April 16, 2021


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The Lowdown on Salary: How Much Do You Need in Japan?

The quest to find the right career for you can be a long and gruelling one, and after weeks and months of preparation, tests, and interviews, and when it is finally time to sift through the job offers you have earned, there is yet more to consider. While there are many factors that job seekers take into consideration when accepting an offer, such as future career prospects, company culture, and job scope, one of the biggest factors that can make or break a decision is salary. How much should you expect to receive in a position in your field, and whether that amount will sustain the existing lifestyle you have, are both very important questions to ask. Adding to that, is the question of how much is really needed to cover the cost for basic necessities and how much will be leftover for savings, entertainment, and other miscellaneous expenses.


To begin answering these questions, we need to first take a look at the figures. As the case with everywhere else, salary can vary greatly between age, experience, and occupational fields. In Japan,  rates can also differ from company to company, depending on whether they are local or international companies. Focusing on rates in Japanese companies,, the salary a fresh undergrad can expect to receive at their first job is averaged at ¥202,000 per month, while the average for a graduate is placed slightly higher at ¥228,000. Looking at salaries based on occupational fields, average monthly pay for a person aged 20 to 40 working in sales is between ¥238,000 and ¥290,000. Conversely, salaries for those ages 20 to 40 working in the software engineering field is placed between ¥234,000 to ¥365,000 per month. It is worth noting that these figures can be greatly influenced by company size as well, with workers in smaller companies taking in up to ¥40,000 less per month compared to those working in large corporations.

Unlike in some overseas countries where job candidates are asked about their expected salary, Japanese companies provide information on pay and bonuses are typically found on a company’s recruitment website, or provided to you by a recruiter in charge. This includes approximate monthly pay, yearly expected income, and number of annual bonuses among other incentives. This offers a level of transparency and can help candidates better make their career choices.

The figures provided represent the cumulative salary that one can expect to earn for one’s services to the company, yet is not indicative of one’s take-home-pay. Various fees and taxes are deducted from one’s total salary, leaving about 80% of those figures as take-home-pay. In the case of a fresh graduate earning about ¥200,000 a month, their take home pay can be said to be around ¥160,000 after deductions.

Now that we have a better understanding on how salary works in Japan and a general overview on rates to expect, we now come to the big question – is it enough? How should monthly expenses be divided for a single person starting out their career in Tokyo? Using the above figure of ¥160,000, a sample monthly expense chart may look something like this:


Rent ¥70,000
Electricity ¥5000
Gas ¥2000
Water and Sewage ¥3000
Internet ¥4000
Phone Bill ¥4000
Food ¥50,000
Transport ¥8,000
Total ¥146,000


This chart covers all basic necessities with assumed average costs for various bills such as housing and utilities. In truth, most of these figures are flexible and the choice is yours to make based on your lifestyle – one may want to save on rent and spend more on food, or spend less on transport by limiting train rides. Japan is full of options, whether you’re budget-savvy or don’t mind giving yourself a treat every now and then, with smart decisions and good spending habits there are countless ways of making things work for you without breaking the bank. That being said, as shown in the above chart ¥160,000 a month should provide enough room for flexible spending and savings as well.




Also published on Medium.


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