Toyota, Sony have most Japanese employees overseas

I was surprised to discover a few months ago that Sony, despite being one of the most overtly “global” Japanese companies, has so many Japanese expatriate managers in its European operations.  This is confirmed by the rankings recently published by the Toyo Keizai, which estimate that Sony is only beaten by Toyota in terms of the number of Japanese posted overseas.  Toyota group company Denso is at #3 and the other big electronics conglomerates Canon and Mitsubishi Electric at #8 and #9 – showing Sony is not alone.

Other car manufacturers such as Mazda, Isuzu, Suzuki and Mitsubishi Motors are in the Top 50 but Honda and Nissan appear not to have disclosed data as they are not in the rankings.

I’m less surprised that the main trading companies (Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsui Bussan, Sumitomo Corp, Marubeni) are in the top 10, and that their expatriates represent a high proportion of the headquarters regular staff.   However, this does show that it is very difficult for them to localise their business model in terms of bringing more non-Japanese into the mainstream management of the company – tending instead to keep local executives confined to the acquired subsidiary.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp appears to be an outlier amongst banks but in fact the other megabanks did not disclose data so have not been ranked.  Toyo Keizai assumes that they are at about the same level as SMBC.

The top 20 are as follows:

  1. Toyota 2,450 Japanese expatriates (out of 75,218 headquarter regular staff)
  2. Sony 1,400/16,659
  3. Denso 1,336/23,801
  4. Mitsubishi Corporation 1,286/6,233
  5. Mitsui Bussan 1,209/5,971
  6. Sumitomo Corporation 1,101/5,162
  7. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation 1,083/29,283
  8. Canon ~1000/26,246
  9. Mitsubishi Electric 962/31,694
  10. Marubeni 907/4,458
  11. Hitachi 800/35,631
  12. Toyota Tsusho 792/3,614
  13. JETRO 700/1,764
  14. Minebea Mitsumi 653/5,953
  15. Itochu 640/4,285
  16. Yazaki 597/289,300 (worldwide)
  17. Yamaha Motors 569/6,512
  18. Murata 560/7,899
  19. YKK 560/3,804
  20. Toray 553/4,486


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