Workplace Etiquette in Japan: How to Quit Your Job

Quitting your job in Japan may be quite different as compared to other countries, and if you have to leave, you should do it properly. Relationships are to be valued, and rules are to be followed. Make sure you know all the proper steps to do so.

Table of Contents

Deciding to Quit

The essence of having a job is that it gives a person a strong sense of security, belongingness, and purpose. Many foreigners choose Japan because of the many opportunities it provides, but at times, plans or minds may change.

After personal contemplation, if the purpose for joining a company can no longer be attained by staying, it might be best that the person resign and move on to the next step. People often have differing reasons for resigning, be it professional or personal. So how do you go about it?

On Graceful Exits

The Japanese work culture tends to be formal, as there is a set process for many things, including resignation. 

Grounds for Proper Resignation

To show professionalism and gratitude towards the company, one must submit a resignation with an acceptable reason for quitting. Employees who want to resign must hand over their resignation letters a month to two weeks prior to quitting. (The time expected may be detailed in one’s contract, so it is best to refer to that.) One is expected to announce and give adequate notice to quitting to give consideration and to show respect to the company, regardless of the reason for quitting. 

Here are some reasons that may be incorporated in the resignation letter.

  • You aim for a change in career path or looking for other professional opportunities.

  • You had to leave due to personal or family reasons.

  • You are looking for new challenges or to relocate.

Some employers will try to keep their employees from quitting, so be sure to be firm in your decision and do not give in if that isn’t what you want! But it’s best not to provide complaints or false reasons for quitting. One does not necessarily have to overshare about the reason or even mention the next place of employment. Just keep the notice simple and professional. 

When handing the resignation letter in, it’s best to talk to your employers directly. This may help keep away from misunderstandings between employee and employer. Honesty to a point and positivity are keys to better communication and to attempt the best possible outcome which is to obtain a graceful exit.

The Process of Resigning

As mentioned above, one turns in a resignation letter and notifies their employers. What next? These are the actions expected of a person in their final weeks of employment.

Before leaving, make sure to return all company belongings and on-hand documents. Despite quitting, one must still show professionalism and take remaining responsibilities such as returning company owned units and documents in an organized manner and in its best conditions for the sake of professional ties. It may also ease the burden on the replacement if such belongings and documents are returned properly and in a timely manner.

You are expected to properly transfer your responsibilities to the person or people who will take over your projects or job. Typically, your last job would be to teach or prepare materials for the replacement personnel to grasp any needed skills or information required for your job. This often occurs not shorter than two weeks of your last day. This period may extend depending on the complexity of your position, which is why informing your employer about a month in advance is recommended. This ensures that the efficiency of the workplace would not be impaired.

And last but not the least, do not forget to prepare small gifts or tokens of gratitude for everyone, such as your team. Gifts and tokens are valued but it does not necessarily mean that it should be expensive. Giving gifts before leaving is an established workplace culture; it is a good way to show sincerity and appreciation through the time of working together. Anything would be great if it is thoughtfully given. It will also appear more thoughtful if it is accompanied by a message sticker or note expressing a short message of appreciation and goodbye.

For some people, it is ideal to stick with careers or even one job for a lifetime but nowadays more and more people seek other career paths which leads to quitting the present one. It is okay to quit, as long as you are also ready to take the next steps!

Start Fresh

Immigration Notifications

Notifying the Immigration Bureau is a must! To steer clear of immigration troubles, one must notify the bureau within two weeks after leaving the company. The purpose of notifying the immigration bureau is for them to track down an employee’s job history and confirming the validity of their visa. By doing so, people who quit from their jobs will not encounter problems especially in looking for another job. Notifying the immigration is easy as long as you have a valid visa.

Koyou Hoken Benefit

Japan has provisions for unemployed individuals! The country offers unemployment insurance for those people who quit or lose their jobs and are still on-the-lookout for a new job. It is known as the koyou hoken benefit. This is an extended social support by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and is assisted by the government organization called Hello Work.

You will only be granted the unemployment insurance benefits if and only if the employment insurance contributions are paid both by the employee and the employer, so make sure to secure the insurance card from your employer. For just half a year of employment and insurance payments, one can apply for this!

The following needs to be submitted to be able to enroll in the said insurance.

  • 離職票 (rishokuhyo) - a notice of separation provided by the employer

  • residence card

  • bank book

  • hanko

  • 2 passport-sized photos

Hello Work will do the processing and calculations to see how much you are eligible to receive. But of course, all of this is only applicable if you are actively job-hunting and only up until you have found a new job.

※ Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners, "When you resign from a company"
※ Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, "To those who have left their jobs," p.2


To quit one’s job is not a sign of weakness. It might just be another opportunity to pursue in order to obtain success. Quitting your present job in Japan might just be the right course of action you need to take in order to be victorious in your next job! Just remember that in Japan, even when quitting from work, one should undergo the proper methods and traditions. By doing so, you may be able to maintain professional relationships and connections, or just leave the best impression upon your exit. Regardless, good luck with your next steps!

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