Comments (10)

Oct 17, 2012

Unfortunately it's quite normal these days.

I've been with a Japanese brokerage firm for over a decade, and when I started back around 2000 we new grads made Y300,000 per month, or Y3,600,000 per year, which was about $30,000. Since then, as unemployment has climbed, starting salaries have drifted down to the Y250k/mo range.

And you'll be putting in the same 14-hour days that you would in the US... without the satisfaction of getting rich.

The silver lining is that rents on those tiny Tokyo apartments are downright cheap these days. You don't see too many apartments as small as 200 square feet in the US, but in Japan they're standard, and today you can still rent one for under $1000 even within a 30-minute train ride of the center of the city (Otemachi area). With a Japanese broker there's a 95% chance you'll be in Tokyo, but the farther you get from Tokyo, the cheaper rents get.

Oct 17, 2012
Joralemon:

The silver lining is that rents on those tiny Tokyo apartments are downright cheap these days. You don't see too many apartments as small as 200 square feet in the US, but in Japan they're standard, and today you can still rent one for under $1000 even within a 30-minute train ride of the center of the city (Otemachi area). With a Japanese broker there's a 95% chance you'll be in Tokyo, but the farther you get from Tokyo, the cheaper rents get.

No sir that is not a silver lining

Oct 17, 2012
Joralemon:

Unfortunately it's quite normal these days.

I've been with a Japanese brokerage firm for over a decade, and when I started back around 2000 we new grads made Y300,000 per month, or Y3,600,000 per year, which was about $30,000. Since then, as unemployment has climbed, starting salaries have drifted down to the Y250k/mo range.

And you'll be putting in the same 14-hour days that you would in the US... without the satisfaction of getting rich.

And I was hoping this might be some kind of mistake. The Japanese recruits wouldn't really have any other choice, but do they realize that the Japanese economic situation is entirely irrelevant when recruiting foreigners? Why would an American in his right mind take a job in Tokyo, one of the most expensive cities in the world, paying just $30k/year?

And like ERGOHOC said, the 200 sq ft apartments aren't exactly a silver lining...

Oct 17, 2012

^^ haha no, not really.

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

Oct 18, 2012

@Murano-san -- I'd say you'd take the job because you'd expect it to lead to something better. In my case, at a US-Japan joint venture, I had no idea how ridiculous the hours were going to be, and went in hoping that it would lead to me becoming a Japan-specialist analyst at the American home office after a few years. (I wasn't a business major -- science/Japanese with some econ on the side -- so I was coming into the industry from an oblique angle.)

The problem is that at a purely-Japanese company, the 14-hour days, the ordinary salary, the inability to direct one's own career, and the bullying from superiors never stop until you're maybe 30 or so.

So someone taking this Nomura position would be using it as a stepping stone to something else. My advice would be to try to avoid overtime from day one, keep yourself well-rested and ready to absorb knowledge (including language, if you don't have it already), and parlay the experience into some real money a few years down the line somewhere else.

@small apartment detractors -- Hold on a minute: in prime Manhattan you cannot get your own apartment for under $1000 because apartments of a size that would rent that cheaply don't exist. You're stuck renting a 600-SF, $3000/mo place and sharing with two roommates.

Same square footage per person, sure, but who wants to share with roommates when you're working long hours and they might not be? You'll get home at 11 PM or midnight and want to go to sleep the instant you get home, and maybe the first few times they'll humor you and be quiet, but eventually you butt heads with the fact that sometimes your housemates want to drink and party and you, needing every possible extra second for sleep, don't have the luxury for that. And not getting paid enough to live centrally means that the commute is a sleep-depriving killer.

Getting my own place helped me a ton, but what helped even more was moving in with my GF, who (being Japanese, and understanding the salaryman's plight) would wait until 11 PM to eat dinner, and have it cooked for me when I got home, so that I could eat, hop in the bath, and go to sleep immediately.

Without her I would have given up. The only thing more exhausting than long hours: long hours spent speaking a foreign language the entire time, and with superiors who will nitpick your every irregularity. It was an almost military-like experience. And I'm very glad it's over.

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Oct 18, 2012
Joralemon:

I wasn't a business major -- science/Japanese with some econ on the side -- so I was coming into the industry from an oblique angle.

I'm in a similar situation - engineering/Japanese (and study abroad experience in Japan), so I certainly have the option of transitioning into another field in the future. But how feasible is that in a foreign country? The new company has to sponsor you for a visa, and how willing would they be to do so?

Given my engineering background, Rakuten would be a more remunerative option ($45k/year), but it also has a reputation as a buratukuHui She (sweatshop). And that still doesn't change the fact that a software job in SF or NY would net me $80k/year no problem.

Oct 18, 2012

@Murano -- The old visa guidelines were a minimum salary of Y=250k per month, but Immigration hasn't been too strict on that, so you'd still get sponsored if a big firm like Nomura hired you but offered you less than the already-low benchmark. Once you get your first visa, changing jobs is trivial, because your visa isn't tied to your job; it's tied to your continuing ability to earn over the minimum (and pay taxes on that salary).

So someone doing the Nomura thing would make the bog-standard $30k in his first year, then change jobs. When the visa comes up for renewal you go to Immigration and fill in your new employer, Immigration checks this out, and you get a new 1-year (probably; subsequent renewals can be 3 or 5) visa and you're on your way with the new company.

buratukuHui She is a harsh term for Rakuten! Compensation there may be low by American standards, but they have time cards and a shift system and won't work their employees to exhaustion like a lot of traditional Japanese firms will. $45k, yes, but for 40-50 hours a week, tops. And if your Japanese is good-but-not-great (JLPT level 2, say), Rakuten's "English-ization" is right up your alley, as everybody has at least some English (and you can make yourself very valuable to your peers by helping them with their English presentations; don't discount this).

Oct 18, 2012

Not to slightly get off topic, but does anyone know the salaries of front office roles (IB or S&T) of bulge brackets in Japan?

Nov 7, 2012

Did anyone apply for the position and proceed to 2nd round (on site)?

Nov 15, 2012
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