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Low-wage Japan Sees 100 million yen jobs amid tech hiring boom

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Japan is joining the global hiring frenzy for technology engineers, as the nation known for modest pay and lifetime employment competes for cutting-edge talent with China and the US.

[TOKYO] Japan is joining the global hiring frenzy for technology engineers, as the nation known for modest pay and lifetime employment competes for cutting-edge talent with China and the US.

Start Today Co., which operates popular online fashion shopping site Zozotown, posted new job offerings Monday seeking up to seven "genius" tech experts, offering annual salaries of as much as 100 million yen (S$1,236,000). The listed company, worth US$8.4 billion by market capitalisation, is looking for workers in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to cryptography and robotics, according to a blog post.

It's an unusual move in Japan, where workers often take lower pay in exchange for secure employment. That's evident even among the relatively well-paid IT professionals, with top software engineers earning on average about US$113,000 a year, compared with US$250,000 in the US, according to hiring firm Robert Walters.  "There's no precedent for this," said Tomokazu Betzold, head of tech hiring at Robert Walters Japan. "There's a long-standing stigma that Japanese companies don't pay competitively. So this is a really positive development." Dizzying salaries for tech talent are becoming the norm in China, where compensation at one of the nation's largest startup can exceed US$3 million. In the U.S., one engineer at Alphabet's self-driving unit made more than US$120 million, surpassing the nose-bleed figures offered to some top Wall Street traders.

"As a developer in Silicon Valley you'll get a chance to earn more than in Tokyo," said MR Betzold. "But Japan can still be comparable depending on the position."

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