The labour market in Japan


There are many different job sectors, industries and companies in Japan and as such the labour market is quite broad, if you are Japanese or can speak near fluent Japanese. For foreign nationals and, in particular, those who do not have a high level of Japanese, the market is much more restrictive with only a few fields that are readily hiring foreigners.

Various sectors

There are many sectors of work available, but for foreign nationals the main sectors are education/language industries, tourism and entertainment.

The most popular sector is education, and, more specifically, teaching English. Japan has a great need for native English speakers in its educational institutions in a bid to improve the country’s overall English ability. Whilst English teaching is the most popular source of employment there are also opportunities to teach other foreign languages, with French, Korean, Mandarin, German and Spanish all being popular languages to learn in Japan.

The language industries such as translation and interpretation are also prominent in Japan, especially when it comes to foreign business and trade. Translation and interpretation does however require good knowledge of Japanese and at least one other language (which could be your native language).

As stated before there are other sectors within the Japanese labour market but for a foreign national to find work in them they must be highly qualified, have specialised or advanced skills, have some experience in the field, and posess a high level of Japanese.

Foreign nationals are also required to have a work visa, working holiday visa or permanent residence visa in order to work in Japan.


As with any country wages in Japan vary depending on the line of work you are in and your position within your workplace. Most companies set a fixed amount based on position and wage increases are subject to promotions/increase in responsibilities. Some companies also offer bonuses. There is no minimum wage as such in Japan but instead a set daily minimum wage for each different type of work.

It is also the custom in Japan for your workplace to pay your transportation fees to and from work. Most companies will have a limited amount that they will reimburse, however, unless you are living exceptionally far from your workplace, in which case this amount should cover all of the costs.

 Good to know:

Note that many Japanese companies also deduct things like income tax, residence tax and social/employee’s insurance automatically from your wage.

Work expectations

Japan is renowned for having a high work ethic and its population being particularly hard workers (sometimes even thought of as working too hard). The legal working week time in Japan is 40 hours, however in most situations Japanese workers are expected to stay later or perform overtime, often without extra pay. In some work places, especially Japanese companies, workers are expected to wait until their boss has left before they can leave too. Many Japanese workers, and again particularly those who work in companies or businesses, have to take several business trips a year, be it domestically or internationally.

Another expectation is to take part in work social activities, such as going out for drinks or dinner with your boss and co-workers after lunch, or weekend trips.

 Useful Links:

Japanese Ministry of Labour

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Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
1 Comment
3 years ago

What sorts of jobs are available if we don't have a good grasp of Japanese and not from English speaking country ?


See also

Japan has a lot to offer expats. If you are trying to find a job in the country, knowledge of local customs and some Japanese will certainly be helpful.
As a leading global city, Tokyo has many job opportunities for expats, particularly in the hi-tech, finance and service sectors.
Yokohama, capital city of the Kanagawa Prefecture, is a maritime region. Its economy is centred on its port, which has job opportunities for expats.
Fukuoka is an important harbour city in Japan and the economic centre of Kyushu Island. Expats can find jobs in manufacturing, services and high tech.
Located on Honshu Island, Shizuoka's economy is based on manufacturing and agriculture. Expats may have difficulty finding a job in Shizuoka.

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