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Working in Japan can be difficult when you don’t understand some cultural differences, but there is one particular aspect of the Japanese workplace that should not be taken lightly - your contract.

Many jobs in Japan are contract positions. This goes for all sorts of companies and businesses, not just schools and part-time jobs. You can find some contracts for 3 month or 6 month positions, but particularly in the case of Japanese schools, contracts are generally one year long.

There is obviously a deep reason for that, and it is because the Japanese school year is exactly one year long, from the beginning of April to the end of March, and they need dedicated teachers who will stay for the entire school year. The contract is usually renewable depending on your performance and how well you are getting along in your current position.

In other countries, it may seem quite common to change jobs in the middle of the year when you are having a hard time at work or whenever you find a better job opportunity. However, this is greatly frowned upon in Japan. Especially in the case of schools, a one year contract is to be taken very seriously because replacing a teacher mid-year is difficult not only on the school and the students, but also the recruiting company.

It will also reflect very negatively on your resume if you quit in the middle of the school year. Your prospective employer will immediately realise that you will be the type of person to break contract mid-year, and you may lose many job opportunities because you failed to follow through until the end of your contract.

If you are already working at a school, you will probably be aware that the majority of school contracts are offered at the beginning of the school year in April each year, so there will be more opportunities to leave at the appropriate time if you want to find a new position. Professionalism is highly respected and will get you very far in Japan, so please continue to show how dedicated you are to doing a good job and you will be just fine.

Note that there are legitimate and unavoidable reasons why someone would break contract, so be sure to make them clear in your resume or during the interview. Remember that you can always keep in touch with us here at EduCareer by sending your updated resume or letting us know about your current job situation or hopes for the next school year.

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