How to Quit Your Job in Japan

It’s a typical weekday morning in the office you receive an email from a hiring manager, saying they’d like to offer you a new job — great! Now all that’s left is to quit your job in Japan. But how do you resign peacefully without burning any bridges?  

Luckily, gone is Japan’s postwar trend for companies to expect their employees to have unshakable loyalty. Now, more people are seeing benefits from finding new jobs in Japan than, well, sticking to them. 

Don’t get to excited yet. Whether you’re from an international startup or a traditional Japanese company, there are certain employment Japanese protocols (and guidelines) to follow when you plan to quit your job in Japan. After all, you want to resign properly and leave on good terms to keep your future career prospects intact. 

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What you need to know before quitting your job in Japan

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

The general rule is to hand in your resignation letter two weeks before your desired last day. This is according to the Japanese labor law, but policies vary from one company to another. 

It can also boil down to your employment type. If you are a regular employee, a two-week notice is fine, but some companies may enforce 3-month notice for fixed-term employees. 

However, considering the actual handover process (finding new candidates and delegating your current tasks), it is recommended to announce your retirement one month in advance. 

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

To put it simply, a letter of resignation (退職願 or taishoku nega) is a document requesting your retirement that may be rejected by your company. A retirement notice (退職届 or taishoku todoke), on the other hand, notifies the company of your decision regardless of whether or not they refuse them. 

Yes, they are two different things (semantics, we know). To understand what separates a letter of resignation and a resignation notice in Japanese culture, take a look at their kanji.

  • Letter of resignation: 退職願 (taishoku nega)
  • Retirement notice: 退職届 (taishoku todoke)

Both Japanese words are similar, with the only difference being the end kanji character.  The kanji 願 (nega) means ‘wish’, while the kanji 届 (todo/todoke) means ‘notification’ or ‘registration’.  

It is rare for a company to withdraw an employee’s letter of resignation. In general, it doesn’t matter which one you submit as both are based off on the same intention. 

If you are in doubt, you can ask directly to your employers about it. Some companies in Japan may have a specific resignation letter format and process of submitting the formal notice.

Things to prepare before you quit your job in Japan

Give proper notice to your employer or manager (1-3 months before)

For a Japanese company, a face-to-face meeting with your immediate supervisor one to three months in advance is the ideal benchmark. If you’re working in a niche industry, the company may not be able to arrange for a successor and have enough time to take over your duties. One month gives your managers — and yourself — plenty of time to manage a smooth job transition. 

Be sure to use Japanese keigo when you talk to your managers. You want to keep things professional and polite. 

Follow up with an official letter of resignation (2 weeks to 1 month before)

From here, follow up with an official letter of resignation. If you’re working at an international company or reporting to a foreign supervisor,  you can proceed to submit the letter in English (although, again, always check with your boss!). 

Similar to English resignation letters, there are no rules on how to write a Japanese retirement notice as long as the declaration of intention to retire is made.

However, it can still be daunting to write your letter in Japanese. MyNavi provides several great templates. 

You can either write them horizontally or vertically.

japanese letter of resignation

退職届け (taishoku todoke)
Resignation Letter 

令和〇年〇月〇日 (reiwa (year) nen (month) gatsu (day) nichi)
The actual submission date

株式会社 (kabushiki gaisha)
Company name

代表取締役 (daihyou torishimariyaku)
Name of your superior or representative

〇部〇課 (section) bu (role) ka)
Section and role followed by your name. It is considered desirable to sign your name by hand and have the letter sealed with a Japanese personal stamp (印鑑 or inkan). 

私事 (watakushi goto)
Private affairs. 私事 (watakushi goto) can also be replaced by
私儀 (watakushigi) as it has the same meaning. You may also write 一身上の都合により (isshinjō no tsugo ni yori), which means “for personal reasons”. 

Kono tabi ishhinjou no tsugou, reiwa (year) nen (month) gatsu (day) nichi wo motte taishoku itashitaku, onegai moushi agemasu).
I announce that I have decided to leave my current position on (year) (month) (date).

