Things I’ve Learned After (Almost) 2 Years Working in A Japanese International Startup Company

Oktafia Putri
6 min readFeb 26, 2022

Ever since my 3rd year in University, I have worked a lot with various types of companies, and mostly the international/global ones. Only until April 2020, when I joined this Japanese international startup company, I finally experience a totally different working environment than the one I’ve had before.

*As a disclaimer, I might be super lucky to be in a really supportive company and this case might be or might not be happening in a general term.

But based on what I observe, based on seeing their work ethics and professionalism, here are a few things that I’ve learned about a Japanese international startup company, after almost 2 years working there.


Japanese people are very well-known to have a high work-ethics or let’s say workaholic. It’s a no surprise, that it would be really hard to impress them or to prove that you’re a hard-working employee.

If you want to impress them (your bosses, or HR) because you aim for a promotion, perhaps. Or even if you just try to pass the probation phase, it won’t be a simple or an easy journey. Everyone in a Japanese company, is a hard worker and do their job really quick. So doing a job well and quick, is the bare minimum. There are a few things that I’ve witnessed, can impress them to tell that you’re an excellent worker:

  • You have to show them that you have a special added value, that the other people might not be able to do.
  • Maintaining a good and open communication is a must. When you’re feeling down and predict that you might not be as productive as usual, tell them.
  • Base things on data. If you’re about to say any statement, propose any idea, always base it all on the data or the research that you’ve done. Only so, your coworkers or bosses will think that you’ve done a quite good job.

Even though impressing people in the Japanese company is hard, once they have seen and acknowledge your good or outstanding works, you will be appreciated a lot! What I mean a lot is that they LOVE to thank you for any small things that you’ve done! This appreciation, we know will mean a lot, considering that one of the reasons why people often to leave jobs is because of the lack of appreciation.

The company where I work right now, they use this website named Unipos. This website allows us to post anything to anyone as an act of thanking them for doing something. And surprising enough, they do really post for all the small things that we’ve done for them! For every ‘thank’ post that we receive, there are points! And every month, my office have some special awards based on this Unipos scores like: who received most points, who gave most points, who clapped most, and receive most claps. It’s really amazing to feel appreciated even for a small favor that we do for other people at work, and receive it in public.

Example of Unipos’ posts

Again, this rule really helps “Praise them in public, criticise them in private”. And Japanese people, stand by that rule. Never in my life in this company i see someone humiliate another person’s mistakes publicly.

They Value Attitude & Professionalism Above Your Skill

“Japanese people are so polite”

I could not agree more with that sentence! This attitude is also obvious in working environment. As it’s often said

“Skills can be improved, but attitude is the first”, is also something that you will expect to be seen in Japanese companies. These 3 magic words of “Please” “Thank you” and “I’m Sorry”, are used in every day life!

Of course this does not devalue the importance of having the actual skill for your job, but if you have an excellent skill but lack of communication, coordination or politeness to other people, I don’t think you can survive long in any company let alone a Japanese one

They Follow Everything by The Book

In this current company that I’m working at, I might not be in the regional management level who’s in charge for the rules and regulations of each company’s branches. But one thing I know is that they follow everything by the book! What it means is that they just do things based on how it’s regulated, or how they usually do it. This does not mean they’re not open to a change, but making a change would need some extra steps.

This happens not only in regulations but also in our daily works. There were many times when I would like to propose changes in certain things we do at work, it won’t be as easy as just proposing the idea. Here are a few steps that (based on my experiences) I did:

  • Propose something that is not 100% new or strange. Propose a change, not something that’s totally new. Because proposing something that’s 100% new, would be taking a lot more of hassle.
  • Base the ideas or argumentations from the real data. Don’t propose anything based on assumptions. For example: if we’re proposing a new mechanisms/campaigns for social media, we should first show how our social media has been performing all these times, and what are the criteria (like what time we usually post, what types of contents, etc). Based on those, we should give the data of a certain posts that have the tendency to perform better, then propose a campaign that’s been proven to be successful somewhere else, BUT also should still prove how the criteria of that campaign will still meet ours and have potencies to succeed. Basing proposals or ideas on assumption, will not be taken seriously in the Japanese company becase THEY VALUE DATA!


The last thing is something that we’ve known for sure, which is that THEY WORK VERY HARD. Yes! They really do!

For them, everyday they must finish all their to do list, even though it means they will need to work late. In the case of my office, we have this “Learning leave” where we can take it to learn something new that’s related to our jobs, but as a leave we’re not working on that day, and it doesn’t take/reduce our vacation leave. In 1 year, we’re given 10 days of learning leave!

Once there was a conversation going on “Do they (the japanese team) really take the learning leave?”

Then one of my bosses answer “No. They don’t. They somehow feel embarrassed because they think that if they want to learn something, they will do it after working hours. Not taking a day off from work for it”.

Another example that happens and I witness everyday is that they really put 100% into their jobs! Not only they work really hard (like extra hours), they really put their mind and hears into what they’re doing. They understand the value of the company and put it onto their mind. They do the works not only for the sake of finishing the job or getting the salary, but they do understand that they put a value into what they’re doing. This can be really seen on how they treat the customer/user, and how they solve in issue.

But one thing that I love the most by working with Japanese people is that even though they work hard and in restless hours, they don’t expect the same from other people. Often we see people in our lives where if they work in a certain hour, they expect their team members to do the same, right? Not with Japanese people. They understand that ‘their hard working or extra hours’ behaviour is not for everyone. So after the working hour finish, they really respect it and don’t bother anyone. They would still choose to continue the work tomorrow rather than bothering another person’s after hours even though the work is related to that person.

Especially during someone’s day off. They really do everything to solve an issue without bothering the person that’s having a day off, even though when the issue is under the account of that person.

Wrapping It All Up

From all these behaviours of Japanese people when it comes to work ethics, I think there are a lot that we (Indonesian people) can learn and adapt. It would be nice to see more companies in Indonesia that give a lot of appreciations publicly, and value jobs more than just to earn money.



Oktafia Putri

A woman in tech. A life time public speaker, self-proclaimed writer, who loves to keep learning. A chairman of RUSSEAN (Russia ASEAN Youth Association).