What is the average salary in Japan for foreigners? (2022)

Tako
2022/11/22

The most important consideration when deciding where to work is how much can you earn? For those thinking of working in Japan, you must be thinking “What is the average salary in Japan for foreigners?”

In this article, we answer that question and more including “What is the minimum wage in Japan?” “How much does the average Japanese earn?” and “How to read Japanese salary slips? What do all these Kanji mean?”. 


Table of Contents

  1. Average Salary in Japan for Foreigners (2022)
  2. Average Annual Income in Japan Overall (2022)
  3. Minimum Wage in Japan (2022)
  4. What affects your salary in Japan?
  5. How to Read Salary Slips in Japan
  6. To Close

Average Salary in Japan for Foreigners (2022)

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's latest “Basic Wage Structure Statistical Survey 2021”, the average salary in Japan for foreigners is 2,737,200 yen annual income, or 228,100 yen per month.  

Compared to average annual income of 2,617,200 yen, or 218,100 yen per month, in the previous year (2020), the average annual income in 2021 has increased considerably

There is quite a big difference in average annual income as compared to Japanese workers who have an average annual income of 3,688,800 yen. The reason for this is because the average age of foreign workers is lower, and their length of service is shorter than that of Japanese workers. 

What is the average age and length of service in Japan?

  • For Japanese workers, the average age is 43.4 years old, and their average length of service is 12.3 years.

  • For foreign workers in Japan, the average age of foreign workers in Japan is 32.7 years old, and their average length of service is 3.4 years

In Japan, promotions called 社内昇進 (shanai shoushin), are largely based on seniority. This means that the longer you’ve been at a company, the higher your position, and therefore the better your income. At the same time, your age also usually becomes a factor, resulting in a gap in average annual income between foreigners and Japanese workers as shown in the survey. 

By Status of Residence

The average salary in Japan for foreigners by status of residence is as follows.

【Average Salary in Japan for Foreigners by Status of Residence】

(average annual income amounts are approximate figures)

  • Professional / Technical (excluding SSW) : 3,918,000 yen (326,500 yen per month)
  • Permanent Resident / Spouse of Japanese National, etc. : 3,247,200 yen (270,600 yen per month)
  • Specified Skilled Worker : 2,338,800 yen (194,900 yen per month)
  • Technical Intern : 1,969,200 yen (164,100 yen per month)
  • Others (permission to engage in other activities) : 2,275,200 yen(189,600 yen per month)

Note that the average annual income of technical interns is quite low because it is different from the other status of residences. The purpose of technical intern training is not for business, but a system that aims to transfer skills to foreigners. Therefore, it is difficult to get high wages because profits cannot be prioritized

One way for foreigners to increase their salary is by changing jobs. Note that this is limited to those whose status of residence allows for job changing. For more details about how to change jobs in Japan, read The Basics of Changing Jobs in Japan

※ MHLW, “令和2・3年賃金構造基本統計調査

Average Annual Income in Japan (2022)

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's latest “Basic Wage Structure Statistical Survey 2021”, the average annual income of full-time workers in Japan in 2021 is approximately 3,688,800 yen, or 307,400 yen per month.  

Compared to the average annual income of 3,692,400 yen, or 307,700 yen per month, in the previous year (2020), the average annual income in 2021 has decreased slightly. This is likely due to the decrease in bonus amount, caused by the stagnation of economic activity due to the pandemic.

What is a full-time worker in Japan? 

In Japan, as defined by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, a full-time worker (一般労働者 ippan roudousha) means regular workers who are employed for an indefinite period of time, or for a period of 1 month or longer, but excludes short time workers (短時間労働者 tanjikan roudousha)

※ MHLW, “令和2・3年賃金構造基本統計調査 結果の概況:主な用語の定義

Below, we will further introduce and explain the data on the average annual income in Japan divided by category. 

By Gender

The average annual income in Japan by gender in 2021 is 4,046,400 yen (337,200 yen per month) for men, and approximately 3,043,200 yen (253,600 yen per month) for women.

In Japan, many women choose to have irregular employment for the sake of marriage and childcare. In addition, the percentage of women in managerial positions is lower than that of men resulting in lower income. 

By Educational Background

The average annual income in Japan by educational background in 2021 is as follows. 

【Average Annual Income according to Highest Educational Attainment】

(amounts are approximate figures)

  • High School:3,258,000 yen (271,500 yen per month)
  • Vocational School:3,460,800 yen (288,400 yen per month)
  • Technical College / Junior College:3,470,400 yen (289,200 yen per month)
  • University: 4,314,000 yen (359,500 yen per month)
  • Graduate School:5,449,200 yen (454,100 yen per month)

The same situation as in other countries, which is the higher education you’ve achieved, the higher your annual income tends to be. Of course, there are many people who have low educational backgrounds but high incomes as well. It is not uncommon for high school graduates to be recognized for their abilities and achievements, who earn annual incomes that are higher than university graduates. 

