The process surrounding resignation is not without some administrative requirements. One of the first tasks you’ll need to complete is written notice of your decision to resign. It is often not sufficient to just tell your boss; a letter will likely need to accompany this discussion.

There are many terms for this document: tai shoku negai, tai shoku todoke, ji hyo… They all essentially describe the same thing: a letter that you hand in to your boss announcing your decision to quit.

Why do you need to submit a formal letter?

Generally, you are required to provide formal notice of your resignation with at least two weeks notice (for most contracts; if unsure, seek legal advice). Often, this doesn’t seem like a lot of time for the people you are leaving behind to prepare for your departure, so most companies will prefer a notice period of at least one month.

The good news is many companies have their own template to fill out. In this case, the work is done for you, and all you need to do is print it, put it inside a white envelope, and hand it to your boss. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself and your own records, and made note of when you handed in your letter, and to whom. In most cases, this will be to your direct supervisor, but some company policies will have a different process they will want you to follow.

What if your company doesn’t have a template?

If your company doesn’t have a template for you to fill out, you’ll need to write your own. There are many terms for this document, but the most appropriate term is a tai shoku negai. It is more respectful than tai shoku hyo or ji hyo - even though your boss cannot reject your decision to quit, it is better to frame this letter as a request than a notice. If you are unsure, ask your boss before you write it.

This letter may seem difficult at first but it is actually very straightforward. You do not need to outline your reasons for your resignation; in fact, Japanese law protects you from needing to justify yourself. However, it should include:

  • A short statement thanking the company for the opportunity and support you received while working there.
  • A short sentence stating that, for personal reasons, you have decided to move on.
  • Include the date you intend to be your final day at the company.

Before you write this letter, it’s best to confirm these details with your boss when you tell them you’ve decided to resign. Though you are allowed to attend this meeting with your letter already written, it is more considerate to discuss what your company would like to be in this letter, as well as whether the date you would like to be your final day is okay for your team.

What you shouldn’t include in your resignation letter

A resignation letter is not an opportunity to complain about your colleagues or the work you had to do. This is a document that will likely remain on file for you for some years, and is accessible by various people. In order to leave with a good impression, keep it short, and like every other business document, write it in professionally.

If you have feedback that you would like to provide, the best time to do this is during your exit interview, if you have one, or to your direct supervisor. Have a care, however; they may not be receptive to your complaints, and you don’t know if you will work with them again. In some cases, it may be best to leave quietly without leaving any feedback at all.

Is a rishoku hyo different?

A rishoku hyo is the letter your company will provide once you have quit. This document should outline your ID number, the period you were employed by the company, and your pay. If you do not have a new job you are moving to, you will need it for the unemployment office. If you do, it may be something your new employer would like to have on file for you.

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