Mainichi/Kyodo: J companies will boost hiring of NJ by 50%! Yeah, sure.


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Hi Blog. Since this past week’s theme seems to be on NJ employment issues, here we have an article (which I can’t find in any original Japanese on the Mainichi site, have a look yourself) talking about how some Japanese companies are going to add more NJ to their staff!  By up to 50%!  My my, we’ve heard that before.  Not just recently in the Asahi last April (where respondents who had been through the hiring process recently smelled tripe and onions; as did the Yomiuri April 2009).  We heard this tune back in the Bubble Years too (one of the reasons why people like me came here in the late 1980s).  We were made promises that simply were not kept.  Remains to be seen, then as now.  Just saying it will happen don’t make it so.  Feels to me like somebody’s talking up the Japanese job market.

And even if they do hire as many as they say, will they have the smarts to offer them job conditions that will keep them on board?  Or will they fall back into the hackneyed practice of assuming that job applicants should just feel grateful for the honor to work for a Japanese company?  Hah.  I think people are more informed than that nowadays.

Opinions?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Japanese firms to boost hiring of foreigners by up to 50%
(Mainichi Japan) July 6, 2010, courtesy of JK.

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Major Japanese firms are planning to boost hiring of foreign nationals by up to 50 percent of their new recruits in fiscal 2011, officials of the companies said Tuesday.

Fast Retailing Co., the operator of the popular Uniqlo casual clothing chain, major convenience store chain Lawson Inc. and Rakuten Inc., which operates the largest Internet mall in Japan, are planning to recruit foreigners mainly from Asian countries including China, Taiwan and Malaysia, according to the officials.

As they are expanding global operations especially in emerging markets in Asia amid shrinking domestic sales, the three companies are accelerating operations to hire Asian graduates in their home countries and those studying at Japanese universities.

The firms hope to promote them to company executives in the future to lead their operations in the Asian markets, the officials said.

Fast Retailing said it is planning to hire about 300 foreigners, which accounts for about 50 percent of its planned new recruits for the year starting in April next year.

The company hopes to hire people who can work on its plan to open more shops in China and those who can serve as shop managers in Malaysia and Taiwan, where it plans to open its first outlets.

President Tadashi Yanai said it will further increase the hiring rate of foreign employees in fiscal 2012, with a plan for up to two-thirds of 1,000 planned new recruits to be foreigners.

Lawson is boosting recruitment of foreign students graduating from Japanese universities. It will continue hiring about 20-30 percent of its new recruits from such students from Asian countries, it said. It has already hired 66 foreign graduates in three years from fiscal 2008, which account for 20 percent of all the new recruits.

Rakuten said it will hire 150 foreigners among 600 new recruits it plans to employ in fiscal 2011.

It has agreed with China’s top Internet search engine Baidu Inc. to form a joint venture to launch an online mall in China in the second half of this year and hopes to utilize Chinese engineers to come up with services attracting customers in the Chinese market.

Other than the three companies, Panasonic Corp. has also been boosting its employment of foreigners. In fiscal 2011, it plans to increase the number of such employees to 1,100, up by 50 percent from the previous year, the company said, adding that the figure will account for 80 percent of the whole recruitment for the year.


19 comments on “Mainichi/Kyodo: J companies will boost hiring of NJ by 50%! Yeah, sure.

  • I wouldn’t touch a Japanese company with a barge pole.
    When I came back to Japan, I went through a series of interviews with them and was invited to their office at 7pm on a Friday night to receive the job offer. The numbers on the job offer weren’t even correct or what was previously discussed, and they promised to fix it.
    All they would offer was a 1 year contract.

    Job offer from foreign company as a permanent employee followed 2 days later. Guess which one I took.

    — May we ask which Japanese company?

  • “are planning to recruit foreigners mainly from Asian countries including China, Taiwan and Malaysia, according to the officials.”

    Sounds like they are more interested in cheap labor than expanding “Global Operations”.

  • I believe the article. The title is misleading it should have been something like “A handful of J companies will boost hiring of NJ by 50%” (No need for exclamation mark in this case of course.) I have been reading a lot about Fast Retailing recently and I know that they are building their overseas outlets through expansion and acquisition. Fast Retailing is no simply Uniqlo. And because of this massive growth overseas they need foreign workers. Simple as that.

    And Lawson is hiring foreign graduates. What Japanese graduate wants to work for Lawson. It didn’t say what positions they were being hired for either. They are probably stacking shelves in the combini because other Japanese companies didn’t want to hire them.

    Rakuten, expanding into Asia. Need people who can speak Asian languages and Japanese proficiently who will work for a low wage despite being multilingual IT professionals. Can’t be easy to find Japanese who could/would fit the bill.

    Three big companies, 516 new foreign staff, probably less than half actually working in Japan.

    OK, probably a few more companies like Panasonic too will hire more foreign staff but they will also let go foreign staff and how many will actually visit Japan…

  • crustpunker says:

    I feel like that just offering a “posistion” is quite a different thing from offering a stable job.

