Facing cut-throat competition from the international market, Japanese companies are stepping up efforts to hire people from India, China and other emerging countries, reaching out for talent across national borders.

Technology companies are no exception to the trend of cross-border talent hunting as they try to survive the crucial phase.

Harshad Maral, an Indian engineer who was hired by Sony Corp in 2010, is a Sony aficionado whose enthusiasm for the company shames even his Japanese colleagues.

“I’m happy to be able to work in the company’s head office, where creative work and core operations are concentrated,” Maral was quoted as saying by Kyodo agency.

He has been fascinated by Sony’s commitment to innovation since he read a book written by Akio Morita, the company’s iconic co-founder, while studying at university.

In 2011, Sony introduced a fast-track training programme for entry-level foreign workers at its offices in Asia and West Asia, aiming to foster management skills quickly.

This is an attempt to give foreign workers higher motivation by providing the chance to move up the career ladder without being held back by the traditional Japanese system of promotion.

But Japanese companies have made work conditions difficult by prolonging working hours for employees and curbing holidays, the report said.

Employees discover that working long hours, regardless of productivity, is a badge of honour for the companies.

“When I left the office on time after finishing my work for the day, I was rebuked for not working hard enough and was told to stay longer,” a 26-year-old man said on condition of anonymity.

“The people who worked until late at night, and not the people who produced results, received employee commendation awards,” he added.

Lack of holidays is a popular source of grumbling among foreign expatriates.

“I have only three or four days to enjoy my time back at home. Two weeks off would be better,” said 26-year-old Vakkhova Liudmila, a Russian working for Marubeni Corp.

Opening the door wide to foreign workers, as well as giving women more working opportunities, is a national challenge for Japan, as advocated by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe under its growth strategy, as the ageing society and shrinking population continue to curtail the ranks of working-age Japanese.

According to a survey conducted by Recruit Career Co on companies employing five or more workers and hiring new workers, around 20 per cent hired at least one foreigner as an entry-level worker in 2014. Next year, around 30 per cent are planning to do so.