Updated February 20, 2024

[Updated 2024] Software Developer Salaries in Japan: The Ultimate Guide


Eric Turner

Founder of Japan Dev

I worked as a software developer in Japan for 7 years and loved it.

Most developers I know seem to enjoy it too. They work at modern startups or global companies, they earn good money and they're pretty happy.

And yet, visit any online community about Japan and you might never know people like us existed. Because there's an enormous amount of negativity and misinformation out there when it comes to Japan's IT industry. And as someone who genuinely enjoyed working here, I find that disheartening.

In a previous post, I shared my best tips on finding foreigner-friendly tech companies. And now I'd like to drill down on one of the biggest sources of contention when it comes to IT jobs in Japan: salaries.

In this guide, I'll share the most relevant salary resources (1,000+ data points!) for developers in Japan. Then, I'll synthesize the data into actionable salary ranges for every career level.

Average salary for developer jobs in Japan

Let's start by looking at the overall average for software engineering jobs in Japan.

This data is easy to find. In fact, if you search google you'll find countless resources claiming to know the average salary of software engineers in Japan. Let's look at some examples.

Glassdoor says the average is 7 million yen. Payscale says it's a lot lower: 4.9 million.

A survey from Japanese service DODA found it to be 4.6 million. Heikin nenshu says the average for "system engineers" is 5 million.

Quick aside: I'll use Japanese yen throughout this guide for simplicity. Exchange rates fluctuate, so any conversion I attempt would be outdated quickly. 10M JPY means "10 million yen".

Glassdoor's a bit of an outlier here, but it looks like the figures converge at around 5 to 5.5 million yen. This is for all experience levels, so we can assume averages for new grads to be lower (maybe 3-4 million?) while more experienced engineers will earn a bit more (6-7 million?).

I believe this value is mostly accurate when applied to Japan as a whole.

The problem with averages

The problem with relying on this data is simple. It's not relevant for foreigners.

Only one in ~48 people in Japan is non-Japanese. And the majority of those come from the surrounding Asian countries, so if you're from anywhere else you're even more rare than that. That means being a foreigner here puts you in a very small minority.

What about engineers specifically? A recent report from Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare found that there are 52,038 foreigners working in the IT industry in Japan.

Another government report says that in 2019 there are 1,045,512 people working in IT overall, which means the foreigner percentage of IT workers is actually a bit higher than the average for the general population. But it's still only 5%.

It's clear that the foreign population represents a small portion of the data behind macro-level statistics like average IT salaries in Japan. So I'd argue that there's pretty much no point in looking at them if you're a foreigner. In other words, don't let the average hold you back.

Because for better or worse, foreign engineers in Japan are unique.

Working in Japan as a foreigner

Being a foreigner in Japan makes you an exception.

The average non-Japanese engineer in Japan has followed a very different path to end up at their job than a Japanese engineer, and this impacts salaries.

Companies in Japan don't hire foreign developers without a good reason. Bringing someone over from abroad is usually a bigger commitment than hiring a Japanese developer. We're more likely to incur extra costs like visa sponsorship and relocation assistance. We're much less likely to speak Japanese well or understand the subtleties of Japanese culture, and there's a chance we'll give up and move back to our home country.

Hiring a foreigner is a liability. It's taking a risk, and most companies don't take risks like that without a good reason.

Japan's IT industry is... unique

The distribution of IT jobs done by foreigners is different from that of Japanese engineers.

Historically, IT in Japan has been a different beast than in many other countries. They have unique positions like "SE" (system engineer) and a higher prominence of "SIers" (system integrators). There are fewer "in-house" engineers hired directly by companies so attitudes towards IT are different than places like the US.

Foreigners also tend to have different educational backgrounds.

For example, only 23% of Japanese engineers have related college degrees, compared to 72% for Indians and 44% of Americans. In the US (where I'm from), Computer Science is a top major that pays some of the highest salaries for new grads.

But in Japan, it's still not as popular and the average salaries of CS graduates are pretty average. Plus as foreigners, we're more likely to work at established, international companies and much less likely to work at small domestic startups (which tend to pay a bit less).

So how does this impact salaries?

