The real reasons why Japanese companies don’t want to hire women in 30s

My coworkers in America ask me if I would ever move back to Japan. My answer is “Not anytime soon.” Then people who don’t know much about Japan often ask if I would have a much better chance of getting a better job.

Are you kidding me? That is my real response.

Forget about getting a “better” job because I don’t even know if I would get a permanent career job that comes with full benefits as a woman in my 30s. Because of its rigid employment system, Japanese women are often forced to choose between their careers and starting a family. Japanese corporate environment isn’t easy because it’s often male-dominated and you need to work a lot of overtime hours. You might have seen exhausted Japanese salarymen (corporate employees) sleeping on the train. It isn’t realistic to expect women to put in the same hours while taking care of their family.

The Japanese government has been trying to have women return to work as the country is facing serious decline in population. I am hopeful that the country will be able to create a better environment for working mothers in Japan. But I don’t know how long it will take.

Sadly, the reality is that Japanese women in 30s and over face a lot of prejudice when they look for a regular office job in corporate environment in Japan.

These are the reasons why Japanese companies are reluctant to hire these women.

1. If they are single, they are likely to marry and leave.

Japanese working women often resign from their positions or convert to part-time once they get married and have children. Unless it is a temporary job, they don’t want people to start a job and leave within a year or so.

2. Prejudice toward single Japanese women.

Unfortunately, Japanese society still holds the traditional value. The unmarried women in their 30s and above are often subject to discrimination. It doesn’t make much sense but traditionally, Japanese women are expected to married before they will turn a certain age.

3. Japanese companies want someone fresh. Women in their 30s and above have their own styles of working. 

Japanese companies fear these women wouldn’t get along with other existing female employees because older women tend to have their own styles of working and younger employees may feel uncomfortable having to train older women.

4. It costs more money for the company hire these women.

This isn’t limited to companies in Japan but the more experience people get as they age, the more money the companies have to pay. If they could just hire smart new graduates or young professionals for less money, why would any company hire these women?

5. Japanese employment system is still rigid. 

Employment system is still very rigid in Japan. It is generally difficult for people to move from one company to another for a good permanent position. You can always get a temporary job without benefits but it isn’t the same as a permanent career position. Women in 30s and above are essentially disadvantaged for this reason.


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