Working For a Startup in Japan: An Insider's Perspective

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

Author: Raihan Abimanyu

Published Date: 26th December 2019

Startups may become the next big thing here in Japan. With Japanese youngsters increasingly shifting from everyday corporate cultures to government support in establishing the proper startup ecosystem; we are expecting a startup trend to emerge soon. This also means, increased employment opportunities and alternative workplaces for you!

The Japanese Startup Scene

We all have heard of the startup craze of the silicon valley, even extending and spilling over into South-East Asia and China.

Recently, the Indonesian ride-hailing app, Gojek is expected to be the 2nd decacorn (startups valued at over US$10 Billion) in the region while the Chinese Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent-backed WeChat Pay are expanding services for inbound tourists visiting China. Japan is one of the world’s-leading nations in science and technology, but we honestly haven’t heard a lot about this scale of innovations or breakthroughs.

In contrast, the start-up scene is a rather new phenomenon here in Japan. With the infamously rigid and stringent business environment, they are significantly lagging in entrepreneurship compared to previously mentioned part of the world. Japanese workers are more used to stability of corporations and views entrepreneurships as a plan B.

For entrepreneurs, risks of bankruptcy looms large and even if you succeed, you won’t be making much more than executives in the Sogo Shoshas (General Trading companies such as Mitsubishi, Mitsui or Sumitomo).

In short, entrepreneur was all risk and no reward while employment in large companies are all reward and no risk. However, this might come into substantial change in the near future as Japanese startups are getting more and more attention from the public, even the JETRO.