealing with English teaching jobs in Japan. It includes job listings, guidelines on job applications and resumes, and even cheapest airfare to Japan. You may want to go through the newsgroup for the latest posting. The URL is <http://www.ohayosensei.com/~ohayo/> In addition, you may find the following pages useful: <http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~lpoza/Guide.html> <http://www.u-net.com/eflweb/japan0.htm> <http://www.infojapan.com/cgjsf/teaching.htm> Japan is known for being relatively easy to find good paying English teaching jobs with few qualifications. That's the reputation, but it's not nearly as true now as it was several years ago. There are many English schools in Japan, and many of them still hire native English speakers, but the good ones--and "good" means both the quality of their teaching and how they treat their employees--are much more likely to require that their employees have experience or even some credential in teaching ESL. Freelancing is possible, but getting established is difficult. Note that freelancing on a tourist visa is illegal, and to get a working visa, you need a sponsor--usually an employer, but friends or relatives are possible. The bottom line is that it's not as easy as it once was. ------------------------------ Subject: (6.2) Travel Info Last update: 5/99 (This section is incomplete. If you would like to write up a more informative article, please talk to the FAQ maintainer at shimpei+scjfaq@gol.com.) One way to get exposure to Japanese culture is to actually travel to Japan. Unfortunately Japan's reputation, in the U.S. at least, is that it's horrendously expensive. In reality, it can be expensive, but doesn't have to be. James Liu's travel guide that was formerly listed in this section no longer appears to be available. However, searching for "travel guide Japan" at search engines like www.yahoo.com will turn up a large number of free travel guides that may be helpful. Nothing can substitute for a well-written paper guide book, however. The most egregiously expensive part of a trip to Japan is probably, in the editor's opinion, transportation, so plan your itinerary carefully in advance. A Japan Rail Pass may or may not be a profitable purchase. Finally, although English classes are compulsory in middle and high schools, many Japanese people speak little to no conversational English. Do not expect to get too far with English outside of large cities or popular foreign tourist traps. This is not to discourage you from going off the beaten path; just don't forget a Japanese phrase book if you do so. ------------------------------ Subject: (6.3) Gifts to and from Japan Last update: 1/96 To Japan: Don't expect to find anything that your recipient can't get in Japan; these days you can get almost anything from any part of the world in Japan, provided that you're willing to pay for it. Having said that, there are still many items not commonly found in Japan that would make perfect gifts: Calendars--"Cute" or "artsy" calendars are rare in Japan, where most households and businesses keep track of dates using boring, generic calendars with corporate logos imprinted, handed out by businesses for promotions. My mother always used to ask for a Peter Rabbit calendar for Christmas. (And then she found a store that sold Peter Rabbit calendars in Tokyo. But let's not get into that.) Mugs and T-shirts--Creative patterns are not as common in Japan. For T-shirts, take into consideration that Japanese people do not wear T-shirts too often and, when they do, they generally like to avoid flashier-colored clothes. Alcohol--Up to 3 bottles of spirits are duty-free upon entering Japan. Just remember that, if you need to travel before meeting your recipient, you're going to lug 3 liters of water with you during those legs of your trip. These are just a few examples. Email me if you have any other wildly popular/successful ideas. From Japan: The great thing about Japan is that practically every region has some unique product to offer. Consult your travel guides for appropriate gifts from wherever you traveled. In general, I find that room decorations, accessories, etc., are more convenient for you (and more appreciated by the recipient) than food. Michiaki Masuda <masuda@ncifcrf.gov> suggests the following items: 1. Art prints - Inexpensive copies of traditional wood printings {Ukiyo-e}. 2. Baseball caps (*) - Those of Japanese professional baseball teams. 3. "Basukurin" - Scented powder for a hot bath tub. {You can reproduce some of the famous Japanese hot springs at home.