Explains the differences between foreign-affiliated companies and Japanese-affiliated companies with charts and graphs! Required Skills and Characteristics of Suitable People!


  • Industry Information

Are you thinking of changing jobs to a foreign-capitalized company just because of the image of “high salary” and “fair evaluation of your abilities”? There are many differences between foreign-affiliated companies and Japanese-affiliated companies, such as benefits and training programs.

In this issue, we will explain the differences between foreign-affiliated companies and Japanese-affiliated companies. Please understand the differences between foreign-affiliated and Japanese-affiliated companies so that you will not find yourself saying, “This is not what I imagined! Please be sure to understand the differences before you start your job search to prevent yourself from being disappointed.


What is a Foreign Company?

There is no clear definition of the term “foreign-owned company. Basically, it refers to a company that is made up of foreign investors and corporations, and can be broadly divided into the following three types.

Foreign companies enter Japan and establish a companyGoogle, Microsoft Japan, etc.
Establishment of a company jointly owned by an overseas company and a Japanese companySumitomo 3M, Fuji Xerox, etc.
Foreign Companies Acquire Japanese CompaniesSeiyu, Sharp, etc.

Differences between foreign-affiliated and Japanese-affiliated companies

Language is not the only difference between a foreign company and a Japanese company. There are six other major differences


 foreign company Japanese company
Differences in the way we workrespect the autonomy of othersFollow your supervisor and manuals
Difference in employment statusjob-type employmentMembership type employment
Differences in corporate culture and evaluation systemresultismSeniority and lifetime employment
Difference in salary structureJob salary, annual salary, and incentivesJob and monthly salary
Differences in BenefitsIn many cases, included in annual salary.Housing allowance and other benefits
Differences in human liquiditytempestuousRelatively stable

It is important to understand these differences when considering a career change to a foreign company.


Differences in the way we work


foreign company Japanese company
  • Tendency to focus on the individual.
  • If you don't work independently, you don't have a job
  • Tendency to emphasize organization
  • Teamwork is valued and work is carried out in accordance with supervisor's instructions and manuals

In many cases, work at Japanese-affiliated companies tends to be well organized, with instructions from superiors and guidance from senior staff, and manuals.
On the other hand, in foreign-affiliated companies, you need to think for yourself, and if you don't understand something, you need to be willing to work independently by asking questions or consulting with others.

Differences in the way we work


foreign company Japanese company

  • Employment with clear job descriptions and required skills
  • Basically, no transfers to other departments or offices
  • Hiring people who match the job description

  • Hired without clarification of job duties and work location
  • Workers are transferred to different departments to engage in duties entrusted to them by the company
  • Hiring people who match the company

Japanese-affiliated companies may transfer or change positions depending on employees' aptitude and internal circumstances after they join the company, so in some cases, employees may experience positions that they have not yet had experience with.
In contrast, foreign-affiliated companies hire people with specialized skills in specific fields, so it is rare to change job titles within a company.

Differences in corporate culture and evaluation system


foreign company Japanese company

  • Many companies use a “performance-based” approach, whereby work performance is evaluated through interviews held several times a year.

  • Many companies offer “lifetime employment” and stable employment.
  • Many companies promote and pay raises based on seniority.

Japanese-affiliated companies are characterized by “seniority” and “lifetime employment,” and many employees work for the same company for a long time. Therefore, they provide a solid training environment for new employees.

On the other hand, foreign-affiliated companies tend to be “performance-based” and pay according to ability, so they do not have a good training system for new employees. In some cases, if you don't understand something, you may not be able to get help unless you ask for it yourself.


Difference in salary structure


foreign company Japanese company

  • In many cases, the annual salary is determined by the degree of difficulty and performance of the job.
  • Some companies offer “incentive” packages.

  • Relatively equal pay on a “pay-monthly basis.”

Japanese-affiliated companies mainly use a “job-based salary” system, in which salary is determined by “grade” earned through promotion and “rank” earned through years of service and evaluation.
In foreign-affiliated companies, where “salary for work” is more common, individual performance is reflected in salary as an annual salary or incentive. Therefore, you must demonstrate your personal achievements in a logical and positive manner.


Differences in Benefits


foreign company Japanese company

  • Not much in the way of separate subsidies or benefits, such as no retirement benefits for a higher annual salary.

  • Full housing allowance, family allowance, company housing, etc.

Many Japanese companies offer generous benefits packages, whereas foreign-capital companies do not offer such benefits. Although the salary may seem better at foreign-affiliated firms, Japanese-affiliated firms also have advantages when benefits are included.
It is best to avoid choosing a foreign-affiliated company based solely on salary.


