Is it difficult for foreigner students to find employment in Japan?

  • VISA
  • WORK
  • In order to expand the acceptance of foreign workers, the Government of Japan aims to create a new status of residence (For details, please see the link below↓).
    Japan Info Website Visa Article
    On the other hand, the Japanese government also wants to promote the acceptance of foreigner nationals with high qualifications and advanced foreign talent(skills and knowledge).

    What is Advanced Foreign Talent?


    When we say “advanced foreign talent” we get the image of a foreigner who graduates from a university in Japan or abroad and engages in fields such as research, engineering, businesses in charge of overseas expansion etc. in Japanese companies;


    How many foreign students graduate and how many students are getting employed in Japan?

    flat type school girl White_emotion

    The number of Japanese foreign students getting employed in Japan has increased year by year. The number was 14,493 in 2016. That means about 31% of the 46,559 people that graduated. Among approximately 70% of the students that studied in Japan, a high percent thinks it`s wasteful to return to their home country and get a job somewhere else other than Japan. Therefore, the number of graduates who wish to get a job in Japan is about 63.6% of the total number of students, one from two succeeding in doing that.

    The table below shows the number of graduates and the domestic employment`s changes occurred during the 2009 -2016 period. Although the number of people employed along with the rate have steadily increased every year, the Japanese government aims to raise the domestic employment rate from 30% to 50%.

    Number of graduates / graduates completed in Japan Number of employed people in Japan Domestic employment rate:


    Author’s photo

    Jasso Statistics Website

    Now, it doesn`t matter how much the Japanese government tries to, it is a fact that various problems are present. Also, increasing the domestic employment to 50% is easier said than done.

    So, where does the problem lay?

    The following is a questionnaire aimed to foreign students.
    The list below is a survey regarding the “Main issues in job hunting activities” from the students` point of view:

    1. There are few job offers for foreign students (38.5%)

    2. Not knowing the system of job hunting activities in Japan (33.8%)

    3. The tests of Employment Aptitude for Foreign Nationals and the Japanese exams are too difficult (32.2%)

    4. The Industry /corporate researches ‘methods are hard to understand (29.0%)

    5. Interviews in Japanese are too difficult (25.5%)

    6. It is unclear what kind of skills the companies are seeking (24.8%)

    7. The job content after entering company is unclear (22.7%)

    8. I do not know how to write documents in Japanese (19.8%)

    Number 1


    Recently among Japanese companies, there have been voices saying that “Students from Japan who come to the companies` recruitment Conventions are steadily decreasing”, there are many people that believe is necessary to recruit and hire foreigners as well as Japanese citizens, therefore the number ① situation will be most likely improve sooner or later.

    Numbers 2 and 7

    Worldwide business concept. Silhouettes of business persons.

    These two are problems quite difficult to understand because of Japan`s cultural background and old customs; the employment and working methods in Japan are considered to be quite unique so it might be difficult to be comprehended by foreigners. In a Japanese company, you won`t find out what kind of department you`ll be working for right away. After a few months of work and training in several departments, you will be relocated and informed of your new department and proceed with the relocating after you have given your approval. In Japan, is said that this is an important process towards your growth as a so-called “specialist generalist”; a complicated custom hard to understand by foreigners that is in strong correlation with number 6.

    The language barrier


    For the remaining ones, the issue is the language itself!

    Is quite a well-known fact that Japanese citizens are not so good at foreign languages, regardless of their status or positions, most people can only speak Japanese.
    As a result, if a foreigner cannot speak Japanese at all, he/she most probably won`t get the job. Therefore, in the evaluation, the exams and competence tests are in Japanese, same goes with the interview and documents such as contracts etc. As a result, there may be many companies that would hire someone who knows Japanese regardless of their knowledge and studies rather than a person who can`t speak Japanese but has proper education and excellent recommendations. I know what you are thinking: That`s not too fair, is it?

    ..unfortunately, this is the world we live in and we must accept it as a reality.

    Too early to give up! Seek improvement!


    There is one good side of the story, though. The improvement of job hunting among foreigner students is desired by the government and Japanese companies, so here is what you should try to improve if you`re aiming for a job in Japan:

    • Japanese language skills (38.9%)
    • Understanding of the Japanese companies` work system(36.9%)
    • Industry /corporate research (17.7%)

    Again, there is quite a gap between foreign students and companies when it comes to the Japanese language skills and understanding of Japan`s unique work customs.
    The Japan Info Group (link below) also introduces jobs aimed to foreigners, but many companies are mainly targeting foreigners who can speak Japanese. There are rare cases where Japanese is not needed, but usually, a basic understanding of the language is required.

    Find a job in Japan Website

    However, giving up because of your Japanese skill or because is hard understanding the culture isn`t an option. Consider giving it a try before saying we can`t do it.
    Here is a survey on Japanese companies who employed foreign students that shows why the companies want international work force:

  • To raise the diversity within the company and revitalize the workplace (55.8%)
  • International students were hired regardless of nationality after a fair selection of the staff (55.8%)
  • In order to cultivate and expand overseas business regardless of the students` home countries (44.7%)
  • To acquire human resources with professional skills and knowledge so we can advance the company`s projects (28.1%)
  • To cultivate and expand overseas business to international students’ homeland (23.1%)
  • As you can see, the above reasons are quite positive, and they mainly want to promote overseas development; there`s also no discriminating and most of the companies hire people based on their abilities and expertise regardless of their nationality.

    So, sounds like a pretty good deal, right?

    Now that we saw the companies` perspectives, let`s have a look at what foreign student who managed to find a job in Japan and see why they chose a Japanese company:

    ① The desire to work in the overseas departments of Japanese companies (45.3%)

    ② Because Japanese companies have high technical capabilities (41.4%)

    ③ Simply, because I want to work with Japanese citizens (30.0%)

    This also brings to our attention a very bright student that declared the following:
    -I am a student who studies hard in Japanese, learns technology at a Japanese company and wishes to play an active part in his home country in the future.

    Hiring such bright students can only result in a Win / Win relationship.


    The domestic employment rate of foreign students targeted by the government is 50 % and hopefully it will soon reach the target.
    Stay with us for more updates on the latest information about Japan, jobs and visas.

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