Is the bonus(incentive) negotiable in Japanese company?

Is the bonus(incentive) negotiable in Japanese company? Many foreigners may be wondering if bonuses, the so-called Short term incentives, can be negotiated. The simple answer is that in the case of traditional Japanese companies, it is very difficult to negotiate the bonus amount.

This is because the bonus payment method is often set by the company and is determined based on your basic wage and personnel evaluation. Of course, if you are dissatisfied with the performance appraisal , you can negotiate about it. However, it will be difficult to negotiate the amount itself. Also, as a characteristic of Japanese companies, your boss does not have much authority. Authority to pay additional amounts is a top-level issue in the Human Resources department and rarely makes individual adjustments.

Japanese Bonus(ボーナス) System

Let me give you an overview of Japan's bonus payments. First of all, Japan is not called an incentive, but a bonus(ボーナス). Legally speaking, bonuses are not rights stipulated by labor law. Therefore, there is no penalty even if the company does not provide it.

According to the practice of large companies, bonuses are paid in two installments, generally in June and December each year.

The bonus paid in June is called the summer bonus, and the bonus in December is called the winter bonus.

However, there seems to be a question, "Many Japanese seem to get a bonus every year, why?" That's right.
This is because many Japanese companies, especially large ones, have customary arrangements between their employers and their employees. It is customary, but this bonus payment is interpreted as a deferred payment of wages.

In companies where trade unions are organized, there are also arrangements with the trade union, so it is not easy to deduct bonuses. Conversely, if the company reduces bonuses, it will be a manager, not a unionist. Therefore, bonus payments are not legally guaranteed, but they are paid as a fairly strong practice.

How to determine the bonus amount in Japan

Since there are no legal standards, each company has different ways to determine bonuses in Japan. The famous way is to decide how many times the basic salary. Often, negotiations with the labor union begin around March in Japan every year, and we hear debates about whether to increase the average bonus level by 3.0 times or 4.0 times.

Japan is very concerned about the bonus payment rate of giant companies like Toyota. It seems that you often decide your own company's payment rate by referring to the payment rate of a major company.

The overall average of Japan will be taken up by the media and announced, but it seems that the bonus average in the summer of 2021 was 439,000 yen, down 6.3% from the previous year.

【まねーぶ調べ】2021年 夏ボーナス調査!平均支給額は43.9万円、昨対比6.3%減|株式会社GVのプレスリリース (

The reason that it is hard to negotiate bonus

Due to such a mechanism, it is very difficult in Japan to decide whether or not to pay bonuses individually and the amount.

Even if you individually negotiate with your boss, "I have achieved in this term, please raise the amount!", It is usually difficult. Of course, I think it is possible for a small company with a few employees, but it is difficult for many SMEs and large companies to negotiate.

If you want to increase the bonus amount, it is a good idea to change jobs to an industry or company with a good overall bonus level.

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