Working in Tokyo?
Working in Tokyo
Expats working in Tokyo participate in one of the largest metropolitan economies across the globe. According to a study by the Brookings Institution, the city created an annual domestic product of over 1.6 trillion USD in 2015. Despite the preceding worldwide financial crisis, the earthquake of 2011, and the recession Japan was recently facing, Tokyo’s economy largely remains the powerhouse of the country.
Beyond the city limits of Metropolitan Tokyo, the Kantō Region around Tokyo is Japan’s most urbanized and industrialized area. The people working in Tokyo and other cities of Kantō-chihō make a sizable contribution to Japan’s economic power. In 2016, the Cabinet Office published a list comparing the 2013 GDP of various OECD and ASEAN member states, as well as BRICS countries, to that of Japan’s prefectures and regions — the Kantō Region had a higher gross domestic product than India, Canada, or Australia.
The Current Economic Situation
It’s nothing new to note that the Japanese economy is not as strong as it once was. After the boom years of the 1980s, Japan’s economy slumped, resulting in a lack of growth and a so-called “lost decade”. As the first decade of the new millennium drew to a close, Japan’s economy was gaining in strength, but both the 2007/08 Financial Crisis and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster in 2011 hindered its progress. Japan’s nuclear industry has collapsed since the disaster and out of the 50 nuclear plants that once operated on the island, only two have reopened.
Following his reelection, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe introduced his revolutionary economic program, popularly dubbed “Abenomics”. Focusing on extensive quantitative easing, by printing more money and buying bonds from financial institutions in an attempt to stimulate growth, such an approach has never been used to this extent before. It is yet to be seen whether it will be able to successfully restart Japan’s economy.
At the moment, the policy seems to be moderately successful: the GDP grew by 0.9% in 2016, and the OECD expects another estimated 1.0% growth for 2017. It’s hoped that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will also revitalize Japan’s economic state, with construction projects and the tourism industry benefitting in particular from the games.
Expatriates interested in working in Tokyo have a huge advantage if they are employed in one of Japan’s growth sectors. Reflecting both the challenges of Japan’s aging population and the nation’s vanguard position with regard to sophisticated technology, certain fields are relevant for foreign employees. Medical technology and the healthcare sector, industrial design and brand marketing catering to “silver” consumers, and the life sciences offer employment opportunities for highly qualified staff.
Finding a Job in the Kantō Region
Anyone keen on working in Tokyo or its neighboring cities might also find a job if they bring professional experience in more traditional industries. Yokohama, Tokyo’s neighbor to the south, is especially strong in the international shipping business — small wonder for a busy port city. Quite a few expats thus found themselves moving to Yokohama instead, about a 25-minute commute from Tokyo’s central wards.
Apart from Yokohama, working in Tokyo could mean relocating to places such as Kawasaki or Saitama, too. Squeezed between Tokyo and Yokohama, the former is not only home to several well-known brand names from the field of high-tech (e.g. Fujitsu or Toshiba), but also a regional center for Tokyo’s heavy industry. For example, JFE Holdings, one of the country’s largest steel production companies, still owns the regional Keihin Works in Kawasaki and runs a local research lab there as well.
Or if you don’t mind working in Tokyo’s northern environs, you could settle in Saitama as well. It is an important regional hub for food production, the manufacturing of car parts and optical goods, environmental engineering, and the pharmaceutical industry.
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