By ATOM Legal Professional Corporation English speaking lawyers in Japan

There are plenty of benefits to starting your own company or business in Japan — it’s a nation at the forefront of technological innovation, and it’s one of the 10 safest countries in the world according to WorldPopulationReview.com. If you’re a non-Japanese looking to establish your own business in Japan, this article will guide you through the numerous requirements and important points to consider in order to start your business in Japan as soon as possible.

Getting the appropriate visa

If you’re living overseas and looking to start your own company in Japan, the Business Manager visa for Japan is what you’re looking for. The Business Manager visa is valid for a duration of 4 months (with the option of a 1-year extension of stay), and is ideal for individuals who live overseas and are considering starting a company in Japan. The 4-month duration of this visa offers sufficient time for you to open a bank account, register your business, and obtain a residence card (zairyū card) and status of residence.

Requirements to obtain a Business Manager visa

In order to apply for a Business Manager visa and extension, you’ll need to make sure you satisfy the requirements below:

1. Physical office space for your business

You’ll need to secure an office space to run your business in Japan. Whether it’s a corporate office space or your own place of residence in Japan, you’ll need to make sure that it’s a physical office. The Immigration Bureau of Japan will send an officer to your place of business in order to determine if it’s acceptable and meets the necessary requirements for a Business Manager visa. For example, the office space should be separated by a door and walls; a dedicated desk inside of a shared room or a virtual office space is not acceptable.

2. Clear and comprehensive business plan

A comprehensive business plan is integral to your application for a Business Manager visa. On top of providing financial statements like your profit and loss statement and financial projections, you will also need to provide evidence pertaining to your background/personal history — if not, your application for a Business Manager visa may be ruled out due to insufficient evidence. Preparing the Articles of Incorporation (teikan) will also be essential in showing how your company will be managed. As long as you can provide enough evidence to prove that your business stands a good chance of becoming operable and sustainable in the long-run, the Immigration Bureau of Japan will approve your application.

3. Investment

Not only will your company’s financial report be essential in the assessment of your financial stability, it also must clearly show that you’ve invested the minimum amount of 5 million Japanese yen (approximately US$46,200 as of July 1st, 2019) required to establish a business in Japan. Investments you make to your office space will also count towards this investment amount, so keep this in mind if you’re currently in the process of looking for a location to establish your business in Japan.

4. Staff

The Japanese government requires that your company has at least one full-time employee who is either a Japanese national, a permanent resident, a spouse or child of a Japanese national, a spouse or child of a permanent resident, or a foreign national with a long-term visa. In some cases, this requirement can be waived in lieu of a 5 million yen or more investment in your business. As an employer, you must also make sure that your company is fully compliant with Japanese laws and regulations for labor conditions — click here to take a look at our in-depth article on employment laws.

In order to obtain the Business Manager visa, you will have to submit the required documents set forth by the Immigration Bureau in Japan well before your arrival date in Japan. We recommend taking a look at this site for more information on what you’ll need.

Requirements to obtain a start-up visa

The start-up visa for Japan is a status of residence that allows you to establish your own business without meeting some of the strict requirements of the Business Manager visa. The start-up visa has a validity period of 6 months, and was established as part of a program to increase the number of foreign entrepreneurs in Japan. This program enables successful applicants to receive the same visa status of Business Manager without meeting all of its conditions, provided that the applicant can provide sufficient evidence for fulfilling these conditions within the 6-month validity period. 

As the start-up visa system is part of a government program, it is limited to specific cities (referred to as “International Strategic Zones”) in Japan. Each city/zone has their own procedures and requirements for the start-up visa, so please make sure to check out the requirements for the city you want to start your business in by checking the links below:

It’s also important to note that all the documents you’ll be submitting to the local government of your city in Japan will have to be in Japanese, including your business plan. If your application has been approved by the local government, you will receive a recommendation letter which you will use to apply for your start-up visa at the Immigration Bureau of Japan.

Seek out an English-speaking lawyer

Starting your own business in Japan will require an immense amount of time, effort, and preparation. This article only touches on the fundamental requirements of this process, so we highly recommend you get in touch with an English-speaking lawyer in Japan by calling 03-6868-8647 for a professional consultation or using our online contact form to help you get started.

This page is intended to be used for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice. For advice from a lawyer, please call the number listed above.

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