The advantages and disadvantages of working at different types of companies

When you get a job in Japan, your career path and working style will very much depend on what type of company it is.

Here we look into the advantages and disadvantages of working at different types of companies, dividing them into four categories.

We hope you can use the following as a reference if you are an international student considering to work in Japan.

Good and bad points of each type of company

We have laid out four different types of company that you’ll come across when looking for a job in Japan.

  1. Major Japanese companies
  2. Small and medium-sized enterprises
  3. Foreign-affiliated firms
  4. Startups

Major Japanese companies

Major Japanese companies, such as listed in the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, tend to be the most popular workplace for international students. Many of them are keen to hire global talent who can work as a bridge between domestic and overseas matters as they expand their business overseas. Below are some good and bad points about working at a major Japanese company.

Advantages Disadvantages
– A higher salary.
– A lot of career choices in the company.
– Good educational and training opportunities.
– A long period of educational and training programs.
– A long time until you’re in a role where you can make real decisions.
– Frequent transfers to different departments.

Small and medium-sized enterprises

There are a lot of small and medium-sized enterprises in Japan which often have the top share in niche fields. These companies usually have less staff but more than often require high technical skills from their employees. Recently, many of these kinds of companies have been trying to employ more international students, particularly in the manufacture industry, where there is currently a serious shortage of talented people. Below are some good and bad points about working at a medium to small sized Japanese company.

Advantages Disadvantages
– Family atmosphere in the workplace.
– Able to be in a decision-making role from early on.
– Able to sharpen up your expertise and skills in a particular field.
– Not enough educational and training opportunities.
– Not so many different career choices in the company.
– A lower salary.

Foreign-affiliated firms

Foreign-affiliated firms in Japan like to employ bilingual or multilingual global talent. Places such as US and European investment banks, consulting firms, and IT companies are popular workplaces for international students who graduated from top universities in Japan. Below are some good and bad points about working at a foreign-affiliated firm in Japan.

Advantages Disadvantages
– A faster track to promotion and a higher salary based on meritocracy.
– Able to voice your own opinion and make decisions at an earlier stage.
– The possibility of transferring to overseas branches.
– Easier to get fired.
– Continual risk that the Japanese branch could be closed down.


An increasing number of entrepreneurs are managing to draw investments from venture capitals and are starting their own businesses. Such startups are inclined to hire global talent for international business development. Below are some good and bad points about working at a startup in Japan.

Advantages Disadvantages
– Easier to get promoted and a higher salary based on meritocracy.
– A voice at the table and decision-making powers from very early on.
– The possibility of a big career advancement if and when the company grows.
– Unstable employment.
– Risk of startup going under at any time.
– A lower salary.


It is hard to say which type of company is the best as each has different advantages and disadvantages. The most important thing is to be able to work for a company which fits both your values and your desired working style. A major Japanese company could be a better choice for those who prefer having steady progress in a safe environment, while a foreign-affiliated firm or startup may be more suitable for those who want to challenge themselves in their job.

The first company you work for after graduation can have a large impact on the way you value work for the rest of your career, so you should consider each of the different categories of companies mentioned, and weigh up their advantages and disadvantages carefully when choosing the right company for you.

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