Japanese visa renewal, part 2: application form fun
To apply for a visa renewal ('extension of period of stay') in Japan, you need to fill out and submit an application form. Duh, obviously. There's a damn form for everything here.
Whether you fill it out in English or Japanese is up to you. But if you've been learning the language for a while, like me, people will expect you to use Japanese.
Considering it's only a 2-page form, getting everything right can be tricky.
Know your place (at work)
In the space where I'd written my proper job title, the person who deals with admin at work suggested I should erase it and just put 'employee'. There were no problems with doing that - I got my new visa. No delays, no questions.
Immigration doesn't tend to care what exactly your job title is. They care that you're here legally, and that you're doing work that comes under the scope of your visa category. Actual name of your job... meh.
Not putting down your full job title isn't going to count against you, as long as you can prove you're employed and meeting your visa conditions.
Know your place (in Japan's visa hierarchy)
On the other hand, for 'current visa type' you need to write out the whole thing.
Let's say you have an 'Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services' visa. Those are 3 separate categories lumped into one visa, you aren't doing all of them at the same time. Pretend you're an engineer for a second.
Technically, your work status comes under the 'Engineer' bit. But that's not the full name of the working visa you hold. And the full name needs to go on the form, or they'll make you write it out again. So don't write 'Engineer' and hope to get away with it. Be accurate down to the forward slashes in between.
Try and remember your university days
When you applied for your first Japanese work visa, Immigration wanted a copy of your degree certificate, remember? You handed it over, they went 'oh yes, this person did graduate from a university with a relevant degree', and that was that.
On the renewal form, you have to put down your university, general subject, and graduation date again. And you'll do it every time you renew, even though it has to be on file in a drawer somewhere.
Why is that info still needed? I'm not sure. I suspect it is, in fact, a memory test.
Have a really good reason to renew
There's a space on the form to write your 'reason for extension'. This answer needs some thought, even if it's simple enough to you.
'So that I can keep doing my job' doesn't count, you see. (I asked.) It's a reason, and a valid one for you, but not inspiring enough to convince Immigration to let you stay.
You've got to get a bit creative. Talk about how you want to carry on... learning about new and shiny things. Growing as a person. Sharing culture and experiences that are uniquely Japanese. Okay, maybe not that flowery - but not far off.
Keep copies of EVERYTHING for next time
Go ahead and make a copy of each form once you're done. You have to submit originals, so it's good to keep copies for your own reference.
When I say 'your own reference', I mean so you can write down the same things again for your next visa renewal. You're more likely to be given a 1-year visa anyway. Better safe than sorry...