Japan’s Highest-Paid Company Executives Aren’t Actually Japanese

In Japan, expatriates rule when it comes to the biggest pay packages.

Foreigners held eight of the top 10 spots on Bloomberg’s ranking of the country’s best-paid executives last year. SoftBank Group Corp.’s former Chief Operating Officer Nikesh Arora, whose 8 billion yen ($76 million) package topped the list, hails from India. Joseph DePinto, a director of Seven & i Holdings Co. who came in second, and Ronald Fisher, a director at SoftBank who ranked third, are both Americans.

U.S.-sized compensation packages have long been considered taboo in Asia’s second-largest economy. Higher wages in Japan were typically earned by sticking around, thanks to rigid corporate promotion systems based on tenure.

“Traditionally, Japanese employees have been expected to remain at one company and have their salaries go up based on seniority instead of performance,” said Ryota Kimura, a general manager at Japan Exchange Group Inc. and the bourse’s chief representative in New York. “Foreigners don’t fit into that system.”