5 Real Reasons Why Japanese Companies Hesitate to Recruit from Overseas

In recent times, the prospect of securing a job in Japan has become increasingly challenging for foreigners. From visa restrictions to cultural differences, here we break down the hurdles one might face and what makes this process somewhat intricate.

1. The Hesitation to Hire Foreigners

First, please note that according to Japanese labor laws, terminating the contract of a full-time employee is a complex process with many potential risks. This often makes Japanese companies more cautious when it comes to hiring new staff.

Second, Japanese companies tend to be cautious about hiring foreigners, particularly those residing outside Japan. This reluctance stems from potential complications surrounding visa processes and other logistical issues.

Moreover, the preference leans towards local recruitment to save on costs and avoid administrative hassles, with many companies collaborating with local agencies to meet their recruitment needs.

2. Visa Constraints

What if a candidate can show up in Japan for the interview?

Foreign job seekers often find themselves racing against time due to the limited duration of tourist visas(3 months). This short window makes it difficult to secure a job, especially when considering the additional time needed to convert a tourist visa into a work visa, a process known to be both costly and complex.

The job interview process at well-established companies typically encompasses 3-5 phases, a procedure that can be notably time-consuming.

Conversely, smaller companies may find themselves in a predicament where the influx of qualified applications is insufficient, thereby prolonging the decision-making timeframe.

3. Procedural Complexities

Embarking on the journey to employ foreign workers involves navigating through different recruitment methods and employment procedures compared to hiring Japanese individuals. Especially for those doing it for the first time, the process can be quite laborious and complex.

4. Communication Barriers

According to a survey by Disco Corporation, the top qualities that companies look for in foreign students from humanities backgrounds are “communication skills”, ranking first at 55.8%, followed by “proficiency in Japanese”, coming in second at 49.6%. For students with a science background, both “proficiency in Japanese” and “communication skills” are tied for the top spot, each holding a 48.6% preference rate.

Communication stands as a significant barrier in the recruitment process. Companies are seeking individuals with strong communication skills and proficiency in the Japanese language, qualities that are hard to gauge from resumes alone.

Furthermore, the Japanese communication style, which often relies on implicit understanding, can lead to misunderstandings, emphasizing the need for a supportive environment that accommodates foreign workers.

5. Gap Between Japanese Management Styles and Employee Expectations

In contrast to many international firms that prioritize outcome when rewarding employees, Japanese management frequently emphasizes time-based output, communication skills, and team performance. This approach can sometimes clash with the expectations of exceptional foreign employees, leading them to exit the company prematurely due to these cultural difference in work values.

Furthermore, it is customary in Japan for departing employees to thoroughly complete their pending tasks to facilitate a smooth transition for their successors. However, this meticulous approach might not be a common consideration among foreign employees when exiting a company.

Consequently, companies aspiring to foster long-term relationships with their employees are faced with a dilemma: to modify their ingrained corporate culture or to sidestep the potential risks associated with hiring foreign personnel in the future.


Foreigners face several challenges when seeking employment in Japan. Japanese companies tend to be cautious about hiring foreigners due to potential visa and logistical complications. Additionally, communication barriers and differences in work values can lead to misunderstandings between foreign employees and Japanese management. The process to employ foreign workers in Japan can be quite laborious and complex, involving different recruitment methods and employment procedures compared to hiring Japanese individuals. Consequently, companies may need to modify their ingrained corporate culture or sidestep risks associated with hiring foreign personnel in the future to foster long-term relationships with their employees.