The bonus that isn’t

One of the more insidious economic practices in Japan is the bonus system. Bonuses are regularly handed out to workers and management twice a year, whether you work in the private or the public sector. Traditionally, they are almost never considered merit-based or, for that matter, even performance-based (performance in terms of company profits, that is). The bonus amount depends on seniority and position, and in practical terms is looked upon not as a “bonus” in the Western sense, but simply as an integral part of the annual salary. However, calling it a bonus gives the employer a lot of leeway and a kind of safety valve when times are tough. It can also be disastrous for people with mortgages. Read More