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Japan is overwhelmingly an appealing place to live, but the experience of working for Japanese companies is not as alluring, according to a new survey of foreign students and workers.

The survey, conducted by the Japan Association for Promotion of Internationalization (JAPI), found 82.7 percent of 819 respondents said they felt living in Japan was either very appealing or somewhat appealing.

However, when it came to working in Japan only 22 percent responded that they were fascinated, while about half of respondents said they felt working for a Japanese company was either unappealing or very unappealing.

By nationality, the survey found respondents from North America were least enthused about working in Japan, with 61.5 percent saying a career with a Japanese firm was not an appealing choice.

However, the sentiment changed for respondents from East Asia, with 37 percent answering that working at Japanese firms was appealing, while only 32.8 percent said it was not appealing.

Asked in a multiple-choice question about the problems they might face at a Japanese firm, 57.6 percent of all respondents cited long working hours, followed by unequal treatment of foreign workers at 53.9 percent, the unique communication style such as tatemae (facade) at 42 percent and slow promotion rate at 27.3 percent.

The survey results “clearly brought out the bad image of Japanese firms,” said Austin Zeng, a University of Tokyo student from Singapore who led the research, which will be handed over to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Friday.

“Hopefully, company personnel will find the result of this survey useful” for understanding the problems faced by foreign workers, Zeng said, adding the next step was to sketch out an image of an ideal company for both Japanese and foreign workers and urge changes to tradition-bound companies.

Of the 819 respondents, 244 were from Southeast Asia, followed by 223 from the U.S. and Canada, 146 from Europe, and 73 from East Asia.

The online survey, carried out in Japanese and English from October to mid-November, asked non-Japanese who have lived in Japan and Japanese who have returned home after living abroad.

The full results can be found at jtim.es/VHfVp.

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