} 4. Books (*) - Books on Japan written in English, "Manga" (comic book), other magazines, and photo books showing scenaries in Japan. (For those who are interested in Japanese language) Books written in plain Japanese and books on "kanji." 5. Calligraphy set - "Fude" (brush), "sumi" (a block of ink) and "suzuri" (ink plate) for "shodo" (Japanese calligraphy). 6. Ceramics (*) - Tea set, "sake" set, etc. 7. Chopsticks - A nice pair of lacquered chopsticks. 8. Crafts (*) - Paper crafts made of "washi" (traditional Japanese paper). Small ornaments that could be used for a Christmas tree. Origami, kites, a little statue of Buddha etc. One netter has mentioned that a book titled "Gateway to Japan" by June Kinoshita and Nicholas Palevsky (Kodan-sha) contains a good description of Japanese crafts. 9. Dolls (*) - Kokeshi, Daruma, Hakata doll, etc. 10. Fake food (*) - Food samples made of plastic or wax that you can see in front of restaurants. {Available at the pro shops in Kappabashi, Tokyo.} 11. Footgear - "Zouri" (Japanese sandals), "tabi" (Japanese traditional socks), ets. {"Geta" might be good, too.} 12. "Go" (*) - Go stones in the bowl and the board. 13. "Hanko" - A sealing stamp (for Japanese-American friends). {If you can write other American's name in Kanji, it would be possible to order a custom made hanko, too.} 14. "Kabuki" program and other "kabuki" goods. {kabuki = one of Japanese traditional theater plays.} 15. Liquors - Whisky and brandy of a Japanese maker in a miniature bottle. 16. Music - Japanese music CDs and cassettes. 17. "Noren" - A small curtain for an entrance of a restaurant or a doorway. 18. "Omamori" - A small lucky charm tag, especially the one for a car {"Kou-tsuu Anzen" [Safe Driving]}. Available at shrines and temples. 19. "Sake" (*) - Preferably in a bottle of a "strange" shape (e.g., "Tokkuri", bottle made of a dried squid, etc.) or traditionally wrapped. 20. Snacks (*) - Dried fish, rice crackers (e.g., senbei, kaki-no-tane), etc. 21. "Soroban" - Japanese traditional calculator. {It was probably invented in China, but the Japanese model seems to be different from the Chinese model.} 22. Stationaries (*) - Mechanical pencil + ball point pen (e.g., Sharbo), stationaries with fancy patterns, etc. 23. Sweets (*) - Traditional "wagashi" (Japanese sweets), candies, cookies, and other "okashi." 24. Toothpicks - Ones with unusual carvings. 25. Towels - Japanese "tenugui" towels with sumo wrestlers, "Kamikaze", "Ichi-ban," etc. 26. Toys (*) - Electronic toys and traditional Japanese toys (e.g., kendama, daruma-otoshi, etc.) 27. T-shirts (*) - Ones with a logo in "Japanglish." {Ones with "Ukiyo-e" print might be fine, too.} 28. "Yukata" (*) - A casual "kimono" for summertime. Can be used as a bathrobe, or a nightgown as well. ------------------------------ Subject: (6.4) Taking electronics to Japan Last update: <11/95 The Japanese TV standard is NTSC, the same as used in the North America and a few other places, so videotapes and laserdiscs from Japan are compatible with North American equipment. Channel assignments are somewhat different, so a North American TV set won't necessarily work if you take it to Japan. SECAM or PAL equipment won't be much use in Japan, but reportedly can be purchased in Japan if you want to take something home. Because of the channel assignment differences, a TV set and a VCR or laserdisc player need to be connected by the RCA type video cables (or S-video), not the coaxial "signal modulated onto channel 3 or 4" cables. There are probably exceptions to this statement, but in general, this is so. Electricity is 100 volts 50hz in Eastern Japan, 60hz in western Japan. The dividing line is the Oi river in Shizuoka prefecture about half way between Tokyo and Nagoya. Apparently, Tokyo and Osaka, being the first cities in Japan to electrify, ordered their equipment from different European (or US?) sources, thus the frequency difference. The outlets fit US standard two prong plugs with two parallel flat blades. There are many houses that don't have the third wire ground hole in their outlets, so she three prong grounded plugs common on PCs in the US may have a problem with the ground pin. Power supplies on many computers can handle a wide range of voltages. The MAC IIvx nearby says 100-240V, 50-60 Hz. So with the correct line cord, it will be happy in Japan, but I don't know that to do if there's no ground connection. Some devices with motors depend on the line frequency for their speed and will run slow in eastern Japan. With the lower voltage, devices with heating elements will run cooler. ------------------------------ Subject: (6.5) Lodging ------------------------------ Subject: (6.5.1) Home stays Last update: 7/96 The following was received by a reader from the Japanese Consulate whos address follows. There have been no reports on what any of these organizations are really like. Some reportedly charges astronomical amounts for their services, so caveat emptor. Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles 350 South Grand Avenue, Suite 1700 Los Angeles, CA 90071 Telephone (213) 617-6700 <http://www.psig.com/consllos/> Thank you for your interest in finding a host family in Japan. The following organizations will assist you in your homestay search: 1) The Japan Foundation 244 South San Pedro Street, #508 Los Angeles, CA 90012 (the phone number formerly listed here was invalid) 2) LEX America 68 Leonard Street Belmont, MA 02178 (617) 489-5800 3) Nihon Kokusai Seikatsu Taiken Kyoukai 4-5 Kojimachi, Tachibana Building Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan 120 4) Tokyo WMCA 1-8 Kanda Surugadai Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan 101 5) International Friendship Association 1-10 Chiyoda Building, Nanpei-dai Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan 150 6) Japan Junior Chamber, Inc. International Exchange Committee 2-14-3 Hirakawa Cho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan 102 You may want to try the following URLs as well: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan Home Page http://infomofa.nttls.co.jp/infomofa/ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan Home Page (mirror - Calif, USA) http://www2.nttca.com:8010/infomofa/ ------------------------------ Subject: (6.6) Money ------------------------------ Subject: (6.6.1) Bank accounts and services for foreigners Last update: <11/95 Citibank is the only foreign bank known to do *consumer* banking in Japan. (There are a number of foreign banks that do commercial banking. Email the FAQ maintainer if you know of another foreign bank that handles personal accounts.) A branch manager for a major Japanese bank told me that they need to check personal identification for foreigners because of money laundering problems; however, he added that passports should suffice as an ID for most foreigners. This, of course, does not guarantee anything for *your* case, and there have been complaints against Japanese banks not servicing foreigners. ------------------------------ Subject: (6.6.2) Credit cards for foreigners Last update: <11/95 Credit cards are not nearly as popular in Japan as they are in some other developed countries. Most stores that handle large transactions (like, say, electronics outlets) will accept credit cards, but don't expect to pay for your lunch at the ramen joint with a credit card. Note: personal checks are practically unheard of in Japan. Nevertheless, credit cards are very convenient to have. Citibank reportedly offers them to foreigners; there have not been any reports about Japanese providers, but many credit card vendors in other countries do limit/deny cards to foreigners, so it may also be the case in Japan. VISA is probably the most popular credit card. AmEx is also frequently seen, and Diner's Club is more common in Japan than in, say, US. Strangely, MasterCard is not seen often in Japan. A similar-looking card called Million Card is not compatible with MasterCard to the best of my knowledge. ------------------------------ Subject: (6.6.3) Currency exchange; sending cash to/from Japan Last update: <11/95 by Norman Diamond In buying and selling US$, if M is the market fixing (at around 10:00 a.m.), then banks and large department stores and some hotels set the rates as: cash buying US$1 = M - 3 yen traveller's cheque buying US$1 = M - ??? yen (around 1.7; I don't recall) telegraphic transfer buying US$1 = M - 1 yen (maybe minus some fee?) telegraphic transfer selling US$1 = M + 1 yen (plus 4,500 yen plus *) traveller's cheque selling US$1 = (M + 1 yen) x 1.01 cash selling US$1 = M + 3 yen postal money order US$1 = prior day's M + 1 (plus 500 to 2,500 yen) * U.S. banks charge about US$10 to receive a telegraphic transfer in US$. In buying and selling German marks, the rates differ from the market fixings by about the same amounts as for US$. In buying and selling other major currencies, telegraphic transfers still differ from market fixings by about 1 or 2 yen (or maybe 3 yen for British pounds, just guessing), and rates for traveller's cheques are almost reasonable, but rates for cash get really bad. For example, the buying and selling rates for Canadian cash differ by about 20%, and the buying and selling rates for Hong Kong cash differ by about 30%. For