The process so far:

Background: I'm a Software Developer from the UK but I live in Japan. I'm still currently employed in Japan and the current position is stable. I am applying through a recruiter for this position.

Interview: During the initial interview he asked what kind of salary I would expect. There was no salary information on the job advert and the recruiter didn't mention anything so I gave a number around what I saw from other adverts from the recruiter for software development roles (NOT consulting) at my level (around ¥5,000,000 -¥6,000,000). I asked for ¥6,000,000 to which he said he would be fine to take me for the position at that salary and said he would schedule me to go through the formal recruiting/interview process (so not a formal job offer (yet?)). I'm still kind of new in Japan and I didn't really know what the average salary was for that kind of position.

I had an interview scheduled very quickly with the Senior Manager. He also asked me what my expected salary was; I said the same as before in the first interview ¥6,000,000. He then asked what would be the minimum I would expect. I didn't expect that question (Edit:Definitely due lack of preparation on my part as others pointed out). So I said the figure of ¥5,000,000. His face seemed surprised but he didn't say anything.

I was asked to come for a final interview with a partner of the company who also leads that entire division. The interview is scheduled for next week so I haven't had it yet. But I couldn't help but think about the reaction on the Senior Manager's face. So I looked up online to find what the average salary was for that position is at that organisation in Japan. It turns out it is a little over ¥7,000,000. Which is higher than what I said for my expected salary and much higher than the minimum I said.

The questions:

Although I haven't been given a formal offer yet, since I have the final interview next week:

  • If I'm asked about expected/minimum salary is it OK to bring up the information I found and change my expected/minimum salary offer to be closer to the average?
  • If I'm not even asked then should I ask what is the average salary as a question at the end and bring it up then?
  • If I get a formal offer afterwards is it OK to negotiate that based on the information I found? Edit: <-- Answered Here thanks to gnat in the comments.
  • How do I even negotiate that through a recruiter?

Edit: I was provided with a possible duplicate here. It was certainly useful at answering some of my questions but I haven't been given a formal offer yet since I still have 1 more interview to go in the process, I definitely realized I messed up getting much higher when I said the low end figure but I want to know if I should mention the information I found in the next interview before I'm given a formal offer, and also change what I want my expected/minimum salary to be.

Edit: TLDR - I am a non-Japanese working in Japan who mentioned my expected salary during the interview process only to find the average for that role at that organisation was higher than I expected. There is still 1 more interview to go. Should I mention this information and is it OK to do so? This is mostly a general question but if there is any advice specifically related to Japan then that would also be greatly appreciated.

  • @gnat Thanks for providing that! It was definitely some useful insight :). I don't feel it answers all my questions because my situation is different. Sep 7, 2019 at 12:14
  • TLDR, but I'd say it's a pretty good lesson for the future to always be prepared for this question and do the research, I usually add on another 5-10% as, if you're only out by that much, they will usually come back with the lower offer.
    – Gamora
    Sep 9, 2019 at 10:45
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    @Bee Thanks for mentioning that, I'll remember that advice for the future. I also cut out some necessary parts (I think) to shorten the question and also added a TLDR to help busy bees like yourself. :) I hope it's more useful now. Sep 9, 2019 at 14:17

3 Answers 3


You can ask. What happens depends on the company.

The best salary (from the company's point of view) is one that's not too costly, but high enough that you don't leave just because someone else pays more. If they pay 7 million Yen and you stay for five years, that's much more cost effective than paying 6 million and you leave after 6 months. Or you stay for two years, but do just the minimum amount of work you can get away with because you feel underpaid.

So in that situation, if they feel that you asked for a lower salary because you are new to the country and don't know what a reasonable salary would be for the position, they might even make an offer higher than the six million Yen you asked for. For the reasons above, plus it will instill quite a bit of loyalty in the new employee.

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    I'd be sure to emphasize not understanding local costs associated with the position. When I was looking to move I made sure I had a complete understanding of the local costs. I've since learned that the taxes where I live are slightly higher, but not enough to have made a difference because I was fairly thorough in my preparations. ALWAYS do your cost of living and salary requirements BEFORE final salary negotiation. Sep 7, 2019 at 20:17

Normally those numbers are communicated to the managers before you're in the interview, so it would be very hard to come back and change them after the fact without some solid reason. You also don't have many options to play too much hardball (pretending you got an offer you'd like them to match) because of how everything is done through recruiters here.

If they like you'll they'll draft up the work agreement (内定) which is going to have the salary written in stone on it by that point - I think you'd be pretty hard done by to change it after that point.

You essentially have to ask if this is that big a deal - you weren't bothered before you found out the other number, and you can't be certain you would have even been invited in had you stipulated the higher number from the start.

You should look up how big the company's raises are and how big your bonus will be if you're going to be seishain. Lots of companies in Japan give measly 10,000-30,000 raises every year, so figure out how long it would take you to get back up to that number.

If you really wouldn't be happy and you're not too attached to this position I'd say just go for the straight ask. The job market for engineers in Tokyo right now is booming and, assuming you're worth your salt, you should be able to find a number of offers pretty easily.

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    Depending on the company, and how much they want you, you can get the number on a 内定 changed through negotiation. I do think it is better to have that discussion done before the 内定 is drafted though. Sep 9, 2019 at 6:33
  • @さりげない告白 Based on the other's advice I think I am going to ask anyway. But it seems that once a 内定 is received then that's pretty much it. I asked some Japanese friends and what they said seems to be along the lines of what Toby said; The negotiations usually happen before the 内定 draft. Once it is received then either accept the offer and receive a 採用通知書 or reject the offer. Sep 9, 2019 at 13:35
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    @CasualUser24 For traditional companies, they very well may not revise a 内定 after it is given. For newer/smaller less traditional companies, they are usually more flexible with this process. If you have a skillset that they want, then there are places that would revise it for you. I've had a company raise my salary by 1,000,000 yen, and change the work location from the original 内定 once, so it isn't unheard of. Of course, this is an exception to the rule. Sep 10, 2019 at 0:30

is it OK to negotiate that based on the information I found?

Until you accept an offer everything is still up for negotiation. You can pull a number out of your hat if you want.

The danger is you may be rejected for changing the numbers.

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