When you are forced to resign, you may want to change the sentence a bit. Under that circumstance, never write 私事 (watakushi goto) or 一身上の都合により as the company and Japanese government may view your retirement as your own decision. This can be the difference between on-time and delayed unemployment benefits. 

Instead, if there is ever the unfortunate case where you are forced to quit, write these reasons: 

退職勧奨に伴い (Taishoku kansho ni tomonai)
Due to retirement recommendation

部門縮小のため (Bumon shukusho no tamo)
Due to department reduction  

Prepare your resignation by making handover materials (3 days to 1 week before)

For projects that are likely to be carried over to a new employee, you will need to organize your workflow, history and future month plans. Chances are, your duties will be handed over to someone who’s never worked on the same project before, so make some time to teach them. Better yet, make a detailed handover document to avoid any misinformation. 

You have to think about the rest of your team. Always prioritize urgent tasks and projects. From here, you can figure out how your team can adapt to your transition. Arrange personal meetings if you need to go over the details with certain team members.

You may need to write business emails to business clients and partners to make sure all communications aren’t cut off.

Do proper goodbye to your coworkers (your last day)

You want to end things on a light note as much as possible. It’s customary in most Japanese companies to prepare small gifts or sweets on your last day. 

Pro tip: Opt for individually wrapped sweets or sweets with a long expiration date. It’s a waste of packaging, but it is a part of Japan’s gift-giving culture. 

You can make a small speech to announce your retirement to your seniors (senpai) and juniors (kohai) at the office. Make sure to address them with proper Japanese honorifics

Useful Japanese phrases to use when you resign 

How to say “I Quit” in Japanese

Totsuzende moshiwakenai nodesuga, isshinjo no tsugo de taishoku sa sete itadakitaku, o jikan o itadakimashita.
I’m sorry for the suddenness, but I wanted to retire due to personal reasons, so I’ve taken your time.
When to use: You’re meeting your boss to talk about your retirement plan

Dekireba ◯ getsumatsu made ni taishoku sa sete itadakitai to kangaete iru nodesuga, gutaitekina nittei wa go sodan sa sete kudasai.
If possible, I would like to retire by the end of (month), but please let me know about a specific schedule.

Yoku kangaemashitaga ishi wa kawarimasen.
I’ve thought a great deal about it, but I won’t be changing my decision. 

saying i quit my job in japanese

What to say to your coworkers

Oisogashii-chu, watashi no tame ni o atsumari itadaki, arigato gozaimasu.
Thank you for gathering for me while you are busy
When to use: You’re giving a goodbye speech to your coworkers

Mina sama ni wa taihen osewa ni narimashita.
Thank you very much for your kindness.

Honjitsu o motte taishoku to narimasu. Kore made arigato gozaimashita. Saigo made ki o nukazu ni ganbarimasunode, yoroshikuonegaishimasu. 
I will be retired from today. Thanks for everything so far. I will do my best until the end, so thank you.
When to use: You’re announcing your retirement on your last day. 

What to cay to clients or business partners in Japan

Watakushigoto de taihen kyoshukudesuga, isshinjō no tsugo ni yori ◯ tsuki ◯ hi o motte taisha suru koto ni narimashita
I am sorry for (bringing up) my personal affairs, but due to personal reasons, I will leave my company on Month Day.

Kongo no kisha no konin tanto o, doryo no ◯ ga tanto sa sete itadakimasu.
My colleague will be in charge of your company’s successor in the future.

Things to submit before you quit your job in Japan

Your last day should be focused on clerical procedures and goodbyes. You will have to return all the items rented or leased by your company. In particular, be sure to hand over documents and devices that contain confidential information. Typical things to return in a Japanese company include: 

  • Health insurance card or 健康保険被保険者証 (kenkohokenhihokenshasho).You can use your health insurance until your retirement date. You can also return it by mail. 
  • Company-supplied equipment or 会社支給の備品 (kaisha shikyū no bihin)
  • Employee ID or 社員証 (shain-sho)
  • Company emblem 社章 (shasho)
  • Business card or 名刺 (meishi)
  • Work clothes or 作業着 (sagyo-gi)
  • Business materials or 業務資料 (gyomu shiryo) and manuals 
  • Rented phones, laptops computers or car keys

Things to receive when you quit your job in Japan

  1. Employment insurance card or 雇用保険被保険者証 (koyohokenhihokenshasho)

Companies in Japan will often keep your employment insurance card, so make sure you don’t forget to receive it back. 

