How to Invest in Japan
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Japan has been historically low at 1-2% of GDP. The Japanese government recognises the need to increase this to bring in fresh blood into the Japanese economy and set a target to double this between 2001-2006 which it achieved. A new target to raise FDI stock against GDP to 5% by 2010 was announced and the government continues to make efforts to increase this figure. The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), whose chief function used to be to promote imports into Japan (to counter international criticism of Japanese trade surpluses in the 1980/90s), has become primarily an inward investment promotion agency.
JETRO provides consultation for entry strategy to foreign companies and also a fixed term free office space in Tokyo and other major cities in Japan for foreign companies until they find a permanent location. Local governments are also welcoming of FDI and have subsidy programmes (for feasibility study or market visits to explore the possibility of investing in a specific region) and free/low cost incubation facilities.
The US is by far the largest investor in Japan, followed by European countries such as France, Germany and the Netherlands. There are around 450 UK companies with a presence in Japan.
UK investors include Astra Zeneca, GSK, GKN, Shell, BT, Smith & Nephew, Symbian, ARM, HSBC, Barclays Capital, RBS, Tesco, Travelex, Lush and many others.
There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of a company except for regulated business sectors such as broadcasting, telecommunications and civil aviation.
Setting up a company in Japan has become less onerous and less expensive. There is a wealth of information, including on the forms of entities and practicalities of setting them up, to be found on JETRO's "Invest Japan!" website at www.jetro.go.jp/en/invest
The British Industry Centre (BIC) was set up in 1998 with the aim of providing an easier starting point for UK companies to set up in Japan. It is located in Hodogaya, Yokohama City (45 minute train journey from central Tokyo) in a contemporary office building, Yokohama Business Park. It offers British companies affordable accommodation and communal meeting rooms and secretarial support and has been home to more than 30 British companies of which many have grown their business significantly to the extent that they needed to locate into larger offices. Further details are available at - www.bccjapan.com/asp/general
TOKYO AIM is an equity market for growing international companies and is a joint venture between the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. Their website is at www.tokyo-aim.com.
Source - UKTI