Jobs & Careers in Japan

Employment in Japan

Employment Environment in Japan

Job Market for Recent Graduates

The job market that recent graduates of universities and colleges enter when they first start working is called the “new graduates market” in Japan.

Figure 1 indicates the employment rate of those recent graduates during the last 10 years.

Employment in Japan has consistently been over 90% during the period, indicating the steady job situation in Japan. During the 2019-2020 academic year, the rate reached 97.8%, which means nearly all the students were able to get a job upon graduation.

Figure 1 Average employment rate of Japanese university and college graduates in the past 10 years

Figure 1

Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare "Survey of Employment on University and Colleges Graduates,” 2018

First Salary

First salary or “Shoninkyu 初任給” means the first monthly salary recent graduates from university or graduate schools receive from their employer. Figure 2 shows the average amounts in Japan. They range from approximately 200,000 yen for university graduates and nearly 230,000 yen for those who graduated from graduate school. Humanities courses are referred to as “Jimukei 事務系” or clerical, and science courses are referred to as “Gijutsukei 技術系” or technical.

Figure 2 Average amount of the first monthly salary in each academic qualification

Figure 2

National Personnel Authority (NPA) The survey result of salary in each job (2019)

Average Salary by Age

Figure 3 shows the average annual salary by age. Each bar indicates the average annual salary by age groups and sex, respectively. The annual salary for men reaches a peak of 6,860,000 yen at the 55-59 age group, then gradually declines. For women, it levels off after the 25-29 age group. This is because of the general trend that more women choose to work part-time rather than full-time after marriage and childbirth.

Figure 3 Average salary of private companies by age

Figure 3

National Tax Agency (NTA) “Statistical survey of private sector salaries in 2018”

Job Situation for International Students

Number of International Student Employed

As of May 1, 2019, the number of international students in Japan reached about 310,000 - more than double the number 10 years ago.

On the other hand, the number of international students finding employment in Japan over the past 10 years has increased from 9,584 in 2009 to 25,942 in 2018, a 2.7-fold increase over the past 10 years, after once falling due to the Lehman Brothers crisis. However, finding a job in Japan is not as easy as it is for Japanese students.

Figure 4 Number of international students graduating and working

Figure 4

Ministry of Justice, Immigration Bureau “The Employment of Foreign Students in Japanese Companies 2018”

Size of Employer for International Students

As for how many international students are employed by companies of any size, 13.9% of students are employed by companies with 2,000 or more employees. Most students' initial jobs after graduation were at companies with fewer than 50 employees.

Japanese small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not only play the role of subcontractors to large corporations. There are many successful smaller companies which hold the world's highest-ranking technologies or the number one market share in a certain market. Researching not only the size of the company, but also the company's business activities, can broaden your employment opportunities. Furthermore, the first paycheck at big companies and smaller size companies are both about 200,000 yen, only differing slightly.

Figure 5 Scale of employees in companies

Figure 5

Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice “Employment of International Students in Japanese Companies in 2018”

Industries Employing International Students

Figure 6 shows a breakdown of the above-mentioned companies by industry. Just under 20% of international students started their career with manufacturing companies, while over 80% decided to work for non-manufacturing companies.

The trading industry tops the list, closely followed by computer-related services, with the food industry coming in third, and education in fourth.

Figure 6 Industries of employment

Figure 6

Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice “Employment of International Students in Japanese Companies in 2018”

To Chapter 2. Job Hunting in Japan

(Supervised by Manabu Kubota, Visiting Researcher of JASSO)


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