Getting an interview in Japan

I recently got an email from a Italian living in Japan who has been asked to write for Italian magazines. He said he was having trouble getting interviews with Japanese companies, and asked how I do it.

If I’m trying to get into a government agency or a large corporation, I start with a call to the kōhōbu 広報部 (public affairs division). I’ve got an introductory spiel I do in Japanese, and that, coupled with the paper’s reputation, seems to get me past the gatekeepers. In fact, I’ve only been turned down once, and that was by an orthopedist who refuses all interviews.

written request for an interviewHeads Up #1: public affairs departments often ask for what’s called a kikakusho 企画書. This is a written proposal in which you explain who you are and what you want. The first time I was asked for one of these, I asked a senior editor at the paper to prepare one for me. Ever since I’ve used that as a template to write my own.

Heads Up #2: a government agency will usually insist that the proposal be submitted by fax. Fax?! Who still has a fax machine in this day and age?! Not me. So when I’m trying to get an interview with, say, the National Police Agency, I know I’ll have to run out to a convenience store to fax in my proposal.

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