Japan Business FAQ


Doing Business in Japan – F.A.Q.

Question 1:  What visa do I need to conduct business in Japan.

Answer: Japan’s immigration policy has recently changed to encourage foreign businesses to invest in Japan.  As of April 1st 2014, business owners can apply for a “Business Manager Visa” this visa is a temporary 4 month visa which will allow you to incorporate your business in Japan.  Once your business has been incorporated and you have a registered office, you will be able to extend your visa.  The benefit of this immigration policy is that you will be awarded with a residence card immediately, which will allow you to rent an apartment and purchase a pre-paid phone sim.  Depending on your passport, you may enter Japan as a temporary visitor and process this while in Japan. We have included a table of countries eligible for a short term visa exemption below. For more information read our “How to get a Japan Business Manager Visa Guide”(Coming Soon)

Question 2: How easy is it to incorporate a foreign business in Japan.

Answer: Very easy, with the right help.

First, you must choose what type of entity you will register.

A foreign business can incorporate in one of the following four categories:

  • Representative office – Market Research purposes only – NOT ALLOWED to conduct commercial activities, also does not require official registration.
  • Branch office – Simplest way to incorporate, tax is same as local entity, does not require registered office.  Representative and registered address are all that is required.
  • Subsidiary Company – Can be joint stock operation or limited liability company
  • Limited Liability Partnership – Allows you to do business by using a Yugen Sekinin Jigyo Kumiai – Not a corporation, partnership formed only by the equity participants.

Each category has its own advantages and special attributes.  For more information, read our “How to incorporate a business in Japan Guide”.(Coming Soon)

Question 3: How long is the Japanese Sales Cycle?

Answer: In comparison to western companies, the Japanese sales cycle can be quite long.  Japanese companies often come to decisions based on consensus and long meeting processes.  The average decision cycle can involve upwards of 3-4 parties to come to a purchasing decision.  It is very hard for foreign salespeople to adapt to the Japanese way of selling because of this reason.  In addition to this, culturally Japan is a high context sales culture.  What this means is that feedback often needs to be interpreted.  Culturally, Japanese will not say No explicitly.  Often, if the answer is not a definite yes, it is a No. In addition to this, Japanese culture is not eglatarian.  Seniority is very important and is regarded heavily when making decisions.  For more info and advice on how to sell to the Japanese Market, view our “How to sell to the Japanese Market Guide”.(Coming Soon)

Question 4: Do I need to learn Japanese to do business in Japan?

Answer: It is not absolutely necessary but you will need a partner capable of interpretation. Knowing a small amount of Japanese allows Japanese clients to build trust with you quickly.  If you cannot introduce yourself in Japanese you will be working from a disadvantage when you initially meet. We would definitely recommend brushing up your Japanese so that you can confidently greet potential partners.  There are many great free resources for learning Japanese available online.  For business specific vocabulary, please visit our “Japanese Business Vocabulary Page”(Coming soon).

Question 5: What countries do not need to apply for a short term visa to enter Japan?

The following countries are exempt from needing to apply for a Short-Term Visa:

Visa Exemption Country/Region Term of Stay Visa Exemption Country/Region Term of Stay
America Under 90 days Iceland Under 3 months
Canada Under 3 months Ireland Under 6 months
Australia Under 90 days Italy Under 3 months
New Zealand Under 90 days Austria Under 6 months
Argentina Under 3 months Netherlands Under 3 months
Uruguay Under 3 months Greece Under 3 months
Costa Rica Under 3 months Croatia Under 3 months
Chile Under 3 months Switzerland Under 6 months
Under 3 months Sweden Under 3 months
The Bahamas Under 3 months Spain Under 3 months
Mexico Under 6 months Slovak Republic Under 90 days
Visa Exemption Country/Region Term of Stay Slovenia Under 3 months
Singapore Under 3 months Czechoslovakia Under 90 days
Brunei Under 3 months Denmark Under 3 months
South Korea Under 14 days Germany Under 6 months
Taiwan (note 1) Under 90 days Norway Under 3 months
Hong Kong (note 2) Under 90 days Hungary Under 90 days
Macau (note 3) Under 90 days Finland Under 3 months
(note 1) only for holders of passports that have their ID number printed on their passports
(note 2) only for passport holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or British Citizen Overseas (living in Hong Kong)
(note 3) only for Macau Special Administration Region passport holders
France Under 3 months
Bulgaria Under 90 days
Belgium Under 3 months
Poland Under 90 days
Portugal Under 3 months
Monaco Under 90 days
Romania Under 90 days
England Under 6 months

Source: Immigration Bureau of Japan

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