Differences in human liquidity


foreign company Japanese company

  • Job changes are commonplace
  • Personnel adjustments are also possible.

  • Long tenure in comparative firms due to “lifetime employment” characteristics
  • Rarely forced to retire or terminate their employment due to unfair dismissal

Japanese-affiliated companies operate in accordance with the Labor Standards Act, so there are few cases of unfair dismissal or pressure to resign.

On the other hand, foreign-affiliated companies are meritocratic, and there are cases of dismissal for failure to produce results. In addition, if there is a workplace where one's skills and knowledge can be put to better use, many people change jobs as a matter of course, and the movement of people is very active. Because changing jobs is commonplace in this culture, the number of times a person has changed jobs is not a concern.


Advantages of Foreign Companies

  • There are six advantages to working for a foreign company
    Depending on your ability, you can aim for a high annual salary.
  • You can work in a lean and efficient way.
  • Easy to take vacations
  • A rich environment for cross-cultural communication

Let's take a look at them in detail.

Aim for a high annual salary depending on your ability

Many foreign companies have incentive programs, so depending on your ability, you can earn a high income even at a young age.

Incentives are not related to position. Even if you do not hold a position, you can be paid the same amount as the position you hold depending on your performance.

When your efforts are visibly recognized in the form of salary, you will feel satisfied and naturally motivated.


A lean, efficiency-oriented work style

Decision-making tends to be quicker at foreign-capital companies. Foreign-affiliated companies allow a certain amount of discretion to each individual, so if you can logically explain the situation to your direct supervisor via e-mail or in a meeting, he or she will give you the go-ahead right away.

On the other hand, at Japanese-affiliated companies, the decision tends to be postponed due to adjustments such as preparing materials, for example, “Let's discuss it at the next week's meeting.

For those who seek efficiency in their work, foreign-affiliated companies are a stress-free place to work.


Easy to take a vacation

Another advantage of foreign-affiliated companies is the ease of taking paid vacations and long vacations. Because work is left to each individual, it is easy to adjust schedules and work around one's own vacations. As a result, one in four employees at foreign-affiliated companies take 15 or more vacation days per year. As is the case at Japanese-affiliated companies, there are only a few people who “can't take time off because others around them don't take time off.

Also, not taking time off may be evaluated by superiors as “inefficient at work and not taking time off.

Since the “on” and “off” times are clearly defined, there tends to be a high level of satisfaction with the work-life balance of each individual.


Rich environment for cross-cultural communication

Foreign-affiliated companies have employees from many different countries and regions. The environment is rich in opportunities to experience different cultures and to naturally develop a global mindset, including an acceptance of diversity.

There are abundant opportunities to use foreign languages in our work. The more often you use a language, the more your language skills will improve. Many people feel that their language skills have improved compared to before they joined the company.


Disadvantages of Foreign Companies

While there are advantages to foreign-owned companies, there are also three disadvantages.

  • Evaluation is dry
  • The corporate culture and culture may not fit with the company and you may find it difficult to work
  • There is a risk of withdrawal


Evaluation is dry

In other words, if you do not produce results, it is difficult to get a pay raise or promotion, no matter how many years you have worked for the company. In some companies, if you do not produce results, you may be restructured or left behind.

Some people may feel pressured in an environment where process is not considered important, and where they are not evaluated unless they constantly produce results. Employment stability is not high.


May find it difficult to work with a company that does not fit their corporate culture

If you are accustomed to working for a Japanese company, you may find it difficult to work in the corporate culture of a foreign company or in a foreign culture. In some cases, the unique Japanese culture of reading the atmosphere may not be understood, and communication may be difficult.

In addition, some countries have a loose concept of time, and many Japanese who are strict about meeting deadlines find it difficult and stressful to work there.


There is a risk of withdrawal

For an overseas headquarters, a company in Japan is just one of its “branch offices. If the company decides that the cost is not worth it or the results are not good enough, it may withdraw from the market.

Unlike Japanese companies, foreign companies tend to hire people for their positions. It is rare for a person to be transferred to another company just because a position is no longer available, and the possibility of losing one's job is high.

Advantages of Japanese Companies

  • While it is easy to focus only on the advantages of foreign-affiliated companies, such as “high salaries,” Japanese-affiliated companies also have their own advantages.
    Stable income and employment
  • Good benefits package
  • Excellent education system

These are advantages that foreign-affiliated companies do not have. Let's look at them in detail.


