Author: M.Kok

The state of this year’s Japanese winter bonus

In Japan, not just Christmas comes in December, but also the second yearly bonus. For most Japanese workers and job seekers, the bonus system is a crucial part of employment. To find out more about the Japanese bonus system, check out this post.

Yearly bonus in 2021?

The problem with the bonus this year is that the whole system is dependent on company profit. How well a company has done since the last bonus payment circumscribes the budget for the current one.

If you are fortunate to be part of an industry that did not get to feel any of the blows- the pandemic dealt, or perhaps even made a profit from, good for you. Many others will have their bonuses reduced, and workers in some sectors won’t get anything.

Here is where you need to pay attention

Make sure you understand your employment agreement. With some contracts, the employer is obliged to pay out, regardless of the company profits.

If you find it difficult- to comprehend your employment agreement, you might want to have someone look at it. The Japanese labour law office can do it for you for free in most cases. Or you could consult a solicitor, but that is often a paid service.

Some Japanese companies can be sparse with information and somewhat cautious when passing information down the ranks. It could very well happen that your company lets you know at the last moment that the bonus is reduced or even scrapped.

Again, be aware of your work contract and try not to start counting the bonus money until it is in your hand.

If you are not contractually entitled to a guaranteed bonus, there is not much you can do. Instead of anguishing over the loss of some, or in some extreme cases the whole sum, try to think of it more like the other free perks that come with most Japanese jobs. A nice extra that you get on top of your regular salary.


The happy news is that Japanese companies rarely ever try to underhand their employees. At last, not intentionally. You are most likely going to get whatever the budget limitations permit.

If you have not received any updates regarding your next bonus, look at the standing of the company’s stocks for a hint. The better the company does on the market, the better are your chances.

Often no news means good news. But it always helps to double-check. Confido Sed Cognoscere(trust but verify).


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