    “Fast Retailing said it is planning to hire about 300 foreigners, which accounts for about 50 percent of its planned new recruits for the year starting in April next year.

    The company hopes to hire people who can work on its plan to open more shops in China and those who can serve as shop managers in Malaysia and Taiwan, where it plans to open its first outlets.”

    This sounds to me like they will train them here in Japan for a year or two and send them back. They aren’t really interested in fully integrating them into the work force here in country no? Am I reading this wrong?

    if so, as Johnny above mentioned the whole 1 year contract thing is not at all attractive to people looking to start a real job. [silly assertion deleted]

  • In the case of Rakuten, they have recently announced that they are planning to make English the official company language by the end of 2012, and are already taking steps to phase it in:

    So, in Rakuten’s case, I don’t doubt their intentions.

    Rakuten to make English official language inside company by end of 2012
    (Mainichi Japan) July 1, 2010
    Internet shopping giant Rakuten Inc. will make English the only “official language” among its employees by the end of 2012, as part of its global strategy.

    “Our goal is to become the No. 1 Internet service company in the world,” Rakuten President Hiroshi Mikitani said at a Tokyo press conference on June 30, where he mainly spoke in English. He first told reporters he would explain Rakuten’s future perspectives in English on the grounds that the company is currently in the middle of transitioning its in-house language to English.

    Mikitani remarked that he has decided using English as a common language is necessary for the company to grow into a global corporation.

    Rakuten has already begun requiring executives to use English at meetings and in meeting materials. Mikitani said making employees communicate in English would be needed for Rakuten to successfully expand its business operations worldwide and to hire capable employees overseas. He then hinted at the possibility of partially moving the company’s headquarters’ operations abroad if the need arises.

    According to Mikitani, Rakuten has set a goal of expanding current overseas operations in six countries and regions to 27 and increasing group sales from one trillion yen in fiscal 2009 to 20 trillion yen sometime in the future.

    Among other domestic firms, Nissan Motor Co. holds management meetings in English, and Fast Retailing Co. — the operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing chain — plans to make English its official in-house language as of March 2012.

    毎日新聞 2010年6月30日






  • In my eyes, they all disqualify themselves as being worthy of interest the moment they mention that they’re looking for fresh graduates from universities. It tells me that they’re looking to cram NJ into their standard hiring structure without really making proper accommodations. Bringing in “virgin brides” with no prior business experience is a poor way to welcome new ideas – who listens to the wet-behind-the-ears junior staff member? Indeed, it looks like they just want to hook a few promising young foreigners, inculcate them, and then use them to staff expansions abroad.

    Bottom line to me, it’s interesting to see Japanese brands and businesses looking to dominate SE Asian markets, but it doesn’t look like it bodes anything in particular for actual NJ in Japan.

  • crustpunker says:

    In response to post #5 from Joe-

    I don’t have the source for this but I recall seeing on the news (and also chatting with co-workers yesterday) that Samsung has VERY strict conditions in their hiring practices involving English ability. They also more or less try to have their employees go home at 5. The report went on to say that recently Samsung has been engaging in major headhunting and taking Japanese workers currently employed with its competitors (Sony, Hitachi, Panasonic) as well as targeting University grads with strong English skills. If anyone could find a source for this it might make for an interesting follow up. I looked but no luck

  • I remember reading similar thing some time ago and fortunately, the article was still on the net.
    A look at NJ求人sites also shows that right now there’s demand in Chinese and other Asian employees mainly. This makes sense since most companies are aiming for the Asian market and making OEMs with Asian companies where wages and materials are much cheaper. Well, business is business.Fresh university graduates also are paid less than mid-carreer experts, right? They will be exploited until they become old enough to have their wages raised, and then the company will decide they are no more needed, because the company right now has new policy, because it has some troubles, because of the political situation, etc.
    This part of the above article is especially interesting:
    “To curb costs, the carrier [ANA] is likely to employ foreign pilots and flight attendants and simplify in-flight services, they said.

    — Air-Do, the discount carrier (which I never use, see why here) servicing Haneda and Chitose, has hired NJ pilots for more than a decade for the same reason.

  • it just looks like lawsons is trying to hire more cheap labor, because i still dont see any japanese blue chip companys that are doing any hiring!! same old story, just another hollow news article.

  • I was initially excited to see the article, but saw through the dog and pony show as the article dragged on. Hiring fresh graduates (from J universities) instead of experienced mid-career professionals is not a way to internationalize, it is a way to indoctrinate motivated young workers to “the Japanese way.”

    Also, an acquaintance works at a J multi-national that has accepted English as the office language and complains that it is unneccesarily confusing as people just plug text into online translation sites and send it along. Yeech!

  • I just want to point out that one other benefit to working for a gaishike (foreign capital company) is that there is at least SOME chance of you protecting your civil rights when your job faces the inevitable chopping block by Japanese in management.

