Excerpted from the Japan Career Guide
Traveling to Japan generally requires a visa and may involve extensive documentation to meet the application requirements. Holding a visa is only one of the requirements for entering Japan and does not guarantee the holder of the visa will be able to enter the country.
Japanese visas are issued according to the purpose of the foreigner's visit. There is a wide array of circumstances that necessitate a visa. In order to be certain what applies to each situation, applicants are encouraged to contact the embassy or consulate responsible for the applicant’s place of residence.
This visa is for applicants wishing to study in accredited programs in Japan lasting longer than 90 days.
Foreign students may work at a part-time job in Japan for up to 28 hours a week. Foreign students are also allowed to travel in and out of the country without having to reapply for visas each time.
Work / Business Visas
Short-term visas are issued for short (less than 90 days) business trips, conferences and business activities other than those that are profit-making. Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries may visit Japan for any non-profit-making activity for less than 90 days without a visa. Foreign nationals from non-visa exempt countries must apply for a short-term visit visa.
Visas for anyone wishing to work in Japan for a period beyond 90 days (long-term stay) are essentially the same as work permits. As such, the procedures for applying for an extended work visa/permit appear under the section ‘Work Permits.’ In addition, there are specific procedures and criteria for obtaining a work permit/visa depending on the applicant’s occupation.
Work visas for employment in Japan exist for the following categories of jobs: professor, artist, religious activities, journalist, investor/business manager, legal/accounting service, medical service, researcher, instructor, engineer, humanities specialist/international services, intra-company transferee, entertainer and skilled labor.
Work permits in Japan are valid for between one and three years. The factors determining which permit is issued depend largely upon the profession in question and the individual applicant. Generally, it is difficult to obtain a work permit if the applicant does not have substantial work experience (i.e., a university degree and/or several years of on-the-job experience) in the field where he or she is seeking a permit.
Procedure Chart for Visas for Work or Long-Term Stays
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Japan Guide.