We conducted a 1-year follow-up study to evaluate the lasting effect of psychosocial characteristics on quality of life among Japanese civil servants. For this purpose, sense of coherence (SOC), which has been associated with adoptive measures in responding to life stress, and job strain components of demand and control, were used. We evaluated 1392 civil servants working in departments related to the municipality of T city in Toyama prefecture, Japan, in the springs of 2001 and 2002 with complete information in both phases of the study. Using validated Japanese versions of WHOQOL-BREF (WHO/QOL-26) and SOC-13 and a self-reported questionnaire on job demand and control in the workplace, we conducted multiple linear regression analysis to assess the effects of above-mentioned characteristics on WHO/QOL-26 domains. After entering first phase scores, age, sex, employment category and negative affectivity into the models, SOC was associated positively with second phase scores in all domains of WHO/QOL-26 (standardized beta coefficients of 0.21, P < 0.01; 0.12, P < 0.001; 0.13, P < 0.001 and 0.07, P < 0.05 for Physical Health, Psychological, Social Relationship and Environment, respectively). In addition job control was related positively to Physical Health, Psychological and Social Relationship domains (standardized beta coefficient of 0.10, p < 0.001; 0.12, p < 0.05 and 0.07, p < 0.05, respectively), while job demand was negatively related to Physical Health domain with a beta coefficient of -0.11, p < 0.001. Higher sense of coherence and job control could result in better subjective feeling of well-being in a 1-year follow-up among Japanese civil servants.