More job opportunities for Japan's PhD graduates

People with doctorates have typically had little luck finding jobs in Japan where they can make use of their expertise. Corporate recruiters have often placed more priority on hiring fresh university graduates who can be trained from scratch, but now, some Japanese firms are changing their approach.

Major beverage firm Kirin Holdings set up a website to recruit PhD holders fresh from completing their studies or in mid-career. The company says the ratio of doctoral graduates hired for research posts in fiscal 2023 roughly doubled from a year earlier.

Kadota Tomoyuki of Kirin Holdings says " As a business, we are focusing on health science. We expect researchers from diverse backgrounds can create new value based on new ideas."

Chemical firm Asahi Kasei has been recruiting around 20 PhDs every year. It has been hiring year-round since 2023 to secure more post-doctoral talent.

The overall trend is still bleak, however.

The Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, says less than 20 percent of firms that responded to a survey last year plan to hire more PhD graduates in the next few years.

The education ministry says the number of students advancing to doctoral courses has almost halved in around 40 years, partly due to the poor job prospects.