Deciding to relocate to Japan is a big challenge. There is a big culture shift from the West, both in terms of personal and professional life, and the language is notoriously tricky to pick up. Therefore, with so many things to worry about, attempting to land a job with a stable and established company is a good place to start.
Luckily, in terms of revenue, Japan is home to some of the largest companies, not just in Asia but in the world. While some of them may be unfamiliar, many are household names, with their products and services a firm fixture on our high streets and beyond.
According to the Forbes Global 2000 list, these are the top 10 biggest companies in Japan.
10. Mizuho Financial Group
Market value: $39.8 billion (£31.3 billion)
Global 2000 rank: #125
Created as the result of a merger between three Japanese banks in 2001, the Mizuho Financial Group (MHFG) is a banking holding company headquartered in the capital, Tokyo. It employs over 50,000 people across its 880 offices, covering an array of financial, banking and asset management services.
According to Forbes, it owns assets worth over $1.83 trillion (£1.44 trillion) and made a profit of $4.6 billion (£3.6 billion) in the 2018/2019 financial year. The name Mizuho, meanwhile, translates literally as ‘abundant rice’.
9. Mitsubishi Corporation
Market value: $42.5 billion (£33.4 billion)
Global 2000 rank: #108
One of the four main constituent companies of Mitsubishi, the Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Corporation is Japan’s largest trading company. Highly diversified, it retains numerous business interests across a variety of sectors, including finance, machinery, chemicals and food, while its energy business group (which handles trades and investments in gas and oil) brings in considerable levels of revenue.
Mitsubishi Corporation’s profits in 2018/2019 were around $5.3 billion (£4.2 billion), while it owns assets worth over $150 billion (£117.9 billion).
8. Honda Motor Company
Savvatexture / Depositphotos.com
Market value: $50.5 billion (£39.7 billion)
Global 2000 rank: #76
Since the early 1980s, Japan has been renowned as a mass manufacturer and exporter of automobiles and motorcycles, with the likes of Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan all carving out hugely valuable pieces of the global market.
One of the biggest players on the scene, though, is Honda, which is estimated to be the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. This success has no doubt contributed to the company’s impressive revenues in 2018/2019, with only Toyota making more sales in this period.
Honda has also been active in the manufacturing market in recent years, while it is also becoming increasingly involved in artificial intelligence and robotics research. Overall, it made $6.6 billion (£5.2 billion) worth of profit last year, while its assets are estimated at $180.9 billion (£142.1 billion).
7. Sony Corporation
Market value: $60.1 billion (£47.2 billion)
Global 2000 rank: #73
A multinational conglomerate with stakes in the gaming, entertainment, music and electronics industries (among others), Sony is a household name all over the globe. It’s perhaps best known for its impact in the consumer appliances market – particularly the PlayStation brand – although Sony Pictures, the company’s film studio, is responsible for the Jumanji, Men in Black and Ghostbusters franchises, while Sony Music includes One Direction, Pharrell Williams and the Foo Fighters among its roster.
All these assets are worth a total $190.7 billion (£149.8 billion), while the company made profits of $7.3 billion (£5.7 billion) in 2018/2019.
6. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group
Market value: $50.9 billion (£40 billion)
Global 2000 rank: #67
One of the largest financial institutions in the world, with assets over $1.84 trillion (£1.45 trillion), Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) is a powerhouse of the Japanese banking and finance sector, despite only being founded in 2002. It’s listed on both the Tokyo and New York stock exchanges, and it employs over 70,000 people across its various global offices.
It made profits of $6.6 billion (£5.2 billion) in the last reported year and continues to grow and acquire numerous business divisions.
5. Japan Post Holdings
Market value: $44.5 billion (£35 billion)
Global 2000 rank: #66
Responsible for four key areas of business (including the management of Japan’s mail delivery and post office services), Japan Post Holdings is a diverse conglomerate that also has interests in banking, insurance and logistics.
The Japanese government currently owns around 71% of the company, although there have been numerous proposals intended to privatise it. To date, the Ministry of Finance has made two Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), in 2015 and 2017, which raised a total of $24 billion (£18.9 billion) – much of the 2015 earnings were used for the repair and reconstruction of areas affected by environmental disasters.
The company made profits $4.3 billion (£3.4 billion) in the last reporting year, while its assets are valued at a whopping $2.62 trillion ($2.1 trillion).
4. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone
Market value: $80.2 billion (£63 billion)
Global 2000 rank: #51
In terms of revenue, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, with numerous regional, long-distance and mobile subsidiaries.
Although it is listed on several stock exchanges (including Tokyo, London and New York), NTT is, by law, around a third-owned by the Japanese state. It made profits of around $8.7 billion (£6.8 billion) in the last reporting year, while it holds assets worth around $80.2 billion (£63 billion).
3. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
Market value: $65 billion (£51 billion)
Global 2000 rank: #43
The primary financial arm of the Mitsubishi Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is one of the world’s largest and most powerful banks, obtaining its full title after a 2006 merger with the United Financial of Japan (UFJ) bank.
With assets of around $2.8 trillion (£2.2 trillion), Mitsubishi UFJ is the largest financial group in Japan and is responsible for dozens of asset management, equity and securities companies across the globe. It possesses sizeable holdings in several other financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley in the US, while it also owns shares in Toyota, Nippon and the Chase Bank. It made profits of around $9 billion (£7 billion) in the last reporting year.
2. SoftBank Group
Market value: $112.4 billion (£88.3 billion)
Global 2000 rank: #36
A diverse conglomerate with interests in telecommunications, e-commerce, technology, finance and media, SoftBank Group owns stakes in a wide array of businesses. It was originally founded in 1981 as a computer parts store by budding entrepreneur Masayoshi Son, before expanding considerably throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
The company is renowned for its elaborate marketing schemes, as well as its employee perks and benefits programme (something of a rarity in Japan). In the last reporting year, it made profits of around $13.9 billion (£10.9 billion), while it retains assets worth around $332 billion (£260.9 billion).
1. Toyota Motor Corporation
Market value: $176.6 billion (£138.8 billion)
Global 2000 rank: #15
The second largest car manufacturer in the world (only Germany’s Volkswagen makes more), Toyota Motor Corporation is one of Japan’s most famous success stories, becoming the first company to produce more than 10 million cars in a single year. It is the market leader in hybrid electric vehicles, too, as well as the owner of luxury car brand Lexus.
Based in Toyota City, where the company’s headquarters and manufacturing plants are based, Toyota made profits of $17.2 billion (£13.5 billion) in the last reporting year, off sales of around $272 billion (£213.7 billion) (nearly double its closest Japanese rival Honda). It also holds assets worth around $466 billion (£366.2 billion).
As you can see, if you’re going to find a job in Japan, then these are clearly some of the most successful, stable options to consider – as well as some of the most lucrative. If you are willing to get to grips with the language and the culture shock, then your career in Japan could reach serious heights at one of these employers.
Have you made the move to Japan? What tips would you give? Let us know in the comments below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 5 May 2015.