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Excerpted from the Japan Career Guide

Cost of Living

Tokyo continues to be one of the most expensive cities in the world for expatriates, ranking seventh in Mercer’s most recent global cost of living index. That ranking is down from third place the previous year.


When renting an apartment in Japan, expats should seek the assistance of an estate agent (Fudousan-ya), rather than renting directly from a landlord. Agents’ Japanese language skills are of critical importance.


The Japanese transportation system is one of the best in the world. The country’s fast, efficient rail system is the best and most popular method for traveling around the country, although some discounted air travel can be cheaper.

Medical Care/Health Insurance

Health insurance coverage is required for resident foreigners and long-term visitors. Foreigners staying in the country less than one year are not covered and should buy private insurance coverage, although this is not required.

Work Schedules and Holidays

Generally, working hours in Japan cannot exceed 40 hours per week or eight hours per day, excluding breaks. However, some businesses in the retail and services sectors can have their employees work up to 44 hours a week at a maximum of eight hours per day.


Japan uses a progressive income tax system, with rates from 5 to 40 percent, depending on income. A surtax of 2.1 percent is added to help pay for recovery from the 2011 earthquake

Social Security and Pension

Japan has a universal social insurance system in which everyone residing in Japan must participate. All workers who meet certain criteria are covered by the insurance.

This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Japan Guide.

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