    I blogged about this last November, and had highlighted the issue sometime before that, many countries apply their country’s civil rights law to employment situations overseas.

    For example, America applies U.S. civil rights laws to situations where a “controlled” foreign subsidiary of an American parent violates one of five civil rights statutes that protect employees.

    You may be handed some flak as to what “control” means. The parent company will try to say that if the decision is not being made in the parent company, “then we have no CONTROL over what they do in Japan!!!!”, but practically, “control” simply means that the American parent owns enough of the company indirectly, and has enough involvement in setting policies, that the company functions as part of the larger whole. It is the “Tangoods” example in American EEOC regulations. A Google search would give it to you.

    I would not trust a Japanese offer of career employment. It’s tough enough trusting offers, usually by Japanese, of employment anywhere in Japan.

    Occasionally the Japanese bureaucracy throws out some pretty words for public consumption about how they’d like to internationalize their companies. But they could have done that years ago. (Like Debito said, they made similar sounds in the 1980’s.)

    Look before you leap. I am surprised America doesn’t retaliate against Japanese wanting to come to America for the way that we are treated here, but I guess that’s just not our style.

  • Peter McArthur says:

    A total non-story. There is no trend.

    When a successful business expands to the limits of its home market, the only way for it to expand is overseas, so it has to hire foreign workers. ‘Nuff said.

  • (株)飛日空 says:

    @Peter McArthur

    To expand overseas, they can hire foreign workers or do what Rakuten seems keen on doing and instead of investing in skilled foreign staff to help with integration overseas, they institute English only measures in the workplace in an effort to create multilingual domestic staff. Without having to pay for lessons either! What a deal!

    Now imagine how effective it would be if the opposite were to happen and say an American company were to suddenly institute Japanese only in the work place for the purpose of breaking into the Japanese market.

    I see they have thought this through like all of their grand plans for internationalization.

  • Considering that both Rakuten and Fast Retailing are taking English seriously, I`d give them some credit.
    About Lawson, they ALREADY are hiring a lot of foreigners, last year 30% of their new hiring was composed of NJ. ( )

    Yes everyone of them want fresh graduates, but if they`re looking at the long term, that makes a lot of sense. They don`t need NJ experienced workers here in Japan, they need those overseas. Once you have the bilingual young employees, hire some experienced NJ managers who know the target market and soon you`re ready to go.

    I`d say that if you`re from a country that has a potential market for Japanese companies, is fluent in both languages, is as competent and willing to work under the same conditions as a Japanese employee, there`s not much reason for you not to be hired.

  • “Look before you leap. I am surprised America doesn’t retaliate against Japanese wanting to come to America for the way that we are treated here, but I guess that’s just not our style.”

    The U.S. gov. takes a bow to pretty much whatever the Japanese gov ask as far as employment goes. Case in point- I once went to Hello Work and there was a position at a US facility here in Japan. The position was advertised at hello work and foriegners were acceptable. So my spirits up, we called. Guess what? Americans need not apply say the J clerk. The work was under the IHA agreement, and that agreement excludes ONLY US CITIZENS, all others may apply. Im not talking SOFA military sponsored citizens, I mean all US citizens. So another door gets closed. Even the Hello Work counsler was shaking his head on that one, he said I was the best he could find for that job and it was working with my own kind but seems my own kind had shut me out. Anyhow, On a different note, I just got back from malaysia and there were Japanese companies on every corner hiring. Problem is if you go there as a local hire even speak Japanese you get the local hire package. The trick is to get over there with an expat package. Malaysia and Singapore are booming, just watch the wages. Japan pays best, Singapore about half, malaysia about 25% of Japan and China 10.

  • Also, here is a link to jobs in malaysia, singapore etc.
    Youll find a high end monthley salary is 4000 malay ringets which equals to about ju mon yen (100, 000) so thats below or well below min wage here in Japan but middle class Im guessing there. Even 6000 ringet is only like 140 000 here. Cost of living is cheap but if you got a J wife back here could make it hard to send money back on that salary. Best deal is to get a expat package.

  • John (Yokohama) says:

    Not a perfect fit to this thread but a decent related read from the Washington Post dated July 28, 2010:

    “Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future”

    “But by 2025, Japan will need to almost double its number of nurses and care workers, currently at 1.2 million. And because of the test, substandard language skills, not substandard caretaking skills, are keeping the obvious solution from meeting the gaping need.”

  • Edward J. Cunningham says:

    Just out of curiosity—how many naturalized Japanese citizens like Debito—who consider themselves fluent—would be able to pass this language test? (I’m referring to the test mentioned in The Washington Post for nurses that Japan has to import from the Phillipines.)

    — It’s easy. You have to have shougakkou 3-nensei (a third-grader in elementary school) level of Japanese for citizenship. I wasn’t even formally tested. They said that my level was just fine based upon observation in meetings alone. It’s nothing like the test for nurses. We’re not practicing medicine or health care.


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