Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Won't Miss #73 - the gaijin salary myth

Most Japanese people believe that foreigners are lavishly paid. I can't speak to how the myth that we're rolling in yen got started, but I can explain to some extent what it is based on. First of all, foreigners are paid on a monthly basis as are Japanese people. The difference is that many foreigners do not receive twice yearly seasonal bonuses like Japanese people do. In essence, the Japanese get a lower monthly wage, then receive bonuses in the spring and winter of between 1-3 months wages (2 months of wages as a bonus given in each period is common in most companies). That means that, in many cases, a foreigner gets 12 months of wages and a Japanese person gets 16 months of wages, but the Japanese person only compares his monthly salary to the monthly salary of the foreigner. They don't factor bonuses into the equation or look at the annual totals.*

They also do not factor in matching funds from the company for national health insurance premiums or retirement funds which many Japanese workers receive, but most foreigners do not. The truth is that most foreign people are not paid much more than Japanese employees with a similar educational background and in similar working circumstances.

I won't miss the attitude that I'm overpaid and under-worked based on a lot of ignorant assumptions and selective considerations.

*A low monthly wage for a Japanese employee is about 180,000 yen and an average for many English teachers is 250,000 yen. Factoring in bonuses (but ignoring health insurance, pension benefits, or housing supplements), the Japanese employee makes 2,880,000 yen a year and the foreigner would make 3,000,000 yen a year.

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