Old friend Michael Engel, who works for a Japanese chemical company, emailed to tell me that help is available, the form of a discussion group on Yahoo! for foreign researchers presently in Japan, who have been in Japan or are planning to come, or who have otherwise contact with Japan.
The list is called kenkyusha (meaning researcher) and can be accessed here.
Scientific organizations in Japan and around the world are encouraged to post information about
bilateral research and/or exchange programs, scholarships, research programs in general, and other relevant information for international researchers in Japan. The list operates in English, but Japanese speakers can post in Japanese if they like but with an English preface to their post.
The site was set up on June 27 and at the time of writing has 16 members and rising.