As the energy market changes and grows, the talent shortage is clearly apparent. For firms new to Japan and uncertain about project volume and staffing needs, as well as companies with a fluctuating workload, employing temporary contract workers can be an attractive solution. Like many things in Japan, however, from the business culture to square watermelons, contract employment is not quite the same as in many other countries.
The image of contract workers
Japanese society places a high value on stability. This directly impacts one’s ability to borrow money, gain access to higher class rental apartments, and approval from fathers for their daughter’s hand in marriage!
Working in a reputable, stable, well-known firm typically holds more weight than the individual’s income. For example, a lender will assess both the individual and their employer, and possibly refuse credit based on the latter’s reputation and status, or the length of employment and overall work conditions.
Compared to countries such as the UK or the U.S. that have a robust market for freelancers who choose projects that satisfy their interest or pay over permanent work, Japan has a rather tepid freelancer community. There are exceptions, in particular in the tech space, where software developers, SAP experts, etc, have increasingly turned to freelancing due to project-based work. In general, however, visa challenges make it difficult for Japan to build a strong base of foreign highly-skilled freelancers.