Japan Data

Foreign Workers in Japan Find Steady Employment a Boon, Seniority System a Drawback

Work Society

In a survey of foreign employees at companies in Japan, steady employment was seen as the main benefit.

Originator, an employment company helping foreign students find jobs in Japan through its information website Ryūkatsu, recently conducted a survey targeting its registered members employed at companies in Japan. Respondents were asked about the merits of working in Japan, with multiple responses possible, and the majority, at 54.0%, answered “steady employment.” This was more than double the response for the second most mentioned benefit of being “able to do the work you want” at 25.8%. With the outlook for the global economy still uncertain, it seems that long-term employment, prevalent among Japanese companies, holds appeal for foreign employees.

Merits of Working in Japan

The top response for factors they found disappointing working in Japan was that the “wage level is not high”, with 51.6%. This was followed by 30.6% feeling there was “insufficient consideration for not being a native Japanese speaker,” 29.0% who said “foreigners cannot receive a pay rise or promotion,” and 27.4% who felt there was “too much overtime.”

The results show that in order to retain foreign employees in the workplace and allow them to flourish, there needs to be a change in mindset among Japanese employees and revisions to personnel evaluation systems and workstyles.

Disappointing Factors Working in Japan

Asked about measures they would like to see implemented so that they could continue working in Japan, at 54.8%, more than half of respondents wanted a system that would allow them to take consecutive leave to visit their home country or so that they could work remotely from there. Other highly desired measures included “objective performance evaluation (based on work performance)” (41.9%) and “support for acquiring qualifications” (39.5%).

The most common reasons that foreign employees gave for finding it difficult to improve their skills and be promoted were “foreigners are not given opportunities to be promoted” and “seniority is prioritized over ability”. Many of the open responses in the survey called for revision of the personnel evaluation system. Examples included “I want promotions to change from being based on seniority to being based on competency” and “the evaluation of foreign employees needs to be improved as there is a language barrier, and if they are evaluated using the same criteria, there is no possibility of a pay rise.”

Measures that Would Encourage Foreign Workers to Remain at Japanese Companies

Reason for Feeling Promotion and Improving Skills Are Difficult in a Japanese Company

The survey, conducted in February 2023 in Japanese and English, targeted foreign employees who were or had been working in Japan. Valid responses were received from 124 people.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

foreign workers employment system