Guide to Accounting Jobs in Japan

By Pankhuri Bedekar / February 11, 2021

Are you an accountant or are you thinking about becoming an accountant? Are you passionate about managing company accounts? Maybe this guide is the one for you. If you want to find Accounting Jobs in Japan, follow our steps. We will teach you all you need to know in order to enter the Japanese world as an accountant. This guide contains full and clear information about the accounting industry in Japan, how to become a good accountant, and many others.

This article is part of our series of jobs in Japan.

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    Summary of Accounting Industry in Japan

    The highest possible licensing requirement an accountant in Japan can meet is the Certified Public Accountant. To achieve the CPA in Japan, it is compulsory to pass the CPA examination, and have at least two years of practicing in the field of accounting or auditing. This experience can be completed before or after achieving a passing grade in your CPA examination. The CPA examination is conducted in Japanese; therefore as a foreigner, it is necessary to achieve fluency in the Japanese language.

    After you have passed the exam, it is necessary to complete a three-year course provided by the Japan Foundation for Accounting Education and Learning (JFAEL). This is a professional accountancy education program that establishes its curriculum based on requirements outlined by the International Education Standard. This ensures that graduates within the field of accountancy can apply their skills on an international scale, and are not restricted to working only in Japan. Once you have completed the program, you are qualified to take the final examination provided by the Japanese Institute of Public Accountants (JICPA), and after successfully passing the exam you will become a certified public accountant.

    Accounting Jobs in Japan

    Accounting Standards and Principles

    To be an accountant, or to work in the tax industry, it Is necessary to provide certification as a public accountant and a tax accountant. Your role as a certified public accountant is to perform regular audits under the Certified Public Accountant Law, whereas a tax accountant will regularly engage in tax agent services, including preparing documentation and providing consultations under the Certified Tax Accountant Law.

    The main difference between the two forms of accounting is that a certified public accountant will have some authority over the performance of audits under the Certified Public Accountant Law, while tax accountants focus mainly on tax services, preparing tax-related documents, and consulting under the Certified Tax Consultant Law. Despite their differences, both tax accounts and public accountants need to have the added skill of business consulting, which is a topic that will be explored further in this article.

    Accounting and business consulting is a broad and diverse field. Due to its multifaceted nature, it is necessary to diversify your skillset to be the best fit for Accounting Jobs in Japan. 

    Types of Accounting Jobs in Japan

    Building a career in the field of accountancy is a smart choice. Generally, accounting produces a high median salary and has skills that are applicable and relevant in many fields. The industry is forecasted to have significant growth over the coming years, and now is the best time to join the field. However, once you begin to pursue your career within the field, you will come to realize that it is far larger and diverse than you may have initially expected. It is unrealistic to believe that there is one straight path in accounting. The field is far from homogenous, with each area having it’s own focus and specialization. The following are just a few of the many examples of Accounting Jobs in Japan and where certain qualification in accounting can take you:

    Public Accountant

    Once you have obtained your CPA, you are qualified to work in a public accounting firm. These firms usually provide services in auditing, tax, consulting, and different services for clients across a diverse range of sectors. Although the role of a public accountant is rather general, it provides experience in the many different facets of an accounting role, including preparing, reviewing and finalizing financial statements, to creating budgets for company projects, and learning how to provide advice on a large scale of issues 

    Tax Accounting

    A tax accountant helps clients and companies report their financial and income tax statements. This is a legal requirement; therefore the role of a tax accountant is crucial to the everyday operations of a business. These individuals require qualifications in the role of tax accountancy and are required to research and interpret tax law. Key responsibilities include preparing payments, identify tax savings, and analyzing potential issues. 

    Managerial Accountant 

    A managerial accountant can record and analyze financial information through the organization, collecting, analyzing and preparing the data. This data is then passed onto the management team who make practical financial decisions that benefit the company. Your main responsibility would be to manage the various transactions the corporation engages in. Your role is critical to plan and forecast potential future growth, issues and outcomes. Being able to look back on past transactions using financial data to learn from mistakes is essential to grow and be able to compete in the competitive market.

    Accounting jobs in Japan

    Forensic Accountant

    Forensic accounts are provided with the skills of a chartered accountant, and are involved in investigating, providing support during disputes, reviewing insurance claims, and have oversight over issues that could lead to a court review. Generally, your role as a forensic accountant is to investigate fraud, which is unfortunately a common occurrence hidden in corporations accounting systems. Forensic accounts in this case are required to deep dive into the transactional history and provide transparency on what has occurred. This role generally finds company losses or liabilities being covered to avoid debt, rather than cash being embezzled in a company.

