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There will always be exceptions to every rule, and I also know of people that only have BAs but they have lived in Japan for over 20 years when an MA was not needed. Having worked at university for the last 14 years and jumped through the interview hoops in the last few years a MAJORITY will ask for a Masters degree. You may get one or two that will accept a BA e.g. junior colleges or they need a teacher in a hurry.
Virtually all of my colleagues at university have Masters degrees. Perhaps you want to tell me where those schools are and how long those teachers have been in Japan?
I can also show you job websites where in every single ad the university asks for at least a Masters degree and publications. A few even ask for phDs and a majority also ask for Japanese ability. I dont know where your friends look for jobs in Japan but the only sites I know of are the JALT Jobs page and the JRECIN website.
Anyway, would you say being underqualified is something to be proud of?