Black Companies in Japan and How to Spot Them | Guidable Japan
black companies in Japan, angry man with table

Black Companies in Japan and How to Spot Them

By Guidable Authors Feb 24, 2021

If you plan to work in Japan, you should keep an eye out for “Black Companies” – the well-known nightmare for every job seeker. In this article, we will provide some basic information about Black Companies in Japan and some tips to help you identify whether one corporation is black or not.

1. What Are Black Companies?

Black companies in Japan, frustrated man

Credits: Andrea Piacquadio

Black Company (ブラック企業, ブラックきぎょう) is a Japanese umbrella term used to imply corporations which operate in a manner exploitative of their employees and have a terrible working environment as well as violate working standards which negatively impact on the employees’ personal life. Working in these black businesses, workers will be likely to suffer from these common symptoms such as little to no overtime pay, power/sexual harassment and little to no work/life balance.

2. Recognizable Surface Signs of a Black Company

Below are some pointers that can help you figure out whether one company is a “black company” or not. Make sure you have read through basic information related to required working hours, payment, paid holidays etc. in the job description.

High Job Turnover Rate

black companies in Japan, angry man with table

Credits: Andrea Piacquadio

The first and most noticeable characteristic of “black businesses” is the constant and strong fluctuation of their personnel. After entering the company for a short time, new employees can not withstand the harsh working environment and quit their jobs. Each time a huge number is recruited, but only a few can adapt to the exploitative working environment, while the rest are under mental pressure leading to self-termination. However, instead of fixing the problems in its working system, the company has the tendency to continue recruiting new people, which leads to the non-stop recruitment cycle.

Of course, not all businesses that recruit regularly and continuously are “black businesses”. That could be because the business has a good growth rate and expanding scale. However, you still need to consider carefully to make the best decision.

A Short Recruitment Process

black companies in Japan, woman at interview

Credits: Tim Gouw

Unlike in other countries, Japan’s recruitment process is not “short and sweet” at all. It often includes many steps with multiple tests and interviews. Therefore, if a company accepts applicants without going through all of those steps, it is likely that this company is black. Especially for international students, it is vital to spend more time on job hunting. There are several cases that some international students ended up working in black companies as the result of following the temptation named “easy job offer” as they only had a few months left before their visa expires.

Abnormally Low or High Pay

Black Company in Japan, Japanese Money


Each industry has a different standardized salary. If the company you apply for offers a number that is significantly lower than average compared to other companies in the same industry, then you have to stay clear of that place as they are not valuing their employees. Besides those companies that offer you abnormally low pay, some companies might offer you a figure that is surprisingly higher than usual pay. Be aware of those companies, too and don’t take it at face value! It might sound appealing at first, but behind that amazing figure are definitely some issues you have not found out yet!

3. How to Identify a Black Company

To know if a business is a “black business” or not, we can find out based on that business’s information. It can be recruitment information about work-life balance policy for employees, pay and benefits, job security & advancement, management, and working culture etc. Beside research based on information divulged by the corporation, there are several ways you can find more clues about a business. We will introduce them.

Business Evaluation Websites

Black companies in Japan business evaluations site check up

Credit: Benjamin Dada

One of the most practical ways to know more about the company that you will apply for is by reading the assessment from its own employees on some business rating websites. There are a lot of such websites on the Internet, called 企業の評判 (きぎょうのひょうばん, company reputation) 、 口コミ (くちこみ, reviews). These websites are a collection of employee assessments of those businesses. The reviews help us best visualize the aspects of the company, from which we can make the best decision for ourselves. Evaluation criteria from these websites are mainly about: income, working hours, paid holiday, strong and weak points of the corporation, working environment/culture, promotion.

These are some business evaluation websites that might be helpful to you:

  • 転職会議: This is a large-scale business evaluation website, with over 2 million members. You can view information of over 600,000 corporations in Japan and the assessments from other members about these corporations.
  • カイシャの評判: This is a business evaluation website operated by a well-known company, エン ・ ジャパン, with over 1 million review comments on businesses. This website is arranged conveniently for applicants to find information about corporations in every aspect.
  • Vorkers: This is a business evaluation website operated by Vorkers Joint Stock Company. More than 50,000 companies evaluated on this website, and in particular, the evaluation criteria are indicated in charts for readers to easily visualize and compare.
  • キャリコネ: Like Vorkers, キャリコ reviews businesses on many aspects and is represented in a chart form.

Awards For Black Companies

Another means of finding out whether one business is black is through the annual Black Company Awards. This annual award was formed by a group of people that included journalists, activists, and university professors in 2012 to raise awareness of black company issues among labourers and expose some exploitative corporations in Japan.

Factors such as long overtime working hours, no overtime pay, harassment and some issues related to exploitative working environments are taken into account when deciding which companies are the winners for the awards. Winners will be announced publicly and receive a copy of the labour law dictionary.

Now You’ve Learnt About Black Companies and How to Spot Them

When applying for a job, we will most likely fall into the black company trap if we do not research carefully. Therefore, it is necessary to equip ourselves with the basic knowledge to avoid black businesses and find ourselves a suitable workplace. Do you have experience working for a black company in Japan? Tell us more in the comments!



Read more here to find out about how to maintain a Japanese work-life balance:

Japanese Work Culture: Overtime Work and a Better Work-life Balance in 2020


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