    Financial Accountant

    A financial accountant is required to have oversight over the accounting and financial activities of an organization. They have an overview of the economic stability of the company and can pass this financial information to relevant departments in the organization. From this information, departments can budget and make smart investment decisions. The main focuses of a financial accountant are costs, productivity, margins and company expenditures.

    Financial Planner

    A financial planner helps individuals make decisions about their money, such as investing. Usually, their job involves executing trades in the market on behalf of others or they can create a tailored financial plan that helps clients achieve their financial objectives. Their role also extends to budgeting and strategizing around tax. Financial planners/advisors must communicate regularly with their clients so they can evaluate their current

    Internal Auditor 

    The role of an internal auditor is similar to the role of a financial planner, in the sense that they conduct independent consultant activities based on organizational objectives that add value and improve business functions. This allows a business to accomplish its objectives by providing a systematic and disciplined approach that helps determine the potential risk of business processes. It is necessary that internal auditors work objectively to provide accurate judgment on business functions. This is also a legal requirement, as the internal auditor should not be working for the best interest of the company. For example, it is unethical and illegal for an internal auditor to fail to mention specific business processes for the benefit of the company, ie. failing to report loans and liabilities.

    Skills needed for Accounting jobs in Japan

    There are two kinds of skills that employers look for in their accountants: Basic soft skills and specialised accounting skills. Soft skills are designed to be applicable in any industry you choose to work in. Soft skills are professional skills that you develop as you undergo your accounting duties. This helps improve communication in the workplace and effectively leads to a time of employees. The following are examples of soft skills:

    • Strong writing and public speaking skills
    • Being organized and paying attention to detail
    • Knowing how to problem solve and analyze complex tasks 
    • Time management 
    • Deductive reasoning
    • Learning how to think critically 
    • Be an active, not a passive learner 
    • Clerical knowledge
    Accounting skills

    Standing Out as an Accountant

    An accounting degree provides access to great jobs in finance, analytics and forecasting. Not only that, but the skills that a career in accounting provides are transferable to any industry. However, if you want to truly excel in the accounting field, it is essential that you differentiate yourself from competitors looking for the same roles as you. The following are a few skills you need to have in your tool belt to make you stand out as an accountant. 

    First, take responsibility for your own growth and development: Your previous bosses may have had a strong guiding role as you began your career. They may have looked out for you, and pushed you to get the right experiences and skills to excel in your chosen field. However, for the vast majority of people this isn’t always the case. Mergers, takeovers and a fragile economy means that managers have become more uncertain about the future of work. This has caused added stress in the workplace, and has potentially shifted their focus. Because of this, it is essential that you take responsibility for your own success.

    Secondly, add value to the company: Accountancy has a reputation for having too much to do in too little time. The issue is that with a tight schedule, it is easy to be occupied by the busy routine. Although these tasks need doing, completing them to the expected standard is not going to make you stand out. If you truly wish to accelerate in your career, it is essential that you distribute your time between doing your work as well as completing activities that add value to the company. Examples of these value adding activities could include: making an effort to improve work processes, increase efficiency and going out of your way to upskill.

    Finally, work on your soft skills: Accountants already have well developed technical skills. However, making sure you continuously develop these skills to keep up with changing times is necessary to stay competitive. In addition to your technical skills however, it is an added bonus to have good non-technical skills. As accounting shifts more towards business partnering, being able to work in a team outside your professional field is essential. Collaboration and teamwork has become an increasingly sought after skill. Know which soft skills employers are looking for, and work towards developing these. If public speaking isn’t your forte, join a toastmasters club and work on building your confidence. If you don’t have extensive experience working in a team, find volunteer opportunities with a group of people and work towards a common goal. 

    Because accountants and auditors main goal is to manage financial documentation, they must be familiar with a range of software, as well as the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), The following are important technical skills that an accountant would need to take into their role:

    • Reporting business financials and being able to analyze this data
    • Preparing tax statements and financial statements using accounting software such as Microsoft Excel 
    • Accounting reconciliation 
    • Creating and organizing spreadsheets 
    • Understanding how to use software to present data 

    A Typical Day as an Accountant

    Understanding what your day-to-day activities will entail as an accountant is necessary to perform well in the role. Before you make a move into the field, it is necessary to conduct your own research and talk to professionals within the industry to see whether this career path is the best for you. Because the industry is so broad (as outlined by the various career options provided above), it is difficult to come up with a fully accurate “day in the life” of an accountant outline.

