Some answers to questions we frequently get asked:

SME Japan

How SME Japan is different from other companies in your field?

We have been providing not only business advice on establishing and running a business in Japan, but we have also been delivering customized solutions to companies and individuals for over 20 years. Our personalized approach helps our clients to effectively achieve their business goals while avoiding unnecessary expenses.

What kind of business advice do you give?

Each individual business is different and that’s important.  It can’t be a one-fits-all scenario.  We want to assist your business as much as possible, and that’s why we take the time to talk with you and understand your goals and outcomes.  We have and can handle it all: immigration, company incorporation, accounting, tax, office rental and nominee directors services just to name a few. Contact us today.

What industries do you specialise in?

The list is long and varied. The easy answer is that we don’t specialise in anyone one industry. We take each business on its merits and assist in anyway we can to help your Japanese business succeed.

Do you offer individually tailored services?

Most definitely, that is important to you and us. Starting a business in Japan is difficult to start with, there is no point in complicating the setup and paying for services you don’t need.

Is there someone I can speak to in person?

Of course! Please, fill in our contact form and we will be in touch shortly.

Starting Your Business

Is it worth trying to enter Japanese market?

Definitely yes. As Japan becomes more and more open towards foreign entrepreneurs, it offers more and more business development opportunities. It is open to innovations, new products and services. The task might seem overwhelming, but only if you are trying to do it all on your own. We are happy to assist you in planning and implementation of Japanese market entry as well as business operations at any moment.

What are the main challenges that foreign companies face in Japan?

The main challenge is to navigate the complicated and tightly regulated legislative framework. We are here to help you navigate this system and comply with the requirements fast and smoothly.

What do I start from?

Not knowing where to start is a common problem for all the fresh entrepreneurs. Setting up and putting your business on track may seem difficult and challenging but we are here to take that stress away from you. Our company provides startup support to new businesses and can help you to navigate the process of incorporation, make sure your company is in line with all the regulations, and advise on how to proceed with your operations in the future.

What if my business suffers sudden losses or expenses?

No worries, this is what business insurances are for. We provide advice on business insurance options available in Japan and their combinations. Moreover, we can help you to choose an insurance plan that suits your business type and needs.


How long does the incorporation process last?

Individuals who are looking to set up a business in Japan will need around 4 to 6 weeks, assuming there are no external factors that may change this.

What types of business entities are there in Japan?

From all the variety of available options, foreign companies usually chose to open a representative office, a branch office, or a subsidiary company. You can learn more about types of incorporation from our Incorporation Guide.

Who can engage in commercial registration with the Legal Affairs Bureau?

Anyone can do that. Still, asking for help of an experienced expert will make the process faster and smoother.

Can a non-resident of Japan become a representative of a company?

Yes, if it is a subsidiary company. However, if you are opening a branch office, then at least one of the representatives must be a resident in Japan with the Japan-based address.

Can I change the type of the company I have established?

Usually, you will have to close the current entity and re-open it in another capacity. If you are not sure what type of incorporation you need or you would like to change the type of it, we are happy to assist you with it.

Where to find funds for my business?

Our company can assist you in rising funds in Japan for your new or existing venture. Please, be sure to contact us in order to start planning your fund-raising activities in time.

Can I buy or sell an existing business in Japan?

Yes, of course. If you would rather prefer to acquire an established business or if you are considering selling yours, our company can help you to understand the process of business exiting planning and implementation as well as mergers and acquisitions.

Office in Japan

Does it take long to set up an office in Japan?

The set-up time varies depending on the type of office you have chosen for you company. It may take as little as one month. To learn more about offices in Japan, see our Office Guide or contact us directly for advice and time estimate for your particular case.

How much does it cost to set up an office in Japan?

The sum may vary depending on what type of office you intend to open. However, in every case the price will consists at least of establishment fees and tax notice fee. If applicable, other expenses may include personnel hiring, visa support fees, etc. Our Set-Up Cost Estimates Guide may help you to calculate an approximate sum. Be sure to contact us if you have more questions.

Are there alternatives to a traditional office in Japan?

Yes, there are. Beside traditional offices, there are also co-working spaces, shared offices, virtual offices and many more to choose from. We can help you to choose and rent the right type of office.

Do you deal with office operations support?

Yes, we provide many office-related support services. For example, dealing with the office equipment, its installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting. We can also help with Apple Mac OS and Microsoft Windows software, Wi-Fi connection in your office, email management, virus protection, etc. Moreover, our company offers website design, set-up, and localization.

Business Operations Support

Can you take care of my accounting?

We will gladly manage your accounting. Our company provides the full range of accounting services, starting with the preparation of the individual income tax for business owners and their employees, to preparation of company’s annual profits and losses statements, to guiding you through what kinds of expenses can be written off and how to do it. When necessary, we can also work in cooperation with your other accountants.

Do you help with bank accounts?

Our company will be happy to help you understand the peculiarities of the banking systems in Japan and to advise on how to proceed with your banking needs. For example, we can assist you in setting up corporate account for you business. In a meantime, you might find our Banking Guide useful for learning the basics of baking in Japan.

Can you assist me in preparation of documents for different applications?

Yes, we help our clients in application process for various permits, licenses, visas, etc. That includes obtaining the information about what documents should be prepared, when and how to submit them, as well as language assistance since a lot of institutions in Japan are not currently able to process applications in English.

Can you assist us in communications with the utility companies?

We manage the vast range of issues related to utility and telephone companies. Our company can handle setting up and maintaining accounts with, for example, telephone, electricity, water and other communal services providers.

