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Excerpted from the Japan Career Guide

General Trends

Japan’s industrialized, free market economy is the world’s fourth-largest after having been edged out of third place by India last year. The government is working to address major economic challenges, including the country's large government debt, which is more than 200 percent of GDP, the yen’s persistent deflation, dependence on exports, and an aging and shrinking population.

Areas of Job Promise

Employers in Japan report shortages of talent could hamper their business. Some of the worst shortages persist in engineering, sales and IT. Many new opportunities are emerging in Japan’s burgeoning health care and pharmaceutical sector. And pockets of shortages remain in accounting and finance.

Skills Shortages

Language skills needed

Candidates with multilingual skills are needed everywhere. While the need may be greatest for those in overseas sales and marketing, call centers and telecommunications support, fluency in foreign languages, especially English, is also needed in finance, engineering, supply chain, HR, IT, legal, health care and life sciences, and office support.

Bilingual skills are becoming a standard requirement, but the language need varies. IT consulting businesses tend to require English more than Japanese, according to recruiting firm Hays. Some banks are seeking expatriate candidates who are fluent in Japanese. But there are not enough bilingual financial planning and analysis professionals with good English and communication skills to meet demand.


Salaries have remained stable in Japan, and have not kept up with the skill shortages that exist. Last year raises in Japan averaged less than 3 percent, and employees can expect more of the same this year as employers continue to seek to control costs. However, employers are expecting to pay bonuses and offer benefits such as life insurance.

This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Japan Guide.

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