It's difficult to quantify, but one Japanese blogger says that companies should expect to pay an extra 1M JPY/year to hire a foreign developer over their Japanese counterpart at the same skill level. I have no idea if that's accurate, but anecdotally, I've found that foreign developers earn a bit more on average (I'll show some data to support this assertion in the next section).

And I think this makes sense when you consider the scarcity of foreigners here combined with the exceptional circumstances that tend to precede our hiring.

Alright, so country-wide salary data isn't relevant for foreign engineers. In that case, where should you go to find salary ranges?


Japan developer salary resources

What follows is a data dump of resources with 25+ resources composing over 1,000 salary data points. Hopefully it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the ranges I present below really are achievable.

Keep in mind that not all of these include bonus and stock incentives, and many are aimed at Japanese developers.

I won't provide specifics about every data point, but they should all be for software development roles or similar (e.g. backend, front-end, dev ops, iOS/Android, ML, data science etc).

I'll provide links, so I highly recommend checking them out for more details.

1. Opensalary.jp

Opensalary.jp is awesome. It's a database of salary data uploaded anonymously by tech professionals in Japan.

It's got 800+ data points, plus statistics broken down by company and years of experience. This data is super useful for getting an idea of the range for your chosen position.

Here are a few examples of salary data points:

Company Salary
Overall median compensation 8.1M JPY
Google Japan 22M JPY
Wovn Planet 14M JPY
Indeed 10.8M JPY
Amazon JP 10.5M JPY
SmartNews 13M JPY
Mercari 11M JPY
Rakuten 7.6M JPY

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. I highly recommend checking out Opensalary.jp to see all of the data.

It's one of the best resources there is for salary data in Japan.

2. Japan Dev

Excuse the plug (I built this one)... but Japan Dev has confirmed salary ranges for 100+ jobs.

Here are a few examples:

Company Job Salary
KOMOJU Site Reliability Engineer 10M - 14M JPY
Socious Lead Developer 10M - 20M JPY
Scoville Full-stack Web Engineer 8M - 11M JPY
PayPay Backend Engineer 6.5M - 15M JPY
Money Forward Engineering Manager 9M - 13M JPY
Zeals Machine Learning Engineer Up to 11M JPY
Lunaris Full Stack Engineer 5M to 9M JPY

I verified 100% of these directly with the companies, so I can personally guarantee their accuracy.

Check out the Japan Dev Jobs Page for more jobs like these — and be sure to try the salary filters!

3. TokyoDev Developer Survey

Every year, Paul from TokyoDev releases a developer survey for Japan.

He shares insights on salaries based on hundreds of survey responses. The focused on English-speaking developers in Japan, so I recommend taking a look.

Here are some examples of median salary based on role:

Job Type Salary
Overall median 8.5M JPY
Engineering manager 13.5M JPY
Machine Learning Specialist 9.1M JPY
Mobile Developer 6.1M JPY
Back-end Developer 10.2M JPY
Cloud Infrastructure Engineer 9.5M JPY

Search for the latest "TokyoDev Developer Survey" to view all the data and insights.

4. Levels.fyi

Levels.fyi has tech salary data for the whole world. The amount of Japan data is limited, but it can be a great resource for big companies like Google.

It's one of the few sites that break down compensation by base salary, stock, and bonus. It should help you get a feel for the ranges at top-paying companies in Japan.

Search for Japan (or Tokyo) to filter the data. Here are some data points for Japan:

Company Salary
Indeed 10M - 39M JPY
Google 10M - 34M JPY
Microsoft 10.8M - 32.5M JPY
nVidia 10.8M - 11.4M JPY
Rakuten 5M - 11.8M JPY
Mozilla 24.3M JPY
Niantic 12.5M JPY
Goldman Sachs 10M - 30M JPY
Woven Planet Group 8M - 24M JPY
Apple 16M - 32.1M JPY
Amazon 10.6M - 20.9M JPY

5. Blind

Blind is another great resource.

Sign up with your company email and you'll get access to a vast database of salary information.

Again, there's some great Japan content here but you need to search.

Here are a few data points I found (can't link to them so you'll have to trust me... or make an account yourself):

Company Salary
Niantic 30M JPY
DoorDash 20M JPY
Mercari 21M JPY

Some pretty impressive numbers here...

