Japan vs Hong Kong: A comparison for skilled labor

Japan vs Hong Kong: A comparison for skilled labor.jpg

Written by Rilind Elezaj, Digital Marketing Specialist at Day Translations 

Either you already run a business and are planning to expand, or you are just starting out and trying to figure out which direction to go. In this article I will walk you through the key differences, as well as common characteristics, to help you make the right choice.


Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a great place to start new or expand your current business. It’s Special Administrative Region (SRA) of China with a healthy regulatory environment and free trade agreement. Hong Kong promotes new businesses to enter the market and is striving to make the process as efficient as possible.


Importance of Employment Ordinance

The Employment Ordinance is the key legislation that spells out the terms and conditions governing employment laws in Hong Kong. It outlines the rights, duties, and responsibilities for both: the employer and the employee. The Ordinance dictates the details of the employment contract to specify terms and conditions of employment, as well as protect the employee.

In every case, you must inspect whether the employee is covered by the Employment of Ordinance. If he is, you must fulfill the requirements, if he is not – the terms will depend on the agreement between you and the employee. 


Hiring in Hong Kong

With the booming economy and healthy regulations, Hong Kong is attractive for professionals seeking out job opportunities. Almost everyone speaks English and the job market offers a broad supply of both: local and foreign workers.


How to hire successfully


Personal network in a foreign country is your best bet. Build great relationships with your partners and ask for referrals.


There are several online job portals, where you can post your job advert and the portals are regularly used by potential employees, especially foreign ones. The only exception is that you need to prioritise locals over foreigners.

Professional employer organization (PEO) 

If you don’t have broad network opportunities and experience using online advertisement, recruitment in a foreign country can be a complex and time-consuming process. Therefore, consider hiring the service of a professional employer organization who will help you target the right talents for your business. 



With the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, and the Rugby World Cup 2019, the economy is booming, and new companies are brought to the market at an increased pace. These dynamics, combined with several migration restrictions are causing an excess supply of job opportunities, but the amount of workforce stays the same. Therefore, the main challenge a company in the Japanese market can go through is recruitment. Hiring appropriate employees is a real challenge for several reasons.

Limited choice of professionals

Even though the country is highly-developed, the recruitment of bilingual professionals can be a daunting experience. This can be mainly assigned to inadequate English language education system, cultural characteristics, and low birth rate.


Career culture

Professionals in prioritize safety, reliability, stability and working in a well-known corporation. This makes it especially troublesome for foreign companies to recruit employees as many local professionals prefer a life-long career in one, well-known local corporation. Salaries are competitive and can be great ice-breakers, but established global presence is the most attractive.


Hiring in Japan

While in Western countries, simple online job advertisement is enough to get dozens of applications, it is not as effective in Japan. The advertisement has exceptionally low response rates, especially if they are not translated into the Japanese language. Generally, local professionals are risk-averse and are expected to be loyal to their employee.


How to hire successfully

The network

Japanese highly value relationships and trust. Tap into the potential of your network and ask for referrals.

Professional employer organization (PEO) 

“If you are hiring for the first time, the Professional Employer organization is your way-to-go.” said New Horizons Global Partners, a PEO located in Asia. They are aware of the cultural characteristics and using tested methods, they know how to present your unique values and advantages – making your company more attractive for local professionals. Most of the foreign businesses starting or expanding in Japan use these services as it’s less time-consuming and guarantees that your business will be compliant to the local rules.


Japanese value privacy, therefore online recruitment is not advised as it rarely results in success. To justify the point, less than 1% of the population has LinkedIn accounts.



For new companies, it will be much easier to start operating in Hong Kong. Active import/export trade, as well as healthy regulations regarding the legal aspects, promote new business entering the market. Recruiting employees will also be considerably easier when comparing to Japan. 

This does not mean Japan should be excluded from your options. For a well-established brand, with a global presence, Japan is a great location to expand their business. Strong global presence and well-known brand are highly valued by local professionals.