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How can you start a business in Japan if you are a foreigner?

Setting up a business in Japan may appear as an overly complicated thing to do, especially if you haven’t done it before. A lot of foreigners come to Japan either to start their own business and sell products that are made in Japan. Fortunately, Japan has done a lot in the past decade to streamline this process and structurize it. With a bit of help, you can set up a business in the land of the rising sun without breaking a sweat. There are myriads of sources online. Juggling them to extract all the crucial pieces of information is time-consuming, if not confusing. Missing out just one important step can render your efforts futile.

Step 1: Get a Visa to Start Setting Up a Business in Japan

Foreign nationals are not allowed to start setting up a business in Japan just like that. To start a business in Japan, you will have to obtain one of the required visas. The procedure of getting a visa is quite simple. For business purposes, you will need to obtain either a 4-Months Business Manager Visa or Start-up Visa. Or you can consider an Investor visa.

Japan introduced the 4-Month Business Manager Visa 4 years ago. To get the visa, you will have to prove that you are in the process of starting a company in Japan. Once Japan grants you the visa, you can begin setting up your business the moment you arrive in Japan.

A Start-up visa is a remarkable initiative of Japan’s government to bring in foreign entrepreneurs in Japan. This visa is valid for half a year. The list of required documents for applying for a Start-up Visa is not long. Once you get all the documents ready, you can apply at the immigration bureau. A start-up visa can be extended for another 6 months.

The investor visa is another option for foreign investors looking for opportunities to start a business in Japan. Investor visas can be granted for 1, 3, or 5 years. The duration of the granted period and whether you are able to prolong it depend on the profitability of your business and other relevant business performance metrics. You don’t have to be in Japan to apply for an investor visa. As long as you have the required documents, you can apply from the country you reside in.

Step 2: Secure an Office or Shared Space

The first step of setting up a business in Japan procedure is finding an office or shared space. After all, you need a space to work, and depending on your business model, generate revenue from. You have two options – rent an office in Japan for the short term or for the long term.

Step 3: Get Your Articles of Incorporation Ready

Articles of Incorporation or teikan (定款) are the bread and butter of setting up a business in Japan. These documents determine how the company is going to be managed, and they are different for every type of business structure.

Step 4: Get the Articles of Incorporation Notarized, If you are setting up a gōdō gaisha or GK company, you will only have to notarize revenue stamps, which will cost you 40,000 yen. In Japan, GK is a type of business organization Americans call a limited liability company (LLC).

On the other hand, if you are setting up a kabushiki kaisha or KK company in Japan, you will need to get all your Articles of Incorporation notarized. KK is a type of business organization Americans call share company, stock company, joint-stock company, or stock corporation.

Step 5: Deposit the Initial Capital

You won’t be able to open your company’s bank account in Japan until you’ve completely finished the registration process. You will have to use your personal bank account in Japan to deposit the initial capital.The process is also simple for those of you setting up a subsidiary company in Japan. All you have to do is make a deposit in the Representative Director’s personal bank account.

Step 6: Get all the Documents Ready

Before finally registering your company in Japan, you will need to get a few more documents aside from the ones in the Articles of Incorporation. These documents include a letter of agreement from the director about assuming your company office and the proof of the company’s seal registration completion.

Step 7: File the Application for Business Registration

Once you have everything sorted out, you can file the application for business registration at the Registry Office or Homukyoku. If you are registering a KK type of business registration fee will be a minimum 150,000 yen. For a GK business structure, the registration fee starts at 60,000 yen.

Step 8: Get the Registry Certificate, Seal Certificate, and Corporate Number

After your company is registered, you should acquire the registry certificate, company’s seal certificate, and corporate number. You will need these documents to sign employment and business contracts and to open your official corporate bank account in Japan.

Japan as a country is very technologically advanced and the products that are made in Japan are in high demand around the world because they are durable and of high quality. For that reason, Japan has made a lot of facilities to lure the investors to come produce and sell their products that are proudly made in Japan.

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