minor currencies, it is even worse. Postal money orders to other countries also use the prior day's bank selling rate. The fee is usually 1,000 to 3,000 yen (500 yen higher than for US$) but the post office sends the money orders themselves through some system, instead of making (or letting) the buyer send or carry the money orders as to the US. Postal money orders to some countries can be sent by telegraphic transfer (giro) instead of the post office's paper money order system. The cost is intermediate between ordinary money orders and Japanese bank telegraphic transfers. But some Japanese postal employees don't understand the word "giro" even when it's painted on the signboard in front of them. Some Japanese banks will also sell demand drafts for a rate equivalent to telegraphic transfer with a fee of 2,500 yen instead of 4,500. But the buyer has to return the next day to pick up the draft and still has to send or carry it to the destination country. If you are sending a telegraphic transfer from another country, you might find it cheaper to send the transfer in yen, so that you pay the conversion rate set by your bank instead of the Japanese bank. But again, I don't know if a Japanese bank might charge a fee to receive a telegraphic transfer even in yen. Do not send or bring a bank draft payable in yen, from another country. Even if the draft is payable by a Japanese bank, and even if the recipient (or your own bank, after you open an account) understands the draft, they will charge very high fees. Also do not send or bring a bank draft payable in any other currency; the fees are even higher. Only traveller's cheques have reasonable fees, along with telegraphic transfers and US$ cash. ------------------------------ Subject: (6.7) What are the laws for Japanese citizenship at birth? Last update: 4/96 From: Mike Fester (mfester@iisc.com) [disclaimer] The following was written by an individual who is not an expert, nor a lawyer in the matter in question. The information is believed to be correct, but don't say you weren't warned if it's wrong. 0. If both parents are Japanese citizens then the child is a Japanese citizen; though if the child is known to have a second citizenship for some reason (such as being born in a country that grants citizenship due to place of birth) then rules for dual citizens apply. 1. If one parent is a Japanese citizen and one parent is a non-Japanese citizen, then the child is a Japanese citizen, but must choose by age 22 whether to keep Japanese citizenship or the other citizenship. The child's choice is recognized legally by Japan. The child's choice might or might not be recognized by the other country, so the child might choose Japan and still be a dual citizen when in the other country or maybe third countries. Until recently, this was the rule only if the father was the Japanese citizen -- if the mother was the Japanese citizen, the child might become stateless as a result. But the law no longer discriminates by parent's sex. Note: For a child born overseas, the child MUST be entered in the family registry of the Japanese parent, technically withing 30 days of the child's birth. This can be done at the nearest Japanese embassy. 2. If both parents are non-Japanese, then the child is not a Japanese citizen. Status depends only on the laws of the countries of the parents' citizenships, and maybe of the country where the child was born. 3. If the parents are not married but both recognize the child as theirs, the above rules still apply. 4. If the parents are not married and the father does not recognize the child as his, then only the mother's citizenship (and possibly the child's place of birth) determine the child's citizenship(s). 5. If both parents are unknown and the child was born in Japan, then the law says that the child is a Japanese citizen. This case has probably not been tested recently in the courts or otherwise, so the status of such a child will probably in reality, be stateless. Such a case was tested, and last year (1995) the final verdict rendered; the child in question was granted Japanese citizenship, over the objections of the Japanese government. The court cited the intention of the law, which is to specifically PREVENT children born in Japan from being stateless. The government had argued that the mother was "probably" a Filippina, and lower courts had alternately accepted and rejected the government's argument. The US-born missionary championing the child's case pursued the matter all the way to the Japanese Supreme Court, where the above-mentioned verdict was rendered. ------------------------------