top of page

Negotiating Salary in Japan

Negotiating salaries in Japanese companies can be challenging, as the country’s culture strongly emphasizes group harmony and avoiding confrontation. If you have worked in other countries before, you may find negotiating in Japan is not as common. However, it is possible to successfully negotiate your salary in a Japanese company with the right approach.

What to Consider Before Negotiating Salary

Some factors determine the possibility of salary negotiation. Depending on these things, you may have no chance of negotiating at all.

How salary work in Japan generally

Before going into the negotiating process, you should understand the salary system in Japanese companies. As permanent or membership-type employment is common in Japan, many companies have a seniority-based pay system. It means employees will receive a raise for their age or length of service rather than their work performance. The amount of raise will also be similar for each employee.

Salary is negotiable in Japan, although uncommon

In the membership-type system case, employees can expect a constant increase after a fixed period. However, it’s hard to negotiate for a higher amount or sooner than what the company has decided. Job-type employment has a better chance of negotiating salary for their achievements in the company.

Where do you work

Large, established companies have little to no chance for salary negotiation. They usually have a fixed system to determine wages, such as company service length, education, and professional experience in the industry. Negotiating is possible, but it is definitely more challenging than in start-ups.

If you are an English teacher, what kind of school or institution you work at significantly affects your wage. Let’s say you work in a school with a low tuition fee or have only a few students. Logically, they can’t pay you much since they don’t get that much money in the first place. Therefore, you should consider switching schools if you want a pay increase.

Working experience

It is unlikely for fresh graduates to negotiate salary since they have minimal experience and value for the company. On the contrary, professionals with years of experience and worthy skill sets have leverage in salary negotiation.

To know reasonable pay for your qualifications, you must do market research. You can join a community and ask other professionals in your industry or search online, especially on company review websites like Tokhimo Review. Talking to recruitment agencies is also a great idea since they understand the job market well and usually work in your favor.

Strategy to Negotiate Salary in Japan

Negotiating is a skill. Saying that you deserve a raise and stating the number you won’t get you anywhere. Here are some tips for successful negotiation.

  • Bid the perfect timing

For employees trying to negotiate salary after working for a while, it’s necessary to know the company’s fiscal year. In Japan, the fiscal year usually starts on April 1 and ends on March 31. Timing is essential because you want your employer to revise their budget before it’s all set for the following year. Therefore, discussing salary raises in January or February is beneficial for you. You will have some time for negotiating and your employer to consider.

Negotiate before signing contract

For newly applied candidates, it’s best to state your wanted salary upfront. Write the numbers in your rirekisho, so if the company proceeds with your application, they are open to negotiation. Then, you can bring up the negotiation in the interview or after receiving the offer but before signing the contract.

  • Highlight what you can contribute

You have to give a logical and suitable reason for asking for a raise. Employers want profit for their company, so you need to focus on the value you can bring to the company rather than just your qualifications or experience. Highlight the specific skills and experiences you have that will help the company achieve its goals and explain how these will benefit the company in the long run.

Build a case to show what you can do. You can also mention projects you have done in the past to prove your expertise. It will help to demonstrate that you are a valuable asset to the company and that a higher salary is justified.

  • Ask for a reasonable amount

Asking your employer to double your salary at once makes no sense. Instead, ask for a smaller raise at one time. You can also ask higher than what you intended. If your employer refuses, you can find “the middle ground” by asking lower than the previous number, but it’s actually what you originally wanted.

However, if you contributed greatly to your company and, after doing market research, you found yourself worth double the current pay, you may consider moving to another company. Consult recruitment agencies to know the reasonable salary for your experience and skills and find the right company. Recruiters usually help you negotiate, which improves your chance for higher pay.

  • Be mindful of the language

It’s crucial to be aware of the Japanese communication style, which tends to be indirect and non-confrontational. Be respectful and polite when negotiating your salary, and avoid coming across as overly aggressive or demanding. Instead, try to express your points clearly and calmly, and be willing to listen to the other person’s perspective.

  • Look for other benefits

Salary is not the only thing to ensure your well-being. The benefits that come with the salary might be attractive and more than compensate for the balance. If a pay raise is not possible, negotiate other benefits such as flexible work arrangements, additional leave, training opportunities, lunch fees, housing subsidies, and many more.

You can negotiate for remote working

Finally, it is important to remember that salary negotiation is a process, and it may take several rounds of negotiation before a final agreement is reached. You also need to be prepared for the possibility that the company may not be able to offer you the salary you are asking for and to be willing to compromise.


Looking for career opportunities in Japan?

Create your profile in Tokhimo and let recruiters approach you!

Set up your account easily and for free.



Looking for career opportunities in Japan?

Create your profile in Tokhimo Jobs and let recruiters approach you!
Set up your account easily and for free.

Contact Us



© 2023 Tokhimo Inc. All Rights Reserved.

bottom of page