Blind is another great way to understand the ranges for top-tier international companies. And you can ask questions in their forums to connect with a network of developers.

6. Wellfound (formerly known as Angel List)

Wellfound's job board has a pretty good selection of companies in Japan.

It's focused on startups, and many of the positions include salary ranges. Here are a few examples of ranges from Wellfound:

Company Job Salary
Mujin Computer Vision Engineer 7M - 15M JPY
Rapyuta Robotics Site Reliability Engineer 7M - 9M JPY
Scalar Software Engineer 7M - 10M JPY
Crafter Python Developer 4.5M - 8M JPY
Street Academy Tech Lead 6.5M - 9.5M JPY

7. Official Company Career Pages

When I first moved to Japan, it was pretty rare for companies to share salaries in job descriptions.

Luckily for us, this has gotten a lot more common in the past few years. Here are some salary data points from companies who share them publicly:

Company Salary
ZooKeep 4M - 7M JPY
Jamm 7M - 12M JPY
Givery 5M - 12M JPY
Money Forward 5.8M - 13M JPY

8. [JA] Project COMP

Project COMP is like Opensalary.jp, but it's targeted toward Japanese developers.

They force you to sign up to view the data — and I recommend it — but here's a sneak peek:

Company Salary
Mercari 11.4M JPY
Rakuten 7.4M JPY
Google Japan 21M JPY

As you can see, pretty similar values to the above... definitely some patterns emerging. It looks like top Japanese companies like Mercari pay around 10M - 11M JPY in the average case. But then there are a few outliers paying 15M - 25M JPY (or more).

Check out Project COMP for more salary data, including breakdowns by years of experience.

9. [JA] OpenMoney.jp

OpenMoney.jp is yet another new Japanese salary aggregation service.

It's not focused on developers, so the median salary data skews lower than other services that do. But there's still some useful data to be found.

They require you to enter your own info to sign up to access the data. But here are a few examples:

Company Salary
Amazon 12M JPY
Rakuten 7.7M JPY
CyberAgent 7.8M JPY
Softbank 7M JPY

This site also contains some more unique info for each person like age, amount of savings and more.

Check out OpenMoney.jp for more data on hundreds of companies.

10. [JA] Findy

Findy is a cool service.

Their site's in Japanese, but it analyzes your Github profile to give you an expected salary range. They also match you with jobs based on your score.

I like it because there are so many data points, and many of them are for companies that most foreigners have never heard of.

And yet, many of them have competitive salary ranges. Findy's data shows that it's not just a few companies paying 10M JPY and up... it's way more common than you might think.

Company Salary
Ubie 6M - 12M JPY
GA Technologies 4M - 10M JPY
Medley 6M - 15M JPY
SmartHR 4M - 10.8M JPY
Repro 6M - 12M JPY
Open8 4.7M - 7M JPY
Kokopelli 5M - 9M JPY
Freee 5M - 12M JPY
LinQ, Ltd 9M - 15M JPY
Port Inc. 8M - 12M JPY
Insight Edge 6M - 10M JPY
Progate 12M - 15M JPY
Commmune 8.8M - 13M JPY
Money Forward 9M - 20M JPY

Create an account with your Github account to see your personalized offers.

Or learn more about the company behind Findy HERE.

11. [JA] OpenWork

OpenWork (AKA "Vorkers") is the closest equivalent to the Japanese Glassdoor.

Their database is massive, and it contains info on salary range, work-life-balance and more. It's in Japanese, and they require you to either write a review yourself or pay a monthly fee to join... but here are some data points I grabbed previously that show the range at some well-known companies:

Company Salary
Google 16M JPY
Microsoft 12M JPY
Amazon (AWS) 9.6M JPY
Mercari 8.5M JPY
Carta Holdings 5.7M JPY
VMWare 12.5M JPY
Goldman Sachs 18M JPY
Accenture 8.6M JPY
Avande 5M - 12M JPY

Sign up to view all the data today.

12. [JA] Job Draft

Job Draft is a super unique site. They make companies compete for applicants by making offers based on a candidate's profile.

It's in Japanese, and you need an account, but create one and you'll get access to a goldmine of salary data.

