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 Forbes’ Global 2000 list, these are the top 10 biggest companies in Japan.
10. Mitsubishi Corporation
Market value: $41.6 billion
Global rank: #112
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 2021 were around $3.1 billion, while it owns assets worth over $179.7 billion.
Market value: $72.1 billion
Global rank: #106
Kokisai Denshin Denwa was founded in 1953 as a state-owned enterprise. KDDI in its current form was formed in 2000, following the merger of KDD with DDI Corp and IDO Corp. The telecommunications giant, which is headquartered in Tokyo, made $6.2 billion in profits from $49.3 billion in sales in 2021.
The company’s brands include au by KDDI (the second-largest wireless carrier in Japan, with over 60.4 subscribers), au HIKARI, and FIFTH, while the KDDI Group operates in a variety of sectors, including finance, media, marketing, and education.
8. Japan Post Holdings
Market value: $34.8 billion
Global rank: #87
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.
In April 2021, the Japanese government had a 57% ownership stake in the company, which became fully privatized by the end of the year, though the Japanese government still holds the largest stock share in the company.
Japan Post Holdings made profits of $4.2 billion from $106.6 billion in sales in the last reporting year, while its assets are valued at a whopping $2.9 trillion.
7. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group
Market value: $48.9 billion
Global rank: #85
One of the largest financial institutions in the world, with assets over $2.2 trillion, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group 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 86,400 people across its various global offices.
It made profits of $4.9 billion in the last reported year and continues to grow and acquire numerous business divisions.
6. Honda Motor
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Market value: $52.8 billion
Global rank: #82
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 2021, amounting to $121.8 billion.
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 $3.9 billion worth of profit last year, while its assets are estimated at $201.3 billion.
5. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
Market value: $69.7 billion
Global rank: #52
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 United Financial of Japan.
With assets of over $3.4 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 $5.2 billion in the last reporting year.
4. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone
Market value: $96.7 billion
Global rank: #43
In terms of revenue, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone 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 $8.3 billion against $110.3 in revenue in the last reporting year, while it holds assets worth around $231.1 billion.
Market value: $137.3 billion
Global rank: #35
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), while its film studio, Sony Pictures, is responsible for the Jumanji, Men in Black and Ghostbusters franchises. Sony Music, meanwhile, includes the likes of One Direction, Céline Dion, and the Foo Fighters among its roster.
All these assets are worth a total of $250.7 billion, while the company made profits of $10.1 billion in 2021 from $79.7 billion in sales.
Market value: $163.1 billion
Global rank: #27
A diverse conglomerate with interests in telecommunications, e-commerce, technology, finance and media, SoftBank 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 program (something of a rarity in Japan). In the last reporting year, it made profits of around $14.9 billion, while it retains assets worth around $366.7 billion.
1. Toyota Motor
Market value: $219.2 billion
Global 2000 rank: #12
The second largest car manufacturer in the world (only Germany’s Volkswagen makes more), Toyota Motor 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 maintains its position as the largest company in Japan. Toyota made profits of $14.3 billion in the last reporting year, off sales of around $249.4 billion, and holds assets worth around $561.9 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 employers to consider. If you’re 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 top companies.
Join the conversation! Are you surprised that the likes of Hitachi and Panasonic didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments section below.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on 28 June 2019.