Note that, in Japan, more than 50% of Japanese students go to university, and as for university, the attendance rate rises to over 90%. 

Not sure about the higher education system in Japan, our article The Confusing University Education System in Japan explains all you need to know about the different types of higher education establishments in Japan. 

By Age

The average annual income in Japan by age in 2021 is as follows. 

【Average Annual Income in Japan by Age Group】

(amounts are approximate figures)

  • Up to 19 years old: 2,190,000 yen (182,500 yen per month)
  • 20-24 years old:2,557,200 yen (213,100 yen per month)
  • 25-29 years old:2,954,400 yen (246,200 yen per month)
  • 30-34 years old:3,309,600 yen (275,800 yen per month)
  • 35-39 years old:3,660,000 yen (305,000 yen per month) 
  • 40-44 years old:3,936,000 yen (328,000 yen per month)
  • 45-49 years old:4,131,600 yen (344,300 yen per month)
  • 50-54 years old:4,394,400 yen (366,200 yen per month)
  • 55-59 years old:4,386,000 yen (365,500 yen per month)
  • 60-64 years old:3,513,600 yen (292,800 yen per month)
  • 65-69 years old:3,117,600 yen (259,800 yen per month)
  • 70 years and older:2,919,600 yen (243,300 yen per month)

In Japan, the prime working generation is considered to be around the age of 35~59. Looking at the data from MHLW’s survey, it can be observed that the average annual income increases steadily as age increases. The average annual income peaks at 50~54 years old. At this age range, most people are in positions of higher responsibility, and are promoted to management positions in companies. 

※ MHLW, “令和3年賃金構造基本統計調査

Minimum Wage in Japan (2022)

As of October 1, 2022, the minimum wage (最低賃金 saitei chingin) in Japan was revised. In Japan, the minimum wage is different from area to area. The minimum wage is based on hourly wage (時給 jikyuu). For those whose salaries are calculated by the hour, usually part-timers and contract workers, it is important to know what your area’s minimum wage is. 

New Minimum Hourly Wage in Japan (as of October 2022)

Prefecture

NEW
Minimum
Wage
(yen)

Previous
Minimum
Wage
(yen)

Prefecture

NEW
Minimum
Wage
(yen)

Previous
Minimum
Wage
(yen)

Prefecture

NEW
Minimum
Wage
(yen)

Previous
Minimum
Wage
(yen)

(Nationwide
Average)

961

930

Toyama

908

877

Shimane

857

824

Hokkaido

920

889

Ishikawa

891

861

Okayama

892

862

Aomori

853

822

Fukui

888

858

Hiroshima

930

899

Iwate

854

821

Yamanashi

898

866

Yamaguchi

888

857

Miyagi

883

853

Nagano

908

877

Tokushima

855

824

Akita

853

822

Gifu

910

880

Kagawa

878

848

Yamagata

854

822

Shizuoka

944

913

Ehime

853

821

Fukushima

858

828

Aichi

986

955

Kochi

853

820

Ibaraki

911

879

Mie

933

902

Fukuoka

900

870

Tochigi

913

882

Shiga

927

896

Saga

853

821

Gunma

895

865

Kyoto

968

937

Nagasaki

853

821

Saitama

987

956

Osaka

1023

992

Kumamoto

853

821

Chiba

984

953

Hyogo

960

928

Oita

854

822

Tokyo

1072

1041

Nara

896

866

Miyazaki

853

853

Kanagawa

1071

1040

Wakayama

889

859

Kagoshima

853

853

Niigata

890

859

Tottori

854

821

Okinawa

853

820

To summarise the above table: 

  • The average minimum wage in Japan (nationwide 47 prefectures) is 961 yen per hour. 
  • The prefectures with minimum wage above the national average are Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Kyoto, and Osaka
  • The prefecture with the highest minimum wage is Tokyo (1072 yen per hour).
  • Prefectures with the lowest minimum wage are Aomori, Akita, Ehime, Kochi, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, and Okinawa (853 yen per hour). Previously, the prefectures with the lowest minimum wage were Kochi and Okinawa.
※ MHLW, “地域別最低賃金の全国一覧

What affects your salary in Japan?

Looking at the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare’s annual “Basic Wage Structure Statistical Surveys (賃金構造基本統計調査)”, the results are published in several categories. These categories can be said to be the biggest factors affecting salary in Japan. 