    The field is very broad and varies greatly, therefore the days of two accountants could look nothing alike!. This has a silver lining however. With the option of a variety of paths, this makes it easier to find a role that benefits the most from your experience and skill set. There are plenty of opportunities to find a role that best suits your working style and preferences as well. Overall however, accounting professions are usually expected to find specific skills regularly. The following are some things that you can expect in Accounting Jobs in Japan:

    1. Regularly making the most out of your analytical skills: Accounting professions will regularly encounter various tasks that test their analytical abilities. This includes analyzing financial documents and strategizing for future business operations. 
    2. Doing detailed-oriented work: Being thorough and precise in your day to day functions is imperative to your role in accountancy. Having accurate bank statements, profit/loss statements, and balance sheets is essential to maintaining integrity and accuracy. 
    3. Communicating with other accounting professionals: Usually accountants work within a team with other accounting professionals. This means that your role entails discussing work through technical terminology, while also having a strong understanding of concepts relating to accounting work. This allows for consistency and alignment across departments
    4. Communicating with other teams departments: Although your day to day role involves working closely with other accounting colleagues, you’re also likely to need to deliver your expertise, opinions and reporting to other employees. This will require you to be fully comfortable with accounting topics, and be able to translate said concepts to those less familiar with these concepts 
    5. Make the most of accounting technology: You must be familiar with accounting related software, such as Microsoft Excel, data modeling programs and financial software. Although your career will be based on simple accounting tasks that can generalize across many fields, there are times where you would be required to perform specialized tasks. This is what most of your time will be assigned to, and could include things such as:
    • Building and organizing financial statements
    • Analyzing costs to conduct everyday business functions
    • Understanding how to budget for future functions
    • Preparing tax related documents, and being transparent with said documentation
    • Auditing business financial statements
    • Learning how to use and implement any major accounting software or accounting systems
    • Managing payroll and ensuring employees are being paid on time
    • Improving accounting processes overtime
    • Bookkeeping and organizing financial records
    • Providing financial recommendations and advice
    • Ensuring that the business is complying with legal requirements
    • General financial oversight regarding income and expenditure 

    Top 4 most popular accounting tools in Japan

    FreshBooks

    FreshBooks is a great application for double entry accounting with accuracy. This app allows you to identify the company's revenue, and ensures that this matches with your expenses. This helps increase accuracy when calculating profits and losses. The app automatically checks to make sure that all accounts are balanced, without needing to manually go in and calculate this yourself. This especially comes in handy when filing taxes as the likelihood of errors is reduced significantly. Added perks include being able to send invoices quickly and efficiently, note pricing, adding tracked time and managing finances all in one place.

    NetSuite

    Similar to FreshBooks, NetSuite offers services that allow a business to manage all key business processes in one system. The best part however, NetSuite does not require a large upfront fee, no cost for maintenance, and best of all, it’s quick and easy to start up! NetSuite is primarily used to organize resources, manage inventory, keep a track of your finances, start your e-commerce brand and build a strong business-customer relationship. Because many companies are resorting to cloud based services to lower operating costs, NetSuite makes the most of this by unifying every step of business management, operations and financials.

    Odoo

    Odoo’s aim is to widen their functionality by increasing sales, managing operations, developing brand awareness through marketing, increasing productivity and establishing a well developed HR system. Odoo does it all by fully integrating different applications to manage every part of the organisational functions. There are thirty main applications to choose from, alongside 3000 extra applications that address different business areas. Odoo is very all-rounded. It gathers all your business needs in one simple and easy to use platform. It is difficult to find other applications that are so well integrated.

    Vertex

    Vertex is a popular form of accounting software among tax consultants, and services companies of many sizes. Smaller, more independent companies, all the way to large multinationals and corporations, use vertex. The company offers various resources that allow organisations to automate, integrate and streamline their corporate tax processes. This extends to revenue, sales, consumer use, value added, and payroll. Vertex software can also be tailored to specific needs such as retail, communications, and leasing. 

    If you’re stuck deciding between the many different potential career pathways, it may help to take some time to conduct your research on the different accounting jobs available and the specific tasks you would be required to perform. Different forms of accounting will have different requirements in the hiring process based on your education, certification and experiences. If you wish to get into a specific field, be sure that you’re well prepared and obtain the credentials necessary to work in this field.