Here are their ranges for a few top companies:

Company Salary
Merpay 5.5M - 12.6M JPY
LINE 6.5M - 13M JPY
Recruit Lifestyle 6M - 10M JPY
Speee 4.6M - 15M JPY
DMM.com 5M - 12M JPY
LayerX 6M - 16M JPY
Works Applications 6M - 9M JPY
FreakOut 5M - 11M JPY

Again. Tons of Japanese companies. Most paying median salaries of around 7M or 8M JPY. Many pay over 10M JPY in the upper range.

Are you starting to get a feel for the overall ranges? I hope so, but let's keep going — I promised an ultimate guide and I intend to deliver on that promise.

13. [JA] Forkwell Jobs

Forkwell Jobs is another Japanese site with a treasure trove of salary data.

It requires an account, but I searched their open positions. At the time of writing, they have over 2,000 open jobs.

I sorted by "highest salary (lower range)"

There are 50+ pages, so over 750 jobs paying a minimum of 5.5M JPY a year.

Here's a small preview of the data:

Company Job Salary
Timee Senior Software Engineer, Backend 10M - 15M JPY
Persol Front End Engineer 6.5M - 12M JPY
Tech Suite Web Application Engineer 7M - 10M JPY
Nealle Backend Engineer 7M - 10M JPY
Stockmark Data Platform 7M - 12M JPY
Light Server Engineer 5M - 10M JPY
SIVA Full Stack Engineer 6M - 12M JPY
Kaonavi Front End Engineer 6M - 12M JPY

Forkwell is a Japanese site so a lot of their jobs require Japanese skills, but some don't.

Even so, they have a huge amount of salary data, so I recommend taking a look.

14. [JA] Green Japan

Green Japan is one of the biggest Japanese job boards for tech positions.

I filtered by jobs that can pay over 8M JPY and there were 4,762 results... somehow even more than Forkwell.

Here are a few examples:

Company Job Salary
Uzabase Web Application Engineer 7M - 8.5M JPY
Style Free Front End Engineer 4M - 8M JPY
Spice Factory Web Engineer 5.5M - 7.5M JPY
Trustdock Information Security Officer 4M - 5.5M JPY
Globee Android Engineer 8M - 12M JPY
Progrit Application Engineer 8M - 10M JPY
Jinjer Front End Engineer 6.5M - 10M JPY

Takeaway: there are hundreds, if not thousands of Japanese companies paying engineers 5-10M JPY a year or more. Including some you've never heard of.

Salaries in this range are not uncommon.

15. [JA] StudentSalary

StudentSalary is a Japanese site focused on internship compensation for students.

Their data is in the form of hourly wages. It covers some well-known companies so I recommend this site for anyone who wants to work while still in school.

Here are some example data points:

Company Salary
DeNA 1500 - 3750 JPY/hr
GMO Internet 2000 JPY/hr
Goldman Sachs 3922 JPY/hr
Google 3345 JPY/hr
LINE 2000 - 2668 JPY/hr
Mercari 1700 - 7000 JPY/hr

View all the data on StudentSalary!

16. [JA] Jobtalk

Jobtalk is a Japanese site, and it requires an account to see all the data.

But even if you don't sign up, it can still be useful to find salary data points for certain companies.

Here's one random example:

Company Salary
SmartNews 9M JPY

17. Glassdoor

Glassdoor is worth checking out for big international companies.

You can filter by location to get Japan-specific data. The ranges can sometimes be outdated, so I recommend looking at more recent entries to get a feel for current rates.

18. LinkedIn

LinkedIn also has pretty good job recommendations. In English. With a focus on larger, more English-friendly companies.

In my experience, it's hit or miss when it comes to salary — sometimes it's included, sometimes it's not.

Still, I recommend checking it out to see what positions are out there. Some of them should have salary ranges.

19. Bootcamp Grad Data

If you're a bootcamp graduate (or considering taking this route) there's data for that too.

Code Chrysalis co-founder Yan Fan stated on Reddit that their graduates start at 6M JPY on average.

Apparently the full range is from the "high" 4 millions to over 7 million.

Le Wagon publishes graduate salaries too.

Their average starting salary is 4.7M JPY, with an increase to 5.76M JPY after a graduate gets their first raise.

20. Blog Posts

Sometimes personal blog posts contain valuable salary data.

