The title Procurement Manager means different things to different people, but in a larger multinational corporation this is usually a pretty exciting job. Typically there are two types of procurement positions available in Japan, the more senior role that covers many aspects of the business, and the less so, focusing mainly on managing and improving the procurement process.

The first type is an all-encompassing job with CFO aspects to it. It requires not only process control and proper management of vendors, but also the ability to contribute actively to the company’s bottom line. The manager is forced to challenge vendor pricing and organize evaluations of vendors, which includes looking at their processes, and even questioning the need to buy certain products in the first place. In fact, this position might more accurately be titled Procurement Director.

Typically this kind of job is to be found at the larger multifaceted IT firm, airline company, branded goods manufacturer, or financial firm. A good Procurement Director can save these types of companies millions of dollars a year, and while challenging vendors can actually improve relationships with them. Needless to say, this is a position for highly experienced people, with notonly procurement experience but also experience of working in high-level management teams and dealing with the pressures therein.

Good bilingual skills are mandatory, and particularly the ability to read scribbled notes in Japanese, as well as defend management decisions to headquarters in English. Salaries vary widely, but someone with impeccable credentials can expect JPY15-25MM per year, plus bonuses based on cost-savings made through the year. This type of position is typically open to both Japanese and foreigners, with foreigners often providing a backup role of auditing the procurement operations on behalf of headquarters.

The second type of Procurement Manager is perhaps more traditionally found in smaller foreign trading firms and the buying operations of foreign manufacturers and service firms. This job involves overseeing an established procurement operation where the processes are well defined and where the emphasis is on the candidate’s knowledge of the industry and/or the product range. Often, smaller companies will promote from within for this role, but companies which are tightly controlled from an international head office often like to hire from outside the organization, to keep the operation “honest”.

While a Procurement Manager position is not as prestigious as a Director position, it is a vital stepping stone to the top of the profession. Jobs are usually open to Japanese nationals only, because of the intense daily dealings with vendors and the need to be able to handle all levels of nuance and threat. Bilingual capability is also necessary, but not for board level presentations, as this position often reports to a board-level Director of Operations or CFO. Typical salaries range from JPY12 to JPY18MM per year, plus performance bonuses.

If you have procurement experience and you are fluently bilingual (or at least a fluent Japanese speaker), we have positions open and would like to talk to you. You can contact us here for more information at, by e-mailing or calling 3499-3108.

As always, my contact details are simply: Looking forward to getting some enquiries…