Stable income and employment

At Japanese-affiliated companies, there are few cases in which salaries rise or fall sharply depending on job performance. In addition, the culture of lifetime employment tends to emphasize years of service, so the longer you work for a company, the more likely you are to be promoted and earn a stable income.

Unfair dismissal or pressure to resign is rare in Japanese-affiliated companies, which operate in compliance with the Labor Standards Law. Unlike foreign-affiliated companies, there is little risk of sudden restructuring, and employment is stable.

Unlike performance-based companies, income is protected and employment is stable, making it easier for those who are sensitive to pressure to work compared to foreign-affiliated companies.


Excellent benefits package

Japanese-affiliated companies offer a full range of benefits, including housing subsidies, retirement benefits, and recreation facilities. For example, “rent subsidies of 60,000 yen per month are provided.

At first glance, the salary may seem lower than that of foreign-affiliated companies, but Japanese-affiliated companies may offer more advantages in terms of generous benefits in addition to fixed salaries such as monthly wages.


Excellent education system

In Japanese-affiliated companies, where lifetime employment and seniority systems are deeply rooted, many people have been with the company for a long time and have a deep understanding of the company, creating an environment in which supervisors and senior employees can train new employees well.

In addition, because they are expected to stay with the company for a long time with lifetime employment, they tend to take the time and effort to educate and train people who will be beneficial to the company. Because the mainstream approach is to hire people at a young age and train them comprehensively as the company's workforce, there are few cases in which highly specialized knowledge and skills are required from the start.

Disadvantages of Japanese companies

The three disadvantages of Japanese companies with stable employment are as follows.

  • Achievements may not be linked to annual income
  • Difficult to maintain work-life balance
  • Difficult to take paid leave


Sometimes results and annual income are not linked

Japanese-affiliated companies tend to promote and raise employees based on a seniority system. Even if you produce good results, it is difficult for your evaluation to be reflected in your salary, so it does not motivate you to produce even better results.

Some people are dissatisfied with this system because “the work is concentrated on those who are good at their jobs, but it is not reflected in their salaries, so they only get busier and busier.


Difficult to maintain work-life balance

Japanese-affiliated companies tend to believe that people who sacrifice their private lives to work overtime or on holidays are contributing to the company.

Recently, due to improvements in the working environment, more companies are allowing people to have more private time than before. However, some older workers seem to favor people who work as they see fit over those who are more efficient at their jobs.

This makes it difficult to maintain a work-life balance, as people work lazily and without thinking about efficiency.


Difficult to take paid leave

The tendency to emphasize the importance of the contribution one makes to the company through one's work rather than one's personal life also makes it difficult to take paid leave.

Even if a company has a system in place to provide various types of leave, such as paid leave, parental leave, and nursing care leave, there are cases where employees give up taking advantage of the system due to the cold shoulder from their supervisors and colleagues.

Recently, companies have been obliged to require employees to use their paid leave due to the enforcement of the Workplace Workplace Reform Act. This will gradually lower the hurdle for employees to take leave in the future.

Episodes from people who have worked for foreign companies

Here are some testimonials from people who have worked for foreign companies.
Please use them as a reference when changing jobs.



Unlike Japanese-affiliated companies, it is very easy to take paid vacations as long as you perform your duties.
In general, work is not dictated by a supervisor, but is self-managed, so once you decide to take a vacation, you can make adjustments as you go along. Even when I take a week off for summer vacation or other reasons, the people around me say things like, “If you're going to go on a trip anyway, why don't you take more time off and stop by at ~?"

My foreign colleagues go back to their countries for two weeks for Christmas vacation, so the office is quiet and a bit lonely in December.

Since the discretion of work is largely left to the individual in foreign-affiliated companies, scheduling for vacations tends to be easier. In addition, many employees are away from the company for two weeks for Christmas vacation, etc., so a one-week vacation does not seem to be viewed as special.



My salary has increased considerably since I changed jobs at a foreign company. My colleagues from my days at the Japanese company are envious of me, but I consider this salary to include retirement benefits since I do not receive any retirement benefits. Also, restructuring is possible at a foreign company, so the high income is insurance against that.

You need to consider not only the amount of salary, but also the benefits package, and then decide whether a foreign-affiliated or Japanese-affiliated company is right for you.



If you have the ability, even young people are invited to attend meetings with top management and are asked to give their opinions. Due to the time difference between Japan and overseas, some meetings start after 10:00 p.m., which can be a challenge, but I can live with the fact that we are in a global environment. I am satisfied and motivated because my efforts are reflected in my salary.