Factors that Affect Salary in Japan

  • Gender
  • Educational Background
  • Company / Corporation Size
  • Industry
  • Employment Type
  • Position
  • Location

You can check the average annual income in Japan by the factors/categories above in the link below. 

※ e-Stat, “賃金構造基本統計調査

How to Read Salary Slips in Japan

Salary slips or payslips are called「給与明細 kyuuyo meisai」in Japanese. In Japan, payslips are issued on paper or electronically whenever salary is paid. Not only the amount of salary paid, but other information such as amount deducted and number of days worked are written down in detail and separated into many categories, so many people find it difficult to understand their payslip. 

In this part, we will explain how to read Japanese salary slips. Note that the format of salary slips may differ from company to company. 

Categories for Days Worked and Overtime 

The「勤怠 kintai」section is where the number of days and hours worked, paid leave, absents, etc. are written. Kintai means “attendance and absence” in relation to work. 

  • 就業日数 / shuugyou nissu / working days : number of working days in the month as determined by the company

  • 出勤日数 / shukkin nissu / days worked : number of actual days worked in the month

  • 欠勤日数 / kekkin nisuu / days absent : number of days absent in the month (unpaid leave)

  • 遅刻日数 / chikoku nissu / days late : number of days late to work in the month

  • 早退日数 / soutai nissu / days left early : number of days when left work early in the month

  • 有給消化日数 / yuukyuu shouka nissu / paid leave used : number of paid leave taken in the month

  • 有給残 / yuukyuu zan / remaining paid leave : remaining number of usable paid leave 

  • 勤務時間 / kinmu jikan / working hours : number of hours worked in the month

  • 普通残業時間 / futsuu zangyou jikan / overtime hours : number of hours of overtime in the month 

  • 休日出勤時間 / kyuujitsu shukkin jikan / holiday work : number of hours worked on a statutory holiday in the month

[Important] Be sure to check that you have been paid for any overtime done, as well as no deductions for days you took paid leave! 

Categories for Salary Payment 

The「支給 shikyuu」section is where the base salary, allowances, overtime, etc. are written. Shikyuu can mean many things in Japanese, including payment, grant and allowance. 

  • 基本給 / kihonkyuu / base salary : the basic wage paid by the company for the month

  • 通勤手当 / tsuukin teate / commute allowance : allowance for commute to work (bus fare, train fare, commute pass, etc.)

  • 住宅手当 / juutaku teate / housing allowance : allowance for rent, mortgage, etc. 

  • 役職手当 / yakushoku teate / executive allowance : allowance for performance of certain roles and responsibilities in the company

  • 残業手当 / zangyou teate / overtime pay : pay for overtime work in the month

  • 資格手当 / shikaku teate / qualification allowance : allowance for acquiring qualification / certification

  • 深夜勤務手当 / shinya kinmu teate / late-night work pay : additional pay for working between 22:00~05:00 of the next day (additional 25% or more of base salary as stipulated by law )

  • 法定休日手当 / houtei kyuujitsu teate / statutory holiday pay: additional pay for working on legal holidays (additional 35% or more of base salary as stipulated by law)

The type of allowance provided varies from company to company. In addition to the allowances introduced above, some companies also provide “quit smoking allowance (禁煙手当 kinen teate)” to encourage employees to practise healthy lifestyles, or “meal allowance (食事手当 shokuji teate)” to subsidise lunch expenses. 

Categories for Salary Deductions

The「控除 koujo」section is where salary deductions are written. In Japan, pension, health insurance premiums, and income taxes are generally deducted from company employees’ salaries. The take-home pay is salary payments after deductions. 

  • 健康保険 / kenkou hoken / health insurance : insurance payments to receive medical benefits in cases of illness or injury

  • 厚生年金 / kousei nenkin / welfare pension : pension contributions for retirement

  • 介護保険 / kaigo hoken / nursing insurance : payment to receive long-term care services in the future (applicable for those aged 40 and above)

  • 雇用保険 / koyou hoken / unemployment insurance : insurance payments to receive benefits if become unemployed

  • 所得税 / shotokuzei / income tax : tax on income

  • 住民税 / juuminzei / resident tax : tax to maintain administrative services in the area  you live 

The amount of deductions depends on the amount of salary received and the previous year’s income. 

To Close

The average salary in Japan for foreigners and locals is expected to fluctuate. There are many factors at play including commodity prices, the pandemic, and global economic conditions. If you are considering working in Japan, we recommend checking the economic trends before making a decision.

 

Originally Posted: Jan 18, 2022
Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Writer

Tako
Hailed from Malaysia, living in Tokyo. Anime, manga, travel, and food lover. Just doing my best to survive. 一生懸命生きています。

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