No, it is not a joke, the Japanese financial year starts on April 1. It is the most important day for a Japanese entering the workforce, because it is rather unthinkable to get hired at a different time during the year, plus changing then later onto a different executive track at a Japanese company is very unlikely. In contrast foreign companies in Japan mostly do not follow the same practice and welcome experienced professionals later in their career, but overall for newcomers the starting day is the same.
Now with the global financial crisis the number of newly employeed salaryman has decreased. About 20% of the graduates are without a job according to “The Economist”. The only alternative is temporary or part-time jobs, which do not offer job security, training and the common biannual bonuses. Most likely the salary is as little as 40% of a regular employee’s pay. Not everything is bleak in Japan: Monthly wages have increased in January 2010 for the first time in almost two years, altough solely by 0.1%.
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤）