Japan is a land of opportunity for business, both local and international. Companies from around the world open offices in Japan, as it is a market where international products are welcomed. Many entrepreneurs launch products in Japan on a regular basis.
If you are considering starting your own business in Japan, there’s a lot you need to know first! Here’s how you can get started with your business:
1. Choose the Type of Company
In order to start your business, you need to determine what type it will be. Your options are:
- Branch office -- This is for foreign companies that wishes to conduct business in Japan.
- Subsidiary company -- Also for foreign companies that wish to conduct business in Japan, but the company stock is co-owned by Japanese partners.
- Representative office -- This is for foreign companies planning to set up shop in Japan in the future. A representative office can do the research necessary to evaluate the pros and cons of doing business in Japan.
Think carefully about what type of company you are going to set up.
(Read more about these three company types here…)
2. Get the Right Visa
As with any other country, you need the right visa in order to conduct business on Japanese soil. To obtain the visa, you’ll need a valid passport, which you will take to the Japanese embassy in your own country to apply for the visa.
To work in Japan, you’ll need one of the following types of visas:
- Investor/business manager -- This is ideal if you are planning to start your own company or manage a business in Japan.
- Skilled laborer -- This is for those with specialized skills, including industrial techniques.
- Intra-company transferee -- If you are working for a multinational corporation and are moving from your home country to Japan, this is the visa for you.
- Legal/accounting services -- This is only for those who will work in legal and accounting companies.
There are many more types of visa, but the ones mentioned above should be the most relavent. Regardless of the type of visa, in order to apply for one you will need:
- Application for visa
- Certificate of Eligibility and copy thereof
- Full-face photograph (1-2 photos, 4.5 cm in height x 4.5 cm in width)
To find out more about getting a work visa in Japan, check out the resources on the JETRO website.
3. Understand Taxes
All profits generated by your corporation or company in Japan will be subjected to taxes. There are a number of corporate taxes, including:
- Corporate income tax
- Corporate holding tax
- Corporate estate tax
The Japan External Trade Organization has a lot of information on the taxes that will need to be paid. Find more information the JETRO website...
4. Obtain the Proper Permissions
Depending on the type of business you want to conduct, you will need to obtain special permissions and licenses from the Japanese government. For example:
- Food and drink businesses (coffee shops, restaurants, confectionaries, and liquor stores) need permission from the Japanese health department
- Travel businesses must be certified for travel business and management
- Temp companies must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Labor
- Investment and consulting companies need licensing from the Japanese Bureau of Finance
- Tour guides and interpreters need a license from the Japan National Tourist Organization
The Japanese Licensing and Permissions website can provide a lot of information and help you determine exactly what licenses you need.
5. Understand Your Obligations to Employees
As the employer, you need to learn the Japanese labor laws by heart. There is a lot to learn, such as:
- How to write proper labor contracts
- Fair wages
- Working hours and days
- Breaks, days off, vacation days, holidays
- Work rules
- Hygiene and safety in the workplace
The Japan External Trade Organization has a lot of information to help you out…
6. Register Your Trademark and Design
As with any country, you need to register both your logo design and your company’s trademark. The trademark system protects your commercial reputation, helping your clients to identify your products, and making it possible for you to publicize the goods or services you are selling.
To register your trademark, you will need to fill out the forms on the JETRO Trademark page. This submits your desired trademark and/or logo for review, ensuring that they are unique. The JETRO page has more information about registering Trademark and Design.
See Also: 7 Things You Need to Start a Business
It may not be like a dream, but Japan is certainly not the hardest place in the world to start a business.