Do you help with business marketing and promotion?

Our company can help with business marketing and promotion in many ways: from identifying market niches and potential customers to utilizing social media tools for promotion of your company products and services.

Franchising Your Business in Japan

Is franchising popular in Japan?

U.S. franchising has heavily influenced the development of Japan‘s franchise industry since the early 1970s and there are many well known brands in the market. e.g Starbucks, Subway and Domino’s Pizza.  Although Japanese consumers are generally receptive to U.S. franchise concepts, products and services must be adjusted to local tastes and expectations in Japan to ensure success. A great example of this is McDonalds “Teriyaki Burger”.

Identifying the right business partner in Japan requires time and effort, and it can be difficult to find companies that are willing to invest in master franchise rights or to invest in business concepts that do not have a clear market or strong growth potential in Japan.

Must the franchisor be registered with a professional or regulatory body?

There is no requirement to register the franchise or to pilot one or more outlets before franchising under the Medium and Small Retail Commerce Promotion Act. Trade marks must be registered in order to be protected.

What are the laws regulating franchising?

The Medium and Small Retail Commerce Promotion Act regulates franchising that falls under the definition of “specified chain business”. A “chain business” is defined as a business that, under an agreement with standard terms and conditions, continuously sells or acts as an agent for sales of products and provides guidance regarding management, primarily targeting medium and small retailers.
Apart from the Guidelines concerning the Franchise System under the Anti-Monopoly Act, there is no law that specifically regulates franchising. There are, however, many laws that regulate specific industries or businesses, which may also apply to franchises. The franchisor must therefore comply with the applicable laws and regulations.


Can you manage my taxes?

Of course! Our company can take care of many types of taxation, both for business owners and their employees. We can file your year-end taxes, pension payments, home taxes, consumption taxes, etc.

I have bought / inherited / sold property. How does it affect my taxes?

You might be eligible to pay inheritance or a capital gain tax. The amount of taxes and payment schedules are quite complicated, so do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. And we will help you to handle your payments in a timely manner.

What will happened to my taxes if I leave or close my business or Japan, or leave the country?

Before you leave the country, make sure that you have properly closed all of your operations and/or transfer of business to another owner. We can help you with your exit strategies. As for your taxes, some of your payments may be reimbursed. For example, your lump-sum pension. We would be happy to provide you with more information on what type of tax payments you might get back.

Are there tax deductible transactions in Japan?

The following transactions are eligible for tax deductions:

  • Principle (regular consumption) – if the taxable sales are at least 95%, the consumption tax for this transaction is deductible; otherwise, the amount to be deducted is based on the itemised consumption tax for every purchase. Always keep your invoices and accounts ready to be able to qualify for this deduction.
  • Special Provision (simplified taxation system) – if the taxable sales amount to 200 million yen or less during a specific base period, you may use the final sales tax and the deemed rate of purchases as the consumption tax for these transactions.

Legal Support

Do you help with business visas?

Yes, we do. Getting a business or investor visa is one of the key requirements to start business operations in Japan. Our company is determined to help as many of our clients as we can to obtain one.

Can you guarantee our business visa will be approved?

Whilst we cannot guarantee approvals (because only the Japanese Ministry of Immigration can make a decision about a visa application), we have a very high success rate with applicants that meet all the requirements.

Do you deal with visas for the employees?

Yes, we do. There are many visa options available for different types of employment depending on the industry and employee’s qualification. Whether you need visa for yourself, or you plan to hire a non-Japanese resident who will need a visa to legally perform working duties in Japan, our company will help you to choose the correct type of visa and assist you through the application process. If you want to learn more about different visa options, we suggest you start by reading our Visa Guide to get the general idea about different visa types.

Do I need a license or permission to do business in Japan?

Although not every company needs a license, obtaining a permission to engage in certain types of activities is often a must. For example, if you plan to operate in food industry, medicine production, cosmetics, etc. you will need one since the production has to comply with the set standards. You can find out more by reading out Licensing Guide. We would be happy to answer all of your questions about licensing, to find out if your business needs one, and to help you get all the necessary permits.

Do you deal with legalisation, verification, and other legal matters?

Yes, we do. This is one of the main lines of our services. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need to verify or legalise your foreign-issued documents in Japan. We can help you in finding the right expert and to process your legal matters in the fastest and most efficient way without overpaying.

I would like to have my trademark/patent recognized in Japan. Can you help me?

Yes, our company can help you to get your trademark or patent registered and recognized in Japan in accordance with the country regulations. We assist our clients by helping them to prepare the set of necessary documents and by supporting their application process until the end. Please, contact us if you have any questions.

Human Resources Support

Can you help me hire or dismiss workers?

Human resources is one of our fields of expertise. Weather you need a full-time stuff or temporary/contract personnel, we can provide advice and assistance in all areas of human resources management from understanding of the main regulations to drafting work contracts. To get started you might want to read our Human Resources Guide.

I would like to provide my employees with accommodation, but how do I do it?

We can help you to settle all issues associated with the legal rent for you employees. Please, contact us as soon as you know that you will be taking care of accommodation for the employees.

How to make sure my employees will get their sick leaves and pension covered?

In order for your workers to get paid during their sick leaves, pension, etc. you need to enroll them into health and pension insurance programs. There are several options of such insurance available for different types of workers. Our team will make sure that your employees are enrolled into all the necessary insurance programs and systems depending on their contract type. If you feel like learning more about these programs, you can start by reading our Healthcare and Pension Guide.