A blog on working, living in Japan.

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White Companies - The Japanese Companies to Work for


In Japan, the term ‘black company’ (ブラック企業) gets thrown around a lot. What’s a black company? Wikipedia defines it as a bad company that is not recommended to work at. Curiously enough, the english translation for it is sweatshop, which is a simplistic way to think about it. It brings up the image of overworked, stressed-out, underpaid salarymen in suits huddled around desks in a smoky room. The longer explanation is, it’s a company that forces work that conflicts with the law, particularly with labor laws.

For you to better recognize a black company, here are several symptoms that is commonly found in such companies:

  • Long, excessive hours. Over 80-100 hours per week is a common symptom.

  • Low pay, and unpaid overtime (サービス残業).

  • Rampant harassment, whether it’s psychological, sexual, or physical harassment.

  • Heavy discrimination. Particularly towards anyone that are not viewed as a ‘team player’, such as: women, foreigners, people who actually want a social life, etc.

  • High employee turnover rate. What constitutes as 'high', is dependent on the type of industry.

This phenomena has been covered time and time again in various articles.

Simply put, you don't want to be in that situation. If you are ever in such a situation, talk to your HR department, and get help. Here's also a link to a help hotline for foreigners working in Japan: https://www.telljp.com/

Now, the good thing is, some Japanese companies are actively going against this dark image and gain a reputation for exactly the opposite. Naturally enough, these companies are called ‘white companies’ (ホワイト企業). Showa Women’s University recently released the results of their research (https://content.swu.ac.jp/jyobunken-blog/), which contain their 2013 list of ‘white companies’. In particular, these companies scored high on providing a positive environment for women. They focused on 2 specific industries, namely: banking and service. Here’s the list:


  1. Mitsubishi-UFJ Financial Group (三菱UFJファイナンシャル・グループ)

  2. Seven Bank (セブン銀行)

  3. Mitsui-Sumitomo Financial Group (三井住友ファイナンシャルグループ)

  4. Aozora Bank (あおぞら銀行)

  5. The 77 Bank (七十七銀行)

  6. Kiyo Holdings (紀陽ホールディングス)

  7. The Tokyo Star Bank (東京スター銀行)

  8. The Yachiyo Bank (八千代銀行)

  9. The Shiga Bank (滋賀銀行)

  10. The Hachijuni Bank (八十二銀行)


  1. Dentsu (電通) (Advertising / Marketing)

  2. Planet Inc. (株式会社プラネット) (PR / Marketing)

  3. Kabuki-za (歌舞伎座) (Entertainment / Kabuki)

  4. Universal Studios Japan (ユー・エス・ジェイ) (Entertainment / Amusement Park)

  5. Nippon Koei (日本工栄) (Technology consulting)

  6. Miraca Holdings (みらかホールディングス) (Clinical examinations)

  7. Oriental Land (オリエンタルランド) (Entertainment / Amusement Park)

  8. Asatsu-DK / ADK (アサツー ディ・ケイ) (Advertising / Marketing)

  9. Rakuten (楽天) (Internet / E-commerce)

  10. Ina Research (イナリサーチ) (Clinical studies)

Recognition for companies that promote a healthy working environment should definitely be encouraged, and I hope to see more of such news.

Photo credit: Hector Garcia