Japanese working overseas, and overseas workers in Japan


How important is understanding Japanese customs for foreign workers? graph of japanese statisticsThe Cabinet Office Japan recently took a look at the international movement of workers, which for this survey was specifically Japanese wanting to work overseas and foreigners coming to Japan.


Between the 15th and 25th of July 2010 3,000 people randomly selected from resident registration information were approached for face-to-face interviews. Of the 3,000, 1,913 people, or 63.8% were available and answered the questions. 54.0% of the sample were female, 8.6% in their twenties, 16.0% in their thirties, 17.8% in their forties, 18.6% in their fifties, 19.8% in their sixties, and 19.2% aged 70 or older. There were a few other demographic questions, but they were sufficiently interesting to be presented in distinct tables below.

I wonder if the last two questions about foreign workers are in any way related to this article from Ampontan, in particular this quote from Naoto Kan, who is Prime Minister at the time of writing, but may not be by the time you read this, in an interview responding to a question on job creation:

The first is to create hiring by such means as long-term care, for which there is long-term, latent demand, and relaxing the issuance of visas to foreigners.

Research results

Q1: Have you ever lived overseas on account of your job? If so, in total how long have you done so? (Sample size=1,913)

Yes, five years or more0.7%
Yes, four years0.3%
Yes, three years0.1%
Yes, two years0.3%
Yes, one year0.5%
Yes, less than a year3.6%
No, never94.6%

Q2: Have you ever lived overseas on account of studying (homestay, etc)? If so, in total how long have you done so? (Sample size=1,913)

Yes, five years or more0.2%
Yes, four years0.1%
Yes, three years0.1%
Yes, two years0.3%
Yes, one year0.5%
Yes, less than a year2.1%
No, never96.8%

Q3: Have you ever lived overseas on account of your parents, spouse, other family’s job? If so, in total how long have you done so? (Sample size=1,913)

Yes, five years or more1.7%
Yes, four years0.3%
Yes, three years0.7%
Yes, two years0.5%
Yes, one year0.6%
Yes, less than a year2.1%
No, never94.1%

Q4: How well can you speak a foreign language? (Sample size=1,913)

Can use at work2.9%
Can do everyday conversation5.3%
Enough to get by on holiday without problems14.1%
Can’t speak at all77.7%

For this question, I presume that people chose their strongest foreign language.

Q5: How interested are you in working overseas? (Sample size=1,913)

Interested (to SQ1 to SQ4)10.5%
Perhaps interested (to SQ1 to SQ4)11.6%
Perhaps not interested (to SQ5)16.3%
Not interested (to SQ5)61.2%
Don’t know0.6%

Q5SQ1: Why are you interested in working overseas? (Sample size=421, multiple answer)

Interested in foreign culture, lifestyles70.3%
Want to improve, utilise my foreign language skills42.3%
Want to improve, utilise my technical skills31.4%
Feel it is more rewarding that working domestically20.9%
Availability of jobs, fields to choose from, etc, is limited in Japan12.4%
Can earn more than in Japan8.8%
No particular reason3.1%
Don’t know0.0%

Q5SQ2: What kind of work are you interested in? (Sample size=421)

Not working in Japan but overseas3.3%
Working in Japan, but focused on overseas8.8%
Focused on Japan, but with several placements overseas35.9%
Focused on Japan, but with one placement overseas24.7%
No particular preferences on the form25.7%
Don’t know1.4%

Q5SQ3: Which countries or regions would you want to work in? (Sample size=421, multiple answer)

Western Europe (France, Germant, UK, etc)43.9%
Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, etc)24.9%
South-east Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, etc), Indian sub-continent (India, Pakistan, etc)20.9%
South Korea12.6%
Central, Eastern Europe, (Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc) Russia10.0%
Central, South America (Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, etc)8.6%
Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, etc)5.5%
Middle-east (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc)4.8%
No particular place I want to work3.1%
Don’t know0.7%

Q5SQ4: What issues do you have regarding working overseas? (Sample size=421, multiple answer)

Public order70.5%
Language ability63.2%
Hygene, sanitation matters37.3%
Family life (education, care, etc)34.7%
Salary prospects27.3%
Getting on with the people at work24.0%
Treatment on returning (promotion, job-seeking, etc problems)22.3%
Relationships with family, relatives11.2%
Relationships with friends11.2%
Transport, communications costs6.4%
No particular issues2.9%
Don’t know0.5%

Q5SQ5: Why are you not interested in working overseas? (Sample size=1,481, multiple answer)

No confidence in my language ability52.3%
Feel unsure about living overseas47.1%
Don’t want to leave family, friends, etc34.6%
Don’t know necessary information regarding working overseas30.9%
No confidence in my physical strength25.8%
Can look forward to a stable income working in Japan23.9%
Family issues such as child-rearing, caring for parents22.2%
No particular reason8.7%
Don’t know0.3%

Q6: Regarding the next generation of workers, do you think they should get experience working overseas while they are still young? (Sample size=1,913)

Yes (to SQ)33.7%
Perhaps (to SQ)40.0%
Perhaps not11.7%
Not at all10.7%
Don’t know3.9%

Q6: What do you think is needed in order for the next generation of workers to get experience working overseas? (Sample size=1,411, multiple answer)

Get language education79.6%
Understand foreign cultures and customs with regard to business manners51.7%
Experience overseas study39.5%
Can use some arrangement for domestic companies to evaluate working overseas34.4%
Get cooperation and understanding of family, others close to them29.4%
Obtain working overseas information on working visa application procedures, social services, etc27.4%
Nothing in particular0.9%
Don’t know0.2%

Next, everyone was shown a card with the following text:

“In order to increase the number of students coming from overseas to study in Japan, the government is promoting that they be employed by domestic companies. Furthermore, with the objective of entering the workforce, the government is also promoting the lengthening, regularising of periods of stay for foreigners in the country, thus the number of foreign workers living in Japan will trend upwards.”

Q7: Did you know that the number of foreign workers is trending upwards? (Sample size=1,913)


Q8: How important are each of the following for foreign workers in Japan? (Sample size=1,913)

Japanese ability

Somewhat important25.2%
Not very important3.4%
Not important at all1.3%
Don’t know1.0%

Understanding of Japanese culture

Somewhat important42.3%
Not very important10.5%
Not important at all2.3%
Don’t know1.7%

Understanding of Japanese customs

Somewhat important42.9%
Not very important7.8%
Not important at all1.6%
Don’t know1.7%

Specialist ability, skill

Somewhat important38.6%
Not very important17.9%
Not important at all5.1%
Don’t know2.7%

Resources such as money in the bank

Somewhat important32.0%
Not very important30.7%
Not important at all18.3%
Don’t know5.9%
Read more on: ,

1 Comment »

  1. September 14, 2010 @ 10:44

    Q8: I would have liked to have seen how opinions here differ with regards to foreigners from different regions of the world. Somehow, I don’t think that opinions towards Chinese workers, for example, are the same as towards the British, for example. ^^

Leave a Comment


1 Trackback \ Ping »

  1. September 15, 2010 @ 12:07

    […] Sorry to double post, but I thought this data has something to do with our conversation: Japanese working overseas, and overseas workers in Japan | 世論 What Japan Thinks Check out Q8 and all of its parts. According to the Japanese surveyed, a foreign worker's Japanese […]