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Old 08-17-2013, 01:40 PM   #21
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It does not seem like you need reinforcement but the comments that struck me is he is very well thought of to have been offered this responsibility and do this while you are young (under 35?) and/or with few other responsibilities. I visited Japan several times for my job. While many cultural aspects are a little too formal and regimented for me, the people were terrific. Even given my culture comment, I would have moved there if I had been presented the same opportunity your son has been given. His entire year there will be like going to school but it may be the best year of school he has ever experienced.

My funny Japan story. I do not read or speak Japanese. My co-worker helps me through the process of getting on the train. At my stop, I depart the train and begin to look for the exit to the train station. I look around and see nothing that looks like an exit. 45 minutes later, I finally find the exit. I should have been out the door in 3 minutes. Boy, did I feel silly wondering the station for that long. A grown man.

Then, the taxi is right outside the exit. I was really happy about that. The driver is well groomed, large car beautifully maintained, big trunk, etc. He happily takes my bag and places it in the trunk. Trots over to open the door for me. I settle into the back seat, still feeling like a lost school boy and he gets himself already to drive. I guess in Japanese asks me where I want to go. So, I hand him the note my co-worker wrote for me. He pauses for what seems like eternity. Looks back at me, without a smile. Goes to the back of the cab and pulls my bag out of the trunk. Opens the backseat door to the taxi where I am sitting and signals me to get out of the cab. I have no clue what my co-worker wrote or if somehow I offended the driver. He points to me, my bag and a small building about 150 yards from where we were standing. It turned out that it was my hotel. What a culture shock that day was for me.
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Old 08-17-2013, 03:43 PM   #22
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Just tell him not to eat the seafood that glows in the dark!

I have a wife and 3 kids, and am begging the Navy to send the whole family overseas for the next tour, just for the experience we will have.
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Old 08-17-2013, 06:46 PM   #23
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This is an opportunity too good to miss which may never be repeated. This will be a fantastic learning opportunity and Japan is one of the best places to travel for work in terms of safety and infrastructure. IMHO DS should definitely say yes.
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Old 08-17-2013, 07:03 PM   #24
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I would say this is an opportunity not to be missed.

I moved overseas to a non-English-speaking country at age 26 and stayed a few years. My wife came with me. I did not work for an international company, but for a local one. Thus, I did not have any help from my employer with respect to settling in, etc. Nor did I connect into any ex-pat scene as the place was small enough not to have too many other Americans around.

We both learned the language, customs, the health care system, etc. We became very comfortable world travelers. We would both readily move back overseas for a stint of a few years or more at the drop of a hat.

Anyways, it changed our lives for the better and we will always remember fondly the experiences.

I do some work occasionally in Japan and have travelled there quite a bit (i.e. not just Tokyo). I would also move there at the drop of a hat. Several of my colleagues have lived and worked in Japan. It will be eye-opening and great experience. If it was your daughter, it would be more difficult.

Clearly, your son's employer has to pick someone. I can imagine they think that it would be easier to send someone without children and perhaps without a spouse.

Anyways, I don't see any downside. Perhaps ask for travel expenses for three to six trips back to the US annually (be sure to stop in Hawaii).

(@davef, great taxi story!)
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Old 08-17-2013, 07:10 PM   #25
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One of my sons had a similar opportunity at 25 that he turned down... his reasons were (in my view) somewhat misguided and did not turn out as he had thought. While there are no guarantees I believe it is much more likely he would be better off financially today than he is now (3 years later), had he taken advantage of the opportunity.
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:16 PM   #26
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Your son might find this satirical article from The Onion of interest on the flip side of not moving far away and climbing the corporate ladder-

Unambitious Loser With Happy, Fulfilling Life Still Lives In Hometown | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
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Old 08-18-2013, 08:00 PM   #27
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Like Brett said, Just go!

I had an assignment there several years ago. No problem. Japanese is one of the easier languages. Engineers will speak English anyway.

No matter what happens when he returns, he will have extremely marketable experience.

Just be sure the hotels have western toilets.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:56 AM   #28
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Great opportunity!
He should make sure that the company arranges for his appartment in Japan - housing in Tokyo is expensive and traveling from the outskirts into the center and back can take long hours.
If he has to arrange for himself he might try airbnb or something like that for the first weeks, till he gets a feeling in which area he would like to live and what he can afford.

There are lots of expats in Tokyo area and the internet allows much better than in the old days to find them cross companies and build connections, as I hear from young expats and interns in my company.
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Old 08-19-2013, 05:35 AM   #29
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This would be my advice also.
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Like Brett said, Just go!
.
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:27 AM   #30
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I spent 5 years in Japan as an engineering manager. My overseas assignments (Japan and UK) were great professionally, financially, and personally. I actually found Japan to be easier than the UK (because I knew it was going to be different and I was prepared).

