Firms to boost foreigner hiring

Fast Retailing, Lawson, Rakuten eye emerging markets in Asia amid shrinking domestic sales

Kyodo News

Fast Retailing Co., Lawson Inc. and Rakuten Inc. are planning to boost hiring of foreign nationals by up to 50 percent of their new recruits in fiscal 2011, officials of the companies said Tuesday.

Because they are expanding global operations, especially in emerging markets in Asia, amid shrinking domestic sales, the three companies are accelerating operations to hire Asian graduates in their home countries and those studying at Japanese universities.

The firms hope to promote them to company executives in the future to lead their operations in the Asian markets, the officials said.

Fast Retailing, the operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing chain, said it is planning to hire about 300 foreigners, which would account for about 50 percent of its planned new recruits for the year starting next April.

The company hopes to hire people who can work on its plan to open more shops in China and those who can serve as shop managers in Malaysia and Taiwan, where it plans to open its first outlets.

President Tadashi Yanai said the hiring rate of foreign employees will be increased in fiscal 2012, with a plan for up to two-thirds of 1,000 planned new recruits to be foreigners.

Major convenience store change Lawson is boosting recruitment of foreign students graduating from Japanese universities. It will continue hiring about 20 percent to 30 percent of its new recruits from Asian countries, it said. It has already hired 66 foreign graduates in three years from fiscal 2008, accounting for 20 percent of all the new recruits.

Rakuten, which operates the largest Internet mall in Japan, said it will hire 150 foreigners among 600 new recruits it plans to employ in fiscal 2011.

It has agreed with China’s top Internet search engine Baidu Inc. to form a joint venture to launch an online mall in China in the second half of this year and hopes to utilize Chinese engineers to come up with services attracting customers in the Chinese market.

Panasonic Corp. has also been boosting its employment of foreigners.

In fiscal 2011, it plans to increase the number of such employees to 1,100, up by 50 percent from the previous year, the company said.