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Tokyo Freelancers

The Growth of the Gig Economy in Japan: An Interview with Appen

Richard ClaytonRichard Clayton
June 26, 2019

Japan, a nation long known for its practice of lifetime employment, has recently begun to open its doors to the gig economy. Slowly warming up to the idea of a flexible and remote workforce, and embracing new career arrangements, Japanese employees are seeking more individual freedom than ever before.

Japan is Embracing the Gig Economy

The rise of freelancing has seen a significant shift from Japan’s traditional employment system.  A report published by Lancers, one of Japan’s leading online talent marketplaces, found that the number of freelancers in Japan saw a 23% growth rate from 2015 to 2018. There’s the younger generation who work full-time and take on side-jobs to make more money, and there are those who start a freelancing career after having a baby or retiring.

According to Forbes, Japanese tech talent is well-respected across Asia, and Japanese freelancers are hired a great deal by company units overseas. The completion is high as well due to the fact that non-natives speak Japanese sufficiently. In addition, Payoneer data shows that there’s been a 125% year-over-year increase in earnings of Japanese freelancers from 2018 to 2019.

As of 2018, over 7 million Japanese have taken on at least two jobs — that’s 11% of the workforce. With the rise of workers eagerly trying to make extra cash, the Japanese government has loosened rules that banned or discouraged employees from signing up for side jobs. More and more companies are welcoming remote workers with open arms and are slowly putting an end to closed borders for foreign workers. In fact, earlier this year, the Japanese government set new policies and provided work visas for over 300,000 foreign workers, relieving many skill shortages.

Appen is Diving into the Japanese Freelance Market

Appen, a global leader in the development of high-quality human-annotated training data, supports millions of contractors across the globe who are searching for remote opportunities. With the rise of freelancing in Japan and the urge for many employees who want to adapt to a more flexible lifestyle, Appen is breaking into this market by offering remote jobs in the fields of translation, social media evaluation, localization, and more.

Recently, Payoneer sat down with Appen to discuss the Japanese freelance market and what it’s like to freelance for Appen.

Can you sum up what Appen is and what the company does?

Appen collects and labels images, text, speech, audio, and video used to build and continuously improve the world’s most innovative artificial intelligence systems. We offer remote and online opportunities for workers all around the world, including Japan, an emerging market for the gig economy. We also partner with technology and eCommerce companies to help them expand into global markets.

With expertise in more than 180 languages, a global crowd of over 1 million skilled contractors, and the industry’s most advanced AI-assisted data annotation platform, Appen solutions provide the quality, security, and speed required by leaders in technology, automotive, financial services, retail, manufacturing, and governments worldwide.

Is Appen hiring?

Yes! We’re currently seeking independent contractors in Japan for exciting remote opportunities. They range from simple tasks that can be completed in less than one hour to ongoing projects that last for months or longer.

What qualities do you look for when hiring remote workers?

We look for a variety of skill sets, from those who use social media regularly to candidates who have a degree in linguistics. Some top qualities are, but not limited to: self-motivated and internet-savvy, ability to work with different online applications and troubleshoot software, as well as execute instructions independently.

We hire independent contractors for these jobs and they create and manage their own business. If you are an independent contractor, you are self-employed.

What do you consider the biggest benefits of remote work?

There are many benefits of remote work, especially if you’re a person who prefers to set your own schedule. Working with Appen can help you return to the workforce after taking some time off and help you learn new skills along the way. Since the schedule is flexible, you can work for Appen while you’re in school or at another job. If you’ve always dreamed about owning your own business, this is a great way to get started. Studies show that remote work is now the way of the future.

How do I apply?

Visit Appen’s career page to see what’s available. You’ll be asked to complete the registration form and will be screened for eligibility. Appen looks for candidates with a range of experience in social media, web search, mobile device usage, translation or transcription experience, degrees in linguistics, and more.

How do I get paid and how often do I get paid?

Contractors invoice Appen the work they complete. Payments are issued through Payoneer on a monthly basis and will be received in US dollars.

Can I freelance while still working a full-time job?

Of course! One of the many benefits of working for Appen is that you can work part-time on your own schedule while still working a full-time job. However, you should always check with your workplace about rules regarding freelancing or side jobs.

The gig economy offers endless opportunities for those who want to enhance their careers and earn more money on the side. Slowly but surely, freelancing and remote work in Japan is becoming a more respected career alternative to full-time employment.


The content provided in this article including any information relating to pricing, fees, and other charges is accurate and valid only as of the date it was published. In addition, changes in applicable regulations, policies, market conditions, or other relevant factors may impact the accuracy of the mentioned pricing and fees and other associated details. Accordingly, it is further clarified that any information regarding pricing, fees and other charges is subject to changes, and it is your responsibility to ensure you are viewing the most up to date content applicable to you. Payoneer will provide the most up to date and accurate information relating to pricing and fees as part of the account registration process. Registered customers can view this information via their online account.

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