  1. Pension book or 年金手帳 (nenkin techo)

This is a document certifying you are registered to the Japanese welfare pension system. In general, pension handbooks are kept by the person themself, but a company may also store them to prevent loss. 

  1. Withholding slip or 源泉徴収票 (genzenchōshu-hyo)

The withholding slip is a document that describes the amount of salary paid and the amount of tax paid for one year. It is often issued within one month of retirement.

  1. Turnover slip or 離職票 (rishoku-hyō)

This is a document to be submitted to Hello Work when applying for unemployment benefits. If you want to receive an unemployment allowance after retirement, ask the company to issue a turnover slip before you retire. If you have decided where to change jobs, you do not need to have it issued.

  1. Certificate of retirement or 退職証明書 (taishoku shomeisho)

Your new employer may want to prove that you have officially retired. A certificate of retirement can be received immediately from your company. 

Other Japanese words related to quitting a job

Retirement greeting退職のご挨拶 Taishoku no goaisatsu
Retirement reason退職理由Taishoku riyu
At time of retirement退職時Taishoku-ji
Identification card身分証明書Mibun shomeisho
Health insurance card健康保険証Kenko hokensho
Commuter pass通勤定期券Tsukin teikiken
Quit your job仕事を辞めるShigoto wo yameru

Some tips to keep in mind before you quit your job in Japan

1. Keep things positive

Your immediate manager should be the first to hear about your intention to retire before anyone else in the workplace. They will most probably ask about the reason behind your decision.

This stage is important: always mention your future goals instead of expressing dissatisfaction in your workplace. Reasons for retirement aren’t always positive, but that doesn’t mean you have to make your exit messy. Do you want to make it about the company and less about your career plan and outlook? Attacking the company can trigger unwanted attention and scrutiny. 

2. Reaffirm your intention of quitting your job

Clear and positive communication is key. If you’re a treasured employee and your boss isn’t ready to let you go, they might try to negotiate something. Always be prepared for a possible counter-offer. It can be a promotion, salary increase or bonus. If you’ve made up your mind, be firm about it and state that you’re not open to considering either options. 

3. Remember that you are still working there

No matter what, you are still part of your company for at least another month. Don’t make any grudges, especially when it can affect your job change. What you want to do instead is to show sincerity to your company by giving top priority to work as usual while slowly preparing the handover materials. 

Avoid revealing too much about your plans. Don’t boast to your coworkers. One way or another, they’ll find out where you’re going next, but for now, you can avoid any awkwardness by not mentioning the name of your next company. 

Social insurance and tax after you resign from your job

When you retire, there are many external procedures related to your taxes. It may seem particularly difficult for the first time, but it’s all about getting the right tax support and filing your tax return accordingly.

If you retire in July, for example, you can submit a withholding slip to your new office and they will make year-end adjustments instead. However, if you join a new company after the end of November, the procedure may not be completed by the end of the year and you may not be able to make the year-end adjustment. In that case, you will need to file your tax return yourself. 

When you become lawfully unemployed in Japan

Sometimes, resigning from your job isn’t always part of the plan. There may be a time when you’re forced to quit your job. If you don’t have another company to join immediately, you will become officially unemployed in Japan

A good thing is that, unless revoked, your working status is valid until the expiry date and you can stay in Japan until that time. However, you must notify the immigration office within 14 days after you leave your job. After 90 days, they may ask why you are not engaging in your activities. 

Be careful not to mislead the Japanese immigration office about the primary reason you aren’t working.  Looking for work, health leave, going out on a re-entry permit are valid reasons), but lying can lead to revocation of your visa.

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