My advice is to go. As others have said, megacorps don't give overseas assignments to just any employee. It costs a lot of money to send someone overseas and house them. They typically invest this money in folks who they think are destined for upper management and can benefit from the experience. The fact that your son has been asked to do this tells me that his managers think well of him and are putting him on a career track that has room for advancement. This can be stressful, but can also be a lot of fun as you learn knew things and experience new challenges.

You don't say where in Japan he is going. If it is one of the big urban areas near Tokyo or Osaka, he will find that life is relatively easy but it will a bit hard to learn the language. Westerners are catered to in the big cities. There is a large foreign contingent that socializes and acts as a support network, you have easy access to Western food and other goods, and English speakers are always close by. I had a really hard time practicing my little Japanese in Osaka because every time I opened my mouth the person I was talking to wanted to practice their English!!!

The rural areas are more difficult. I had one co-worker who had been immersed for 1.5 years in a small village where he and his wife were the only non-Japanese. He had much better Japanese than I did and developed good social relationships with his co-workers. However his wife got very lonely. She was overjoyed when they moved to Osaka and she could join the expat wives clubs.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:22 AM   #31
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If he is interested in additional responsibility and more career options in his future then he should go. If he is the type who wants to put in 8 hour days without management responsibility for the next 30-40 years, he should not go.

That said, I will echo what many others have said, being a Megacorp expat is generally a very positive experience career-wise, personally, and financially. We spent 4 years in Germany when I was in my late 30s/early 40s and our kids were young and it was a really good experience, although at times it was very difficult. The first year was by far the hardest, so it's too bad that your son won't have the pleasure of enjoying much of the easier times that come once you get used to things. But that's not a reason to turn it down.
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Old 08-19-2013, 11:06 AM   #32
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A buddy in college had a business major and a minor in Japanese language. He spent his junior year abroad in Japan to become fluent. He got a great job right out of college making good $. Ended up marrying a Japanese woman. He has been back and forth between the States and Japan - still enjoys his work and has quite a nice lifestyle going....
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Old 08-19-2013, 11:55 AM   #33
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+1

This used to be a big part of US corporate culture, and it good they are still doing it. "We'll train you and send you to where the action is" are magic words and he's not likely to hear them again if he declines.

+1 on this....


Also, he might be the first out the door if times are tough.... I had a friend who worked in an accounting firm.... the regional partner put him up for a position in the Washington office doing some research etc... he declined... in less than a year that partner was able to push him out the door... he had been on track to make partner.... but that one decision was a killer....
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Old 08-19-2013, 12:15 PM   #34
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I believe the city is Nishio Aichi, but not positive. Anyone have any experience/knowledge of that area?
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Old 08-19-2013, 12:45 PM   #35
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According to Wiki Nishio, Aichi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia it's a fairly small town of ~165,000 with a foreign population of ~6000 (=3.5% of the population). Sounds like it might be a great place to learn to speak Japanese.

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Old 08-19-2013, 01:24 PM   #36
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I was say go for it. My Dad was there for the Occupation and learned Japanese (he still practices it today). He loved his time there. We have been there six or seven times and enjoyed it. I will note that my mother is Japanese-American but doesn't speak the language and well so people would try to talk to her but my dad would answer since she didn't always know what they were saying.
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Old 08-21-2013, 12:45 AM   #37
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I believe the city is Nishio Aichi, but not positive. Anyone have any experience/knowledge of that area?
This would be very near Toyoda City, HQ of Toyota, as well as most of the major auto parts suppliers in Japan. Foreigners are probably still pretty rare in that area. But, still a great opportunity. I was based in Tokyo, but I really liked Aichi prefecture. The people there were great.

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Old 09-07-2013, 06:01 PM   #38
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Has your son made his decision yet?
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Old 09-07-2013, 06:29 PM   #39
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We met someone in South Africa whose daughter(an engineer) worked at Toyota South Africa. She jumped at the chance to go to Japan for the experience. After that she apparently wants to go to yet another location.

She said that he daughter very much enjoyed working in Japan-for the experience of being in a foreign country and for the experience of working with the engineering and quality teams.

How can it not be a fabulous opportunity for someone so early on in their career.
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Old 09-07-2013, 06:47 PM   #40
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Has your son made his decision yet?
According to my son he was told the curriculum was too basic for the engineers. They are sending non-engineer staff and plan to put together a more advanced program geared for the engineers. Hopefully this will happen and he will get an opportunity at that time.
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