The 10 most popular companies in Japan

The 10 most popular companies in Japan

What are the best companies for your first job in Japan? Based on the activity of real students looking for their first job, Japanese recruitment sites published the most popular companies among new graduates. Looking at each of the companies, we could confirm that the companies at the top of this list are also actively hiring foreign staff.

Top 10 companies

1. JAL

The most popular company among Japanese students entering the job market in 2019 is Japan Airlines. JAL offers both passenger and commercial flights, and is the second largest Japanese commercial airline.

While JAL expects high English skills even from their Japanese staff, they seem to recruit most of their foreign workforce locally, in the respective countries.

  • Established: 1951
  • Employees: 32.753

2. Itochu

In second place is Itochu, a general trading company. They specialize in textiles, machinery, metal, energy, chemicals, food, housing, as well as information and finance.

Itochu participates at various bilingual job fairs, so give them a visit if you are interested and have a good command of Japanese.

  • Established: 1858
  • Employees: 4.354

3. ANA

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is the second Japanese airline to make it to the top of this list. With various subsidiary passenger carriers, ANA is the largest Japanese airline.

ANA also actively hires foreigners at various career fairs. While they do accept applications later in the year, be aware that some positions may already be filled.

  • Established: 1952
  • Employees: 13.518


Coming in fourth, is the financial service provider Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. MUFG is the largest financial group in Japan, owning multiple banks in Japan and abroad, as well as a variety of financial services.

As a company that is active around the globe, they promise career opportunities on a global stage. In line with this statement, they also hold company seminars for foreigners, but seem to focus on people with previous work experience.

  • Established: 2005
  • Employees: 106.800

5. Toyota

That the multinational car manufacturer Toyota is also very popular among Japanese graduates, does not come as a surprise. Known as the global market leader in hybrid electric vehicles, Toyota seems to be an interesting choice for foreigners too.

Toyota also hires foreigners, as long as they can bring the necessary skills.

  • Established: 1937
  • Employees: 364.445

6. Mitsubishi Corporation

More familiar as another Japanese car brand, behind Mitsubishi, the car manufacturer, stands Japan’s largest trading company, dealing in a variety of sectors, including banking and finance, machinery, energy, chemicals and food.

Same as their financial branch, MUFG (number four on this list), Mitsubishi’s trading company also hires foreigners. Considering the needs of foreign graduates, they offer a separate recruitment process, that is held later than the one for Japanese candidates.

  • Established: 1954
  • Employees: 77.164

7. Suntory Group

Suntory, an old Japanese brewing and distilling company, has kept up with the flow of time and expanded not only its brand, but also its appeal to new graduates. Originally focused on alcoholic beverages, nowadays you can also find their soft drinks everywhere in Japanese supermarkets and vending machines.

Suntory also hires foreign graduates, and unlike most other companies you can even apply from abroad.

  • Established: 1899
  • Employees: 37.745

8. Tokyo Marine Nichido

Tokyo Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. is an insurance company, specializing in property and casualty insurances.

Overseeing a variety of subsidiaries abroad, Tokyo Marine Nichido allows candidates to choose between a skills-based course and a “Global Course.” They are looking to hire foreigners who can bring in new perspectives and insights.

  • Established: 1879
  • Employees: 17.368

9. Shiseido

With all the care Japanese people put into their looks, a cosmetics brand also makes it into the top ten. One of the oldest companies of its kind in the world, now Shiseido has many subsidiaries abroad and turned into the fifth largest cosmetics player in the world.

Shiseido accepts foreign applicants who are in Japan and who are willing to go through the same application process as Japanese candidates.

  • Established: 1872
  • Employees: 37.438

10. JR East

Possibly a surprise candidate, the East Japan Railway Company, serving the Kanto and Tohoku areas, also made the list.

JR East hires foreign graduates from Japanese universities. The recruitment process and requirements seem to be the same for Japanese nationals and foreigners.

  • Established: 1987
  • Employees: 73.017

Beyond the top 10

Not under the top ten but close are Sony, ranking 11th, as well as Accenture on place 13, which makes it the first foreign company on the list.

Keep your eyes open

You probably know many of the companies above already from your home country or have encountered them on your stay in Japan. If you look at the complete company rankings beyond the top 10, you will also see many great Japanese companies that you may not yet be aware of.

Small companies are looking for foreigners

All ten companies in this list hire foreigners. While many companies in Japan still struggle with hiring foreigners, more and more companies are opening their doors to candidates from abroad.

Small companies also welcome foreigners. As a popularity vote, this list favors big companies, but companies with less than 30 employees actually make up 50% of all places hiring foreigners in Japan.
This development is really good news.

Search in Japan

On the other hand, foreigners who want to work in Japan often have to go through the same recruitment process and meet the same conditions as Japanese candidates. In these cases, fluency in Japanese is a must, sometimes well beyond passing N1.

To increase your odds, staying in Japan for the duration of your job search is advisable. Candidates studying or living in Japan have better chances to adjust their schedules to the sometimes long-winding Japanese recruitment process, and some companies do not accept applications from anyone living outside of Japan.

You probably will have many questions about the companies you are considering. Take advantage of career fairs and company seminars to get in touch with companies directly. If you are unsure whether you meet the requirements, approach a company representative and just ask about the expected Japanese level or visa status. They will be happy to answer, and you can gain an opportunity to make a personal connection and explain your specific situation.

What do you think about the most popular companies among Japanese graduates?
Which Japanese companies would you like to work for?

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After traveling around for a while, I found my home in Tokyo. Now working in Shinjuku and discovering something new about Japan every day.