As Japan prepares to open the gates to more foreigners, the country has also begun to loosen the purse strings. The struggle of many industries to maintain a strong workforce has led companies to increase the average salary of workers all around Japan to attract more employees. In recent years, Japan has continuously had to raise the minimum wage, generating an ideal situation for skilled laborers. That is fantastic news all-around for employees, but for foreign workers, it is especially great since a new law requires companies to pay workers from overseas the same wages as their Japanese counterparts.
Industries included in the new “Specified Skills” visa (like Nursing, Hospitality, and Food Service) offer an annual salary from 2,350,000 yen to 3,300,000 yen, which is near the average annual income for the country. In the case of resin factory workers, data from 2017 showed that the average annual income for men was ¥4,349,100 and ¥3,003,300 for women. Japan has one of the best salaries countries in Asia, so it is a great opportunity for foreigners to join the workforce. This kind of pay paired with Japan’s surprising livability means that you can easily earn and save money.
Average Salary for Full-Time Workers
A survey taken between 2017 and 2018 found that the average annual income was 4.14 million Japanese yen. To come up with that number, 360,000 company employees were studied from a range of industries, regions, and job types.
Manufacturing turns out to be one of the highest paying industries in Japan and happens to employ a large number of foreigners. About 4.17% of workers in the manufacturing industry come from overseas. You should chose your sector in the manufacturing industry carefully though. Some pay much more than others, though they tend to be more volatile and demanding. Interestingly, the toiletries, paper and pulp sector has recently risen to the top of the earnings chart. There is apparently high demand for toilet paper in Japan, wiping away the competition.
That’s all I have to say about that data point.
The IT industry is also highly recommended for foreigners who don’t want to subject their body to physical labor. It is also one of the highest paying industries on average (¥487,441), and employs plenty for foreigners, as a native level of Japanese Language skills is not usually required. It is also worth noting that it is the highest paying industry for women.
Average Monthly Salary by Industry in Japan
When broken down into industries, the numbers look like this, according to the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication:
The industry with the highest number of foreign workers is the service industry, which includes hospitality, food and drink, and more. While the job openings are plentiful, it is also the lowest paying on average. You can still expect to make about ¥3.76 million annually, which isn’t nothing. It is something to keep in mind when considering your career options in Japan.
Of course, moving up toward the senior levels, the average salaries increase. The manufacturing senior average get up to ¥643,000. So there is room for improvement as you are promoted in any industry.
How to Save the Money You Earn in Japan
So you know how much you could possible make while working in Japan, but how much of that actually goes into your pockets? If you look at just the rent cost for a tiny Tokyo apartment, the major Japanese city may seem way too expensive to live in. However, there are lots of ways to save your hard-earned cash in Japan. You’ll find that daily life in Japan can be quite affordable if you manage your money right. Here are some reasons why living in Japan could be a great decision for you.
Rent in Japan
Cooking and Grocery Shopping in Japan
Unfortunately, there is no magic spell to keep your bank account healthy. As in many other situations in life, the devil is in the details — as they say — when it comes to spending in Japan. All of the quick trips to the conbini (convenient store), food stalls, and ramen shops scattered along the streets in Japan can really add up to a surprising amount of money. Though the famously delicious Japanese food can be quite tantalizing, the best thing you can do to keep up your savings is to cook. This includes making adorable Japanese bentos to take with you to work for lunch. Grow your wallet and shrink your waistline with this simple habit.
To stretch your cash even further, you can do your grocery shopping late at night. Many supermarkets will offer discounts after a certain time, so be sure to check with your local grocer for great discounts after the sun (and prices) go down. Also, domestic Japanese grown fruit actually tend to be more expensive than imported fruit from other countries.
Some major cheap supermarkets in Japan are Ozeki, Y’s Mart, and Seiyu. Of course, depending on your location, there may be even cheaper local stores selling a wide range of incredible food ready to be cooked at home.
100 yen or “Hyaku-en” Stores and Recycle Shops
The cost of daily life and necessities can be managed well by making 100 yen shops your number 1 stop for all your household needs. Daiso, Seria, Can Do, Lawson Store 100, and more “hyaku-en” establishments are great resources for the cash-strapped life in Japan. Though these stores are very cheap alternatives, you can still expect decent quality from their products. You can find almost anything you need including, food, kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, home decorations, and much more for great prices.
Not everything you purchase for your apartment or wardrobe has to be brand-new. Buying second-hand items is another great way to save money. Across Japan, there are a plenty of great second-hand clothing stores — many of which are surprisingly fashionable. You can look your best without breaking the bank. Also recycle shops are of great value when shopping for furniture and household items like refrigerators, microwaves, lights, and vacuum cleaners. Mostly neighborhoods have at least one local recycle shop, while major chains like Hard Off or Book Off can be found throughout the country.
Saving with Japanese Point Cards
Like most other people around the world, the Japanese love to shop. To win over some loyal customers, many stores offer some attractive point cards. Some are much more useful than others, and it takes time to build up enough points to really make much of a difference. However, if you frequent one of the major electronic stores like Yamada Denki for supplies, eventually you will see a little bit coming back your way. The oversaturation of point cards make easy to ignore, but it is worth it in the long run.
Paying Utilities in Japan
Though you can reduce the cost of daily life with careful shopping and planning, there were certain inevitabilities, like the price of rent and utilities. But there are actually some late night deals from gas and electric companies to help with the housing costs in Japan. These utilities are cheaper from about 11:00pm to the early hours of the morning. Try sticking to a schedule for washing, cooking, and charging electronics.
Invest in Yourself
As you can see, there are plenty of jobs with decent pay that be taken by holders of the new Specified Skills Visa. All you need is some basic industry knowledge and a little bit of Japanese language skills. More skills exams are being held this year for industries in need of workers. Check out our basic courses to make sure you are ready to pass the test.