How to resign from a job in Japan - step by step guide

When you resign from your job in Japan, it’s important to do it professionally. Relationships are vital in any successful career and there are some steps you should take to resign gracefully. In this article, we’ve put together some top tips on the steps you should take before leaving a job, how to write a resignation letter and what to do before you resign from your job. We’ve also answered some of the common questions in relation to Japanese resignation letters and resignation processes at the end of the article.

Making the decision to resign and move on from your job is always difficult. Whether you’ve been there for years, or are relatively new to the company, it’s never easy to take on the daunting task of looking for a new job. You may want to read this article to check if you portray some of the key signs that could suggest it’s time for you to start considering your options before you resign: 7 signs you’re ready to move on from your current role

 

What is the best timing for quitting a job in Japan?

In Japan, most companies focus on hiring full-timers from February to March as well as September to October. This means that if you start looking for a job in Spring, a short requirement process with the intention of finishing by March or April and getting the right candidate on board by April or May, is expected. In addition, HR department tend to be in a hurry to use up their budgets before the financial year, which also results in a smoother hiring process.

 

When is the earliest you can submit your resignation letter to a company in Japan?

Legally, you should hand in your resignation letter two weeks before your desired last day. Although the policy may differ from one company to another, this is the general rule in Japan.

Some companies may require you to give them a 3-month notice for fixed-term employees. If you are a regular employee, it is usually a 2-weeks’ notice period, but our recommendation is to announce your resignation one month in advance to account for a proper handover process (finding a new candidate to fill your position and delegating your tasks etc.).

 

A summary of what you need to do when you decide to resign from your job

  1. Choose the right timing to look for a new job (ie. Some jobs in Japan may be seasonal or there may be more job openings in Japan after bonus season, etc.)
  2. Get a job offer from a new employer before you hand in your resignation letter
  3. Inform your manager and hand in your resignation with your current employer
  4. Fill out the necessary documents at your current company
  5. Hand over your duties to the other employees where necessary
  6. Take your unused paid leave
  7. Return your employee ID and health insurance card

 

6 top tips on things to do when you resign from your job in Japan

  1. Give adequate notice – don’t forget that your company needs time to find a replacement. You don’t want to make things harder than they need to be especially if you’re part of a critical project.
  2. Complete your handover properly – try to make this as detailed and informative as possible for your replacement.
  3. Stay positive – whatever your personal feelings have been about your current job, focus on how much you’ve learnt and the benefits you’ve had from your time with the company. Remaining upbeat in your last days can enable you to leave on a positive note.
  4. Exchange contact details with your colleagues – offer your personal e-mail address and make sure to connect with your colleagues on LinkedIn. You never know when you’ll need to call upon your former colleagues.
  5. Finish strong – don’t fall into the trap of getting sloppy in your last few weeks.
  6. Ask for a reference - don’t forget to ask for a reference from your employer so that you’ll be able to publicly showcase your contributions and successes.

 

9 steps to write a Japanese resignation letter

We have put together some points that you should include in your Japanese resignation letter to ensure an amicable resignation. If there is no company-specified form which you have to fill in for the resignation letter, you may follow the steps below.

  1. Title: Write ‘resignation application (退職願)' or 'resignation notification (退職届)' at the beginning.
  2. Line of space: Leave a line of space between the title and opening line.
  3. Opening Line: Write '私儀' or '私事' but place this at the bottom instead of top of page.
  4. State your reason for resigning: If you are resigning for personal reasons, it is not necessary to give details. You can just write "一身上の都合 (for personal reasons)".
  5. Resignation date: If it’s a resignation letter, state the date you wish to resign. If it’s a resignation notice, write the date agreed upon in discussion with your supervisor. Either the western or Japanese calendar is acceptable.
  6. Closing sentence: If it’s a resignation letter, use a request such as "お願い申し上げます (Thank you for your understanding)", while if it’s a resignation notice, state that you are reporting the fact that you are resigning as you are submitting the letter after your resignation has already been finalised.
  7. Date: Enter the date on which you are submitting this letter.
  8. Department and name of your immediate supervisor or HR: Fill in the position & name of the addressee and affix your seal under their name.
  9. Name of addressee who is a Head of Company: Enter the title and name of the Chief Executive Officer, President or Representative Director, etc. is common. The honorific title is 殿 (dono). Always ensure that your name is at the bottom of the page whilst the Head of Company’s name and position should be above.

 

Japanese resignation letter don’ts

There are a few things you shouldn’t include when writing a Japanese resignation letter. For example, resignation letters are not supposed to be a platform for you to complain or critique your employers or co-workers – keep it simple, stick to the facts and don’t sound negative. It is important to leave a positive impression.

 

What’s the difference between a Japanese resignation letter and a retirement notice?

Depending on the company, resignation letters (退職願) and resignation notices (退職届) can be treated as the same thing. Legally, the difference between a Japanese resignation letter and a resignation notice is the former represents a document offering an agreed termination of the labour contract while the latter notifies your resignation to the company. In short, the difference is not in the title or form, but in the substantive meaning. Retirement notice (辞表) is a document that you submit to your HR department.

 

  • Japanese Resignation letter (退職願): a document you submit when you request resignation (termination of the labour contract) from the company. A written resignation letter is not always necessary when requesting resignation. It can also be given verbally. The resignation letter is first submitted to your immediate supervisor. If you require a shorter notice period, please speak with your supervisor.
  • Resignation notice (退職届): a document you submit to the company to notify your intention to resign once you have confirmed your resignation with your immediate supervisor. Many companies have their own resignation processes and who to submit your resignation notice to, so check with your immediate supervisor in advance.
  • Retirement notice (辞表): a document you must submit to the president, directors and other management personnel as well as HR.

These documents are very similar so ask someone in your HR department directly if you need any clarification. Do take note that some companies may have a specific resignation letter format and process of submitting the notice so the above can only be used as a reference.

 

What documents should you ask for before you leave your company?

  • Resignation certificate (退職証明書 or 離職票)
  • Withholding tax slip
  • Unemployment insurance certificate and pensions book (only for employees who have been enrolled in their company’s social insurance scheme)
  • Certificate of health insurance coverage loss
  • Reference letter

 

What are some things you need to return to your current company when you resign from your job in Japan?

Don’t forget to return the following things to your HR department:

  • Your company insurance card
  • Business card
  • Employee ID card
  • Employee pin badge
  • Company computer / laptop
  • Company phone
  • Documents related to your work

 

It’s also a good idea to check with your HR department if there are any other documents that they need from you.

 

Looking for a new job in Japan?

We hope that the above has helped you with some resignation tips for your job in Japan. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new job but don’t take your eye off the old one because the way you leave represents your professionalism. Once you’ve submitted your resignation letter and are ready to leave, you may want to check our top tips to help you prepare in the lead-up to that all-important first day.

If you are looking to resign but have yet to find a job in Japan, you may also check out our latest jobs page via the button or via the contact us form below. Computer Futures offers career support for a variety of jobs in Japan as well as candidate tips and career counselling. Contact us to find out more.

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