    Salaries for Accounting Jobs in Japan

    Below are the approximate salaries for common accounting positions in Japan. These salaries are calculated on a per annum basis:

    Job category

    Average minimum 

    Average maximum 

    Average 

    Average salary

       

    7,533,000

    Bookkeeping and Payroll

    4,010,000

    9,063,000

    6,024,000

    Taxation

    5,015,000

    10,067,500

    7,030,000

    Accounting – General

    4,512,500

    11,072,000

    7,030,000

    Other accounting 

    4,512,500

    11,072,000

    7,030,000

    Analysis and planning 

    5,517,500

    12,076,500

    8,036,000

    Financial and Management Accounting 

    5,517,500

    12,076,500

    8,036,000

    Audit and Risk 

    6,020,000

    13,081,000

    8,539,000

    Product control

    5,517,500

    14,085,500

    8,539,000

    Treasury and Corporate Finance 

    6,020,000

    13,081,000

    8,539,000

    Management, Directorship

    6,020,000

    14,085,500

    9,042,000

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    Financial Documentation

    Generally, the fiscal year in Japan runs from the 1st of April till the 31st of March. This differs from the Western calendar where the fiscal year runs similar to the calendar year. 

    Financial documentation within the fiscal year usually consists of having a balance sheet (B/S), a profit and loss statement (P/L), as well as a statement of changes in the assets. By law, any public company needs to publicly address their balance sheet (if they are a larger company, they need to disclose both the balance sheet and the profit and loss statement), after an annual AGM. This is a legal requirement; therefore it is mandatory by law. As a publicly listed company, it is also necessary to publish a financial report quarterly and on an annual basis. 

    For more information on accounting terms in Japanese check out Japanese Accounting Glossary

    Where to find Accounting Jobs in Japan

    So where do you find accounting jobs in Japan? What facilities hire foreigners?

    Job-hunting is a tricky business, but searching through the correct means is your first step to starting your career in Japan. Below is an outline of foreigner-friendly websites that present various job vacancies in Japan. Accountancy is a field that builds skills that are applicable to any industry. To help you in your pursuit towards a job, below are some places to look for Accounting Jobs in Japan:

    Moreover, if you already have experience in an accounting field and are interested in finding an accounting job in Japan, you could enroll in some recruitment agencies.

    Here is a list of some recruitment agencies you can enroll in:

    Find an accounting job in Japan

    Tips for using Job Board Websites in Japan

    • The best way to increase your odds of finding a job is to use more than one website which presents many opportunities.
    • Use websites that give opportunities to find recruiters that provide career counseling opportunities and that help navigate Japan’s application process.
    • Edit your Western styled resume to cater to a Japanese audience. You will need a Japanese resume, cover letter and be prepared to hand in other necessary documents when you file your interest.

    For more information please see our guides on Job Boards in Japan for Foreigners and Job Hunting in Japan - Resumes

    Advice for Checking Job Listings

    • Remember who your audience is when submitting your application. Companies will often receive hundreds of applications for job listings on job boards. To help manage the process companies sometimes use software to help them filter out bad or unrelated CVs. Therefore, it is important that you always do your research on the company and customize your CV for each specific job listing.
    • In order to help manage your time, it may be beneficial to sign up to be notified by email on new job listings. This will not only help you efficiently navigate job boards, but will also allow you to submit your application as early as possible. 
    • Be positive! Don’t let rejection or failures hold you back. Keep on track and work hard towards your goal!

    Beneficial Courses to take for an Accounting Degree

    If you want to find accounting jobs in Japan, certain courses will offer a more in-depth understanding of accounting theories and concepts. They expand your worldview and provide the training necessary to add to your skillset. Topics to prioritize if you wish to pursue a career in accounting could include:

    • Micro/Macroeconomics 
    • The basics of financial accounting 
    • Managerial accounting 
    • Quantitative methods and analysis 
    • Managing finances 

    If you are aware of the skills employers seek in their employees, this may establish a clear focus and help you develop these skills to better position yourself for the future. To summarize, it is best to seek entry level jobs and work your way upwards. This will help develop your skill set over time. Finding a mentor who has been in your position will put you on the right track towards setting your goals and achieving them. And if you’re in high school and just starting to think about your future career, find a University degree program that speaks to your interests and builds a foundation for you to work towards your goals.

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