It is an advantage of foreign-affiliated companies that they can offer opportunities for success regardless of age.

Characteristics of people who are suited for foreign companies

There are various differences between foreign-affiliated and Japanese-affiliated companies in terms of corporate culture, evaluation methods, and work procedures. People who are suited to work for foreign-affiliated companies are as follows.

  • Have a desire to grow
  • Have good communication skills to express themselves
  • Confident in language skills
  • Have a strong mentality

We will explain in detail.


Willingness to grow

People who are suited to work for a foreign company are those who are able to find and learn the skills and abilities they need on their own. Foreign-affiliated companies do not provide hand-holding job instructions or training. You need to think, plan, and execute your current job and future career on your own.

Also, in a meritocratic foreign company, if you do not produce results, there is a possibility that you will be restructured. People who are not satisfied with their current abilities and who are willing to grow and develop are suited to work for a foreign company.


Good communication skills to get your point of view across

People who have the ability to show themselves are suited to work for foreign-affiliated companies. In Japanese culture, modesty is considered a virtue, but it is not acceptable in a global society. You need to be able to express your opinions openly and without hesitation, even when mixed with people who have been raised with different backgrounds.

To avoid being buried in the crowd of colleagues with similar skills, a person who can clearly express his or her own opinions is a good candidate for a foreign company.


Confident in language skills

As long as you work for a foreign company, you will need to speak languages other than Japanese. This is because not only are your superiors and colleagues non-Japanese, but also some of your customers may be non-Japanese. In addition, English is often used in e-mails, conversations, documents, contracts, etc., and depending on the content, differences in understanding may cause losses to the company.

Therefore, those who are confident in their language skills will be able to play an active role in a foreign-affiliated company.


mentally strong

In performance-based foreign companies, mental strength is also necessary. If you do not produce results, you will not be evaluated, and you may be transferred to the left or even restructured. In addition, the speed of work is fast, and there are sudden changes in instructions. A flexible mentality that responds quickly and the mentality to carry out duties without losing under pressure are essential in foreign-affiliated companies.



Foreign companies are looking for specialists in their field, not all-rounders. Therefore, those who excel in one thing are likely to be hired. However, even if you are able to enter the company, you may have a hard time if you cannot demonstrate your ability as an immediate asset. In addition, because of the need to continually produce results, it is necessary to constantly study to improve one's skills.

If you are skilled in a specialized field or want to become a specialist in a particular field, a foreign company may be a good fit for you.

Skills useful in a foreign company

The following three skills are especially necessary in a foreign company with a culture different from Japanese culture.

  • Language skills
  • Cross-cultural understanding
  • Logical thinking


language ability

There are positions in foreign companies where English proficiency is not a problem. However, English proficiency will certainly broaden your field of activity. In most cases, language skills are required for overseas business trips, meetings in global settings, and promotion to manager level.

Therefore, it is advisable to improve your language skills.

For more information on language skills for foreign-capital companies, please refer to “What kind of English skills are required for foreign-capital companies? Please refer to “What English Proficiency is Required for a Foreign Company? Thorough explanation of industry level and practical matters


Intercultural Comprehension

In a foreign company, you have the opportunity to work with people who have grown up in a variety of cultures. To work smoothly with people from different cultures, you must minimize cross-cultural conflicts. This requires the ability to accept diversity, empathy, and a willingness to learn about other cultures. People who have these skills will be accepted and successful in a foreign company.

logical thinking

Logical thinking is a logical and reasonable way of thinking and explaining things. In foreign companies, where things are done in a speedy manner, people tend to dislike hearing about processes in a lazy manner. Also, when speaking with people from various cultures, you need to make things as easy to understand as possible or it will lead to miscommunication.

Therefore, people with logical thinking who can talk about problems and solutions in a short amount of time are welcomed by foreign-capitalized companies.

For more information on skills that are useful at a foreign company, please refer to “Six qualifications that are advantageous for changing jobs at a foreign company! Essential Skills and How to Get a Job!”.


There are differences in work procedures, evaluations, and culture between foreign-affiliated and Japanese-affiliated companies. It is a good idea to determine whether your personality and aptitude are better suited to either company before proceeding with your job search.

Also, each country and each company has its own unique characteristics. It is time-consuming and difficult to obtain specific information on your own. Using a foreign-capitalized company recruitment agent will help you to work more efficiently.

At United World, our dedicated career advisors work closely with each individual to support your job search. Please consult with us about anything from concerns during your activities to skill development and future career plans. We will introduce you to the best job opportunities that suit you!

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