Anytime you travel to a new country, you will find that there are new laws and rules to follow. If you look harder, you will find special rules that apply to foreigners and visitors. Check out our article as we look at the different rules and laws that foreigners in Japan must follow.
Traveling can be a worthwhile and life-enriching experience. It can help you understand different cultures and broaden your perspective of life in different countries. One thing that most people forget is that when they go to these countries, they need to follow the new laws and rules. If you investigate the new rules you will find that some only apply to non-native people, whether they are written or unwritten. Japan is no exception and there a few rules that visitors and new residents should know about. Foreigners in Japan are encouraged to look closely at the new laws when deciding to move to Japan.
The first thing that foreigners in Japan should remember is that they must always have identification on them. This means if you are there on vacation, you must keep your passport on your person no matter what you are doing. It is illegal for foreigners in japan to be without it. If you do not have your passport, and a police officer stops you and asks for it, they can take you into custody until you produce your identification. They can hold you for hours at a time and you will not be allowed to make phone calls or talk to anyone until they deem so. It is an inconvenience that can end with you being fined or even sent to jail if they cannot get your I.D. This is the same for foreigners living in Japan, except they must keep their residence card on them. The laws of Japan are strict, and it will usually end badly for any foreigners who find themselves in trouble.
It isn’t required by law, but it is expected of any person in Japan to try and do their best to not inconvenience others. This could involve picking up trash or keeping areas clean or noise-free. For foreigners living in Japan, they will have new responsibilities such as being added to a neighborhood watch, having to clear heavy snowfall in communities, or volunteering at the local fire station.
The rules will be different depending on the area you stay in, but there are many community responsibilities that people will be expected to take care of. This can be seen in the rural areas of Japan in which there are community gardens that the surrounding households participate in.
Try to keep an open mind and do your best to pitch in with the work. It can make your life easier when the community sees non-Japanese residents helping everyone.
Acting in Public
Foreigners in Japan have a reputation, and some are better than others. In general, Japan has a group mentality and if one person from an area of the world acts a certain way, they will think that everyone from that part of the world is the same. First impressions are very important and even if they understand that you are not from Japan, they will have a limit to how much they can endure.
An important thing to remember is public etiquette and how you should act on public transportation. One thing that has been complained about the most is the use of cellular phones and the ensuing loud conversations from them. Cell phone calls should not be taken on public transport, they should be set to silent or manner mode, and music should be low enough so other passengers cannot hear it.
There have been many instances in which foreigners have become loud and unruly, and there has been a stigma attached to all people from that country. Try your best to look at social norms in Japan and be mindful of your surroundings when you get there.
Owning in Japan
Japan has become more accepting of foreigners living and working in the country over the years and it seems that more people will be allowed into the country as time goes on. This means that more foreigners in Japan will try to own houses, cars, and other large buildings or vehicles. Some areas of ownership will be difficult for non-Japanese residents, while others will remain the same. Owning a house without a Japanese spouse, or resident to live with is a difficult task.
The first hurdle is that everything is in Japanese, and if you cannot read, write, and speak the language, you will not be able to navigate the process. You will have trouble getting loans from banks for the house, as well as business loans if you are trying to start a new chain or personal business. You will need help from residents or partners in your business to acquire the initial funding.
The second step for owning a house requires a property that has been appraised by the local government, has its property lines drawn, and is up to recent building codes. If you do not meet these standards, you will be denied the paperwork and permits needed for occupancy. This can be made easier if you have a Japanese resident helping you. In most cases, this is for new families finding a home, but it is also necessary for business loans and transactions.
The rules for vehicles are not as strict as homeownership or business, but again, having a native resident to help with the process will help greatly. Owning small vehicles simply require the money for purchase and a residence card. If you have a place to stay, a job, and the money, you will be fine. Large vehicles require a co-signer and you will most likely need a native Japanese person to sign and complete transactions. Make sure to look at all the necessary steps for any large purchases you will make.
There are many unwritten rules that you will find in your area and some will only apply to foreigners in Japan. It can make many situations troublesome and even block you from creating a business, but they can all be completed with enough perseverance and hard work. Make sure to do all the necessary research so you don’t end up in a situation that will leave you with nothing. Try to understand the laws and rules of your new home and you will enjoy your time in Japan.