【Jobs for Foreign Software Engineers】Characteristics of the Japanese IT Industry

Some international job seekers may consider working as an software engineer in Japan. In this article, we will introduce several characteristics of the Japanese IT industry. If you are interested in this industry, please feel free to use the following information in this article as a personal reference.

  1. Characteristics of the Japanese IT industry
    1. Market size
    2. User and vendor structures
    3. Talent shortage
    4. Team culture
    5. Those without expertise can become an engineer
  2. Summary

1. Characteristics of the Japanese IT industry

Market size

The IT industry is an industry that uses the internet to provide information services. The market size of the IT industry in the private sector (which includes hardware, software, and service companies) is expected to increase year-on-year by 0.1% to 12.9 trillion yen in 2020, by 4.3% to 12.35 trillion yen in 2021, and by 0.4% to 12.4 trillion yen in 2022. Due to the spread of COVID-19, the implementation of telework has accelerated. To maintain telework-friendly work environments, business investments such as laptops and web conferencing tools have increased. Investment in the IT industry is expected to continue to grow as workstyles diversify amid the coronavirus pandemic.


Furthermore, the Japanese government is promoting the establishment of a new digital agency. This effort is in response to problems related to the grasp on active COVID-19 cases and the distribution of cash handouts—issues that were caused by delays in the government’s digital response. Through growing investments from both private and government sectors, demand for IT industry services will surely expand. Continued growth of the IT industry is anticipated as large-scale company systems are updated or publicly released, efforts utilizing 5G and data spread, and needs for security measures increase.

User and vendor structures

A large share of Japanese IT companies are vendors that perform outsourced work. Companies that target western users generally launch development projects in-house, hire their own engineers, and develop their own systems. Conversely, companies targeting Japanese users outsource most of their system production operations to vendor companies. As a result, approximately 70% of tech engineers working in Japan belong to vendor companies.

Talent shortage

Japan has a shortage of tech engineers caused by a decline in the working population and a rapid increase in the demand for IT services. If this rising demand continues, talent shortages will increase and hiring competitions will intensify. Within such a situation, a growing number of Japanese companies in recent years have bolstered efforts in recruiting foreign engineers. These companies are interested in foreign engineers because they anticipate that the engineers will be highly skilled, provide ideas for future overseas expansion or services tailored to overseas customers, and help globalize the work environment.

Team culture

System development projects are often worked on in teams, so team communication is vital. As communication is necessary for many situations such as progress reporting, task consultation, or system pre-release meetings, those who work well in teams are sought after in the IT industry. Additionally, a culture that values hierarchical relationships still exists in Japan. As a result, some teams may have pre-existing expectations for superiors or senior colleagues to develop and take care of their juniors and for newer members to learn from their seniors.

Those without expertise can become an engineer

In Japan, many companies proactively recruit even the inexperienced in engineering. Instead of taking interest in one’s previous experience, companies evaluate whether an applicant has the curiosity for the technology they will use in the future or has the ability to take action to solve problems. Companies assess in this way to predict how successful one will be in the future and because an emphasis is placed on how much one will contribute to the company. Japanese companies seek talent who can perform schedule or task management and can see the user’s perspective. Additionally, these companies value maintaining client relations and teamwork, so they seek those who have a handle on basic business etiquette. Those who are inexperienced can also aim to work in Japan as an engineer by showing a learner’s attitude towards IT topics and expressing a desire to grow and work as an engineer.

2. Summary

While the Japanese IT industry is expected to grow, it also faces severe labor shortages. Companies are actively hiring inexperienced workers who display future potential in addition to experienced talent who are work-ready. Those aiming to work as an tech engineer in Japan should first collect information on the Japanese IT industry and Japanese company workstyles before submitting applications.

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