It can be tough to find good ones, but here are a couple of examples of what I mean.

"IT engineer average salary ranking" includes the following data points:

Company Salary
Recruit 9.7M JPY
GMO Click Holdings 8.5M JPY
Cyberagent 7.7M JPY
Gree 7.5M JPY
M3 7.3M JPY

"I'm leaving Google" is a Japanese post from an ex-Googler in Tokyo. The author discusses the fact that they earned over 20M JPY at Google.

Here's a post about LINE. It states that their engineering salary ranges are from 5M to 20M JPY. If you have a company in mind, blog posts from their employees can be a good way to get a sense of their salary range.

21. Recruiting Firms

Many recruiting firms let you search open positions on their websites. Usually some of the jobs will have salary data. And a few of the big firms also publish salary guides:

By the way, recruiters (AKA headhunters) are another potential source of salary data. After all, they've seen tons of private offer details you won't find anywhere online.

Here's a (randomly-ordered) list of some of the well-known tech recruiting firms in Japan:

Take a look at our guide to headhunters in Japan to learn more.

Many have salary ranges published. By the way, I'm not recommending any of these — just providing a list for convenience.

22. Hacker News Tokyo Slack

The Hacker News Tokyo Slack workspace is a great resource if you want to work in Japan.

Have a question about salaries? This community is full of people in the English-speaking tech community in Tokyo, so someone can help.

I recommend you join and get involved in the community.

More of a Kansai person? Don't worry, Hacker News Kansai has you covered.

And that's it for my recommended salary resources — go through the above links, and you'll find literally thousands of data points for tech salaries in Japan.

Next, let's synthesize all that data... and come up with some overall salary ranges.


Japan developer salary ranges by level

There are a lot of factors that affect salaries. I'll try to cover a few of them and then give what I think is a "good" salary for each experience level.

Already being in Japan will also give you a leg up because more companies will be willing to talk to you. And of course the more relevant programming experience you have the better.

Your Japanese skill level may also have an impact. Speaking Japanese opens doors, which means you'll have more jobs to choose from, and a better chance at a higher salary.

A degree in a related field like Computer Science will also help, although it's not a necessity. In fact I feel like Japan is a good place for self-taught engineers (the majority of Japanese engineers don't have CS degrees).

Also, foreign companies will usually pay more than domestic companies on the whole (though there are exceptions). And while this isn't specific to Japan, soft skills like being able to sell yourself and knowing how to negotiate your salary can also make a big difference.

Given all of the above caveats, here's what I think foreign software developers should aim for in terms of salary.

Salary Range: Junior developers in Japan

For a junior developer (1-2 years of experience), I'd look to earn 5M - 7M JPY.

Even 1 year of coding experience can increase your market value a lot, so I wouldn't recommend taking a job for less than ~5M JPY a year at this level.

Salary Range: Mid-career developers in Japan

Let's define "mid-career" as 3-5 years of experience.

As an experienced English-speaking developer, you can earn in the range of 7M - 12M JPY per year. Again, outlier companies like Google and Indeed can pay more, but most positions at decent companies will pay somewhere in this range.

That is, companies like the ones mentioned in this guide.

Salary Range: Senior developers in Japan

By "senior" I mean 6+ years of experience.

In Japan, you should expect to earn 8M - 15M JPY in the average case as a senior developer.

But if you have exceptional tech skills, the sky's the limit. Especially now with the rise of remote work, there are more opportunities than ever.

Most of the companies on the Japan Dev Company List should also be capable of paying senior developers salaries in this range.


I'm bullish on Japan's tech industry.

I've been here since 2013 and I've seen lots of positive trends. And while my perception may be skewed by my own increasing experience and knowledge, I have no doubt tech salaries in Japan are increasing.

It's clear that the demand for developers has never been higher, and the gap between supply and demand is forecast to keep growing for at least the next decade or so. It stands to reason that this will continue to translate to higher salaries as companies become more and more desperate for engineering talent.

Japan software developer deficit

The above graph shows the estimated software engineer deficit at around 300,000 people and increasing every year for the next several years. It also shows that the number of in-house software engineers is increasing, which is an important metric.

