Alright, so you’re thinking about working as a software engineer in Japan. With a large demand for workers in Japan’s tech industry, many types of employment are possible, such as working as a freelancer, temp staff, or full-time employee. Full-time employment is certainly the most common approach, and in this article, we’ll look at some of the advantages involved with this arrangement.
Easy to Find Work
First and foremost, it’s a job seeker’s market. As we mentioned in a previous article, the combination of an aging population, decreasing birthrate, and rising demand among tech services means there are simply more tech jobs available in Japan then there are candidates to fill them.
In 2019, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry published a report (Japanese only) on the shortage of IT personnel. Based on data compiled by the Mizuho Information & Research Institute, they found that there was already a shortage of more than 200,000 IT personnel that year.
Moreover, the personnel gap is expected to widen each year, growing to about 410,000 (optimistic) to about 790,000 (pessimistic) by 2030. From programmers and web developers to AI or security specialists, the demand for foreign tech engineers is increasing all the time.
Undoubtedly, a significant advantage to working full-time in Japan is being able to enjoy a relatively high degree of job stability. Traditionally, employees in Japan were given lifetime employment, starting jobs just after graduation from university and continuing on at the same organization until retirement.
This practice still persists today, though changing jobs has become more accepted. Strong demand in the IT sector in particular has made changing jobs quite commonplace. Most notably, it’s usually the employee that makes the decision to change jobs, instead of being fired or laid off.
Culturally speaking, companies in Japan are reluctant to suddenly terminate employees, given the impact that has on society. Therefore, as a full-time software engineer, you can relax knowing that, more than likely, you will not be fired simply because company performance is down for a particular quarter or even year.
Perhaps you would like to eventually work as a freelancer or even start your own IT business someday. Working as a full-time employee in Japan first can help you build crucial experience. Japanese companies are keen on developing employee education and promote on-the-job training, or OJT, so gaining some solid experience first is a great way to gain key knowledge and exposure to the market in Japan.
Particularly if you intend to work long-term in Japan, having experience in a Japanese company will benefit you in numerous ways. People will appreciate the fact that you understand Japanese business culture, for example, and will feel more comfortable working with you. Past work experience within Japan can open doors more than experience outside Japan, particularly if you didn’t happen to work for a well-known multinational organization.
Compared to other forms of employment such as working as an independent contractor or a freelancer, being a full-time employee in Japan can be much more fulfilling socially. The nature of work within a Japanese company is very much a team affair, with employees traditionally sitting next to each other and in workgroups. Meetings are regularly held to communicate and coordinate action. Even when telecommuting you’ll probably find that communication among your group is quite active.
Moreover, socializing with colleagues after work is also a very common practice. This is known colloquially as “nomunication,” a slang term combining the words “nomu” (to drink) with “communication.” Committed to their duties during work hours, employees in Japan go out for drinks or food afterwards and use this time to blow off steam or just relax.
If you have not been in Japan long or perhaps have relocated to an unfamiliar area and haven’t built up your social base yet, getting to know your coworkers and socializing with them could be a great way to adjust to your new environment.
Salary is also a key advantage of full-time jobs in the tech industry, which tend to be some of the highest paid in Japan. According to a 2019 survey from recruitment firm Robert Walters, salaries for experienced engineers range between 6 million to 15 million yen per year.
While your specific salary could be lower than in tech hot spots in the US or other countries, remuneration in that range is sufficient for the cost of living in Japan’s larger cities (and even lucrative if you’re in a slightly more suburban area). With more discretionary income available, you may even be able to send money back to your home country.
Japanese companies take good care of their full-time employees. Exact benefits will vary depending on the company, but at the very least you can generally expect medical insurance to be covered. Japan’s healthcare system is among the best in the world, so full insurance coverage is reassuring.
Another common benefit is an allowance to cover your commuting expenses, while some companies even offer housing allowances, as well as perks such as recreational facilities or special discounts. In your job search, be sure to inquire about what benefits besides salary might be available.
Improve Your Japanese
Last but not least, being a full-time employee working in a Japanese office environment can really do wonders for your Japanese skills. This experience is particularly useful for learning and navigating business Japanese, with its varying levels of politeness and commonly used phrases.
Regardless of whether you are completely new to the Japanese language or you already have some ability, being around Japanese coworkers, and using Japanese with them either to talk, email or chat is a great way to practice your written language skills. Your reading ability may also improve through exposure to Japanese manuals or other technical documents.
While not without its challenges, full-time employment in Japan offers excitement and stimulation that you may not experience in your home country. Companies in Japan are working on fascinating projects and you’ll meet some extraordinary people in the tech sector here. Every day will bring new discoveries and help you grow as an individual, and the very experience of understanding and adapting to a foreign culture can only be a valuable asset in our ever more globalized world.
https://www.meti.go.jp/policy/it_policy/jinzai/houkokusyo.pdf (Japanese only)
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Jobs for Foreign Software Engineers
Japan’s IT Industry
- Characteristics of the Japanese IT Industry
- Japanese Language Levels for IT Industry Jobs
- The Benefits of Working at a Tech Company
- The Disadvantages of Working at a Tech Company
Salaries for Software Engineers
Visa for Software Engineers