More companies are adopting modern development practices and moving away from the traditional methods of Japan's legacy companies. That means they're hiring developers directly and building out dev teams. They're taking software development seriously instead of trying to outsource them as cheaply as possible.

The need for skilled developers is clear, and the foreign developer community is expanding as a result. In just the last 3-4 years, bootcamps have gone from non-existent to relatively mainstream (see Le Wagon, CodeChrysalis).

English developer-focused communities like Japan Dev TokyoTech and others have become more popular too. And the meetup community has become way more vibrant, with frequent tech events in Tokyo.

I have no doubt all this growth will continue to push salaries up for international developers.

What about domestic companies?

In addition to the increasing number of startups, quite a few larger Japanese tech companies have also made strides toward increasing salaries for tech workers.

Many of them have done away with strict salary ranges (which used to be the norm in Japan) and moved to a more meritocratic salary structure where even new grads can earn high salaries. They've also begun investing more into emerging tech like AI with companies like Sony, NEC and DeNA all sharply increasing their new graduate salary ranges for AI roles (to as high as 10 million yen starting).

Fujitsu is also apparently going all in on AI, reportedly offering salaries of 30-40 million yen to AI engineers. These moves by large Japanese companies are another clear sign that salaries in Japan's tech industry are on the rise.

Several top companies have also expanded their new grad hiring beyond Japan. For example, companies like Mercari, Woven Planet and SoftBank have begun participating in hiring at India's IIT campuses. A lot of other global tech companies like Microsoft and Uber also go to IIT to find top engineers, and Japan joining them shows a realization by these companies that they need to start looking beyond Japan for talent.

I still feel that a lot of the older, traditional Japanese companies have a ways to go before the average foreigner would find them to be attractive options, but I do believe that they're making an effort to improve.

Do all companies pay in these ranges?

I'll be honest with you...

No. They don't.

In this guide, my focus is on modern companies in Japan, because those are the companies I recommend.

Japan's tech industry is evolving, and there are still legacy companies that don't value software. So no, some of them don't pay nearly this well.

My advice? avoid these companies, and focus on the resources I've shared in this guide.

The Japan Dev company list is my attempt to create the most comprehensive online list of the foreigner-friendly tech companies in Japan. Use it!

That way, you can target the modern segment of the industry and avoid joining a company with poor work conditions. There are hundreds — if not thousands — of modern companies hiring developers in Japan. So ignore the companies giving you low-ball offers, and use the ranges I shared above as your guide.

Do your own research

Have you educated yourself about companies in Japan and followed the best practices for finding a job here and still can't find anything but low-ball offers?

Well, then it might not be a good idea to come to Japan just yet. There are thousands of domestic companies here (many of which don't offer an environment most foreign developers would enjoy). So if you send enough applications you'll probably get an offer from one if you drop your standards enough. But I'd advise joining a company under those circumstances.

Here's my rule of thumb: if a company can't pay at least 4-5 million yen per year, it should be avoided. Even for new grads.

Because as we've established, that's the bottom of the range for skilled engineers at the better companies. Go below this value and the chances of a company not respecting their engineers goes up sharply. So do the chances of using outdated technologies, not gaining transferable skills, having to work lots of overtime and all the other negative things associated with IT in Japan.

If you want to come to Japan no matter what and you're willing to do what's necessary to improve your situation once you arrive, this might be a valid stepping stone. But I recommend that most people avoid companies that low-ball them. It's usually better to stay in your home country and gain some more experience or work on your Japanese and try again in a year or two.


Bottom line: Japan is a valid option

It's possible to find a high-paying job in Japan as a foreign software developer.

It requires diligent research and you have to choose a good company that pays market rates for foreign developers, but it's possible. I know this for a fact, and I'm going to keep repeating it as long as I have to because we need more positive voices in our community to drown out all the negative ones.

It pains me to see people who could've had a great experience here giving up on Japan because of what they read online.

So my hope is that those with an interest in working in IT here will give it a chance. It may be true that not every software engineering job will be fulfilling or high-paying, but that doesn't matter.

You only need one.

Even if the "average" IT job in Japan isn't very attractive, that's okay. You don't have to work at an average IT job.

So don't.

P.S Want to work in tech in Japan? Check out our list of jobs in Japan for developers and tech folks.