GOING GLOBAL ACCESS ASIA EXPORTING TO JAPAN - A guide for clients - #GlobalAmbition - Enterprise Ireland

A guide for clients



Japanese Yen



GDP Growth for 2018


Unemployment Mar. 2018                                  Kanto

             3                                  Chubu


Predicted economic           Shikoku

growth            4
for 2019

Enterprise Ireland client
exports (2018)


GDP per capita for 2018

c. ¤33,331

Japan, “land of the rising sun” is known for its vibrant culture, nature, food
and cutting-edge technology. Its recent economic turnaround spells new
opportunities for businesses across a range of sectors in a country with a
world-class economy.
The Japanese market is a rewarding one for products
and services, in part because Japanese companies
                                                               REASONS TO INCLUDE JAPAN IN
and consumers are prepared to pay premiums for                 YOUR EXPORT STRATEGY
quality, reliability and good service.

With key policy shifts opening opportunities in                Japan ranked 5th in 2018
sectors such as Information and Communication
                                                               in the world for global
Technology (ICT), banking and renewable energy,
rising inbound tourism leading up to the 2020 Tokyo
Summer Olympics and the EU-Japan Economic
Partnership Agreement, this is a country which offers          Japan ranks 1st in OECD
strong business opportunities for Irish firms willing to
                                                               countries for mobile
make the commitment needed for export success.
                                                               broadband connections
Japan is the third largest economy in the world -
                                                               per 100 inhabitants10
with GDP at around ¤4 trillion7– nearly twice the
size of the UK and its GDP per capita is more than
four times that of China.8 It is an established home           Japan accounted for nearly
of innovation and has expertise in a wide range of             30% of AI related patent
industries, particularly in technology, machinery and
biomedical research.
                                                               applications during
                                                               2010-15, the largest share
Sectoral success
                                                               of any OECD country11
•	ICT is Japan’s largest industry, offering good
   opportunities in Internet of Things (IoT)
   technologies ahead of the expected rollout of               Japan ranks 3rd in
   5G networks in 2020.                                        patent applications
•	Major policy changes in Japan’s financial sector,           worldwide12
   along with booming inbound tourism, has
   already opened doors for Irish Fintech payment
   companies.                                                  Japan is the world’s 3rd largest
  A push towards renewable energy sources since                automobile manufacturing
  the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, along with
                                                               country by production13
  the Japanese Government’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT)
  scheme, provides opportunities including in small            (passenger and commercial
  scale wind turbines.                                         vehicles combined)
•	Japan is one of the largest healthcare and
   pharmaceutical markets in the world with a rapidly
   aging population, providing good opportunities              Tokyo and Osaka are ranked
   for Irish MedTech companies, particularly in                1st and 3rd respectively
   finished implantable devices and diagnostics.               as the safest cities
• Japan is open to world-class innovation and                  in the world14
  technology from Irish companies that can offer
  niche solutions across all sectors.
Business decisions in Japan                                   While bowing is common in Japan, most Japanese
                                                              business people who have dealt with foreign
generally take much longer to be                              companies before will be just as comfortable with
made than Irish business people are                           a handshake. Modesty, patience, and sensitivity are
                                                              characteristics much admired.
used to and involves a protracted
consensus-building process. Irish                             Expect many questions and follow up quickly on any
                                                              requests for further information.
companies need to be prepared
for long sales-cycles and medium-                             Language
                                                              Although there are increasingly more business
term results...and not to expect
                                                              level English speakers, the overall level of English
many “quick wins”. However,                                   proficiency in Japan is still moderate to low.
once a decision is taken business                             Ask the people you are meeting in the Japanese
relationships tend to endure.                                 company beforehand if they are comfortable
                                                              conducting the meeting in English. If not, hire a
Travelling and geography                                      professional interpreter. Make sure that documents
                                                              (e.g. business cards, contracts, marketing material,
Many Japanese companies have their headquarters
                                                              presentations, websites, etc.) are translated
in the capital city of Tokyo, yet there are business
                                                              professionally into Japanese.
opportunities in other large cities such as Yokohama,
Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Sapporo
                                                              Routes to market
The largest international airport in the country is
                                                              DISTRIBUTORS: Japanese distributors can be very
Narita Airport, about 60 km from Tokyo. There
                                                              discerning so be sensitive to their concerns, answer
are a smaller number of international flights that
                                                              their detailed questions patiently and promptly,
serve Haneda Airport, less than 30km away from
                                                              and go to meetings prepared to provide detailed
downtown Tokyo. Kansai Airport, which serves the
                                                              information and strong unique selling propositions.
cities of Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto, is located about
40km from Osaka.                                              DIRECT SALES: Appreciation of cost-cutting,
                                                              easier communication and a rise in English-capable
Try to avoid travelling to Japan for business during
                                                              employees has increased the potential for direct sales
the main holiday seasons. These include Golden
                                                              in Japan. However, most foreign SMEs enter with the
Week (end April to early May) and the New Year
                                                              support of local partners, so carefully consider the
(late December to early January). Full details can be
                                                              risks versus benefits of such an approach.
found on the Japan National Tourism Organization’s
website: https://www.japan.travel/en/plan/business-           AGENTS: Agents generally operate on a smaller scale
hours-and-holidays/                                           and have specific industry expertise. For example,
                                                              this works efficiently in the case of identifying
Japan is nine hours ahead of GMT (8 hours in the
                                                              licensing partners of specific technologies in the ICT
summer). There is no daylight savings time (DST) in
                                                              PATHFINDERS: Pathfinders can play a very important
Business culture                                              role given the scale of the market and the depth of
Business meetings tend to be arranged at least four           knowledge and contacts required to penetrate niche
weeks in advance. Securing meetings at short notice           business areas.
can be difficult and may give Japanese companies
                                                              PARTNERSHIPS: A variety of partnership options are
the impression that you are unprepared and
                                                              possible, including joint ventures, licensing, and R&D
potentially disrespectful. Punctuality is an absolute
must in Japan. Arrive at all meetings 10 minutes early.

                                                              Market trends
                                                              The economic policies being pursued by the Japanese
                                                              Government, known as ‘‘Abenomics’’, point to a

                                                              period of change in the country, with a liberalisation
                                                              of policies to stimulate growth and stoke inflation.
                                                              Japan’s corporate sector, particularly its large-scale
                                                              exporters, are in very good financial health.

                                                              Market segmentation
                                                              With a population of 126 million, Japan is a large and
Market landscape                                              diverse market. Having a clear understanding of the
Irish companies have historically found Japan to              market dynamics of the specific industry sector being
be a challenging market, not least because of the             targeted is necessary.
time and patience needed to manage lengthy sales
cycles and the associated cost of entry. However,             Competitors
there are notable exceptions and Japan can be a               Japan is a mature market with well-entrenched
very significant market for innovative, leading-edge          domestic and international competitors. New
Irish technology. There are many success stories from         entrants need to research the market thoroughly
companies that have world-class capability who have           to identify a niche offering that is innovative and
committed strategically to this market.                       leading-edge in technology. Without this it will be
Irish companies that are best positioned to win in            difficult to win new business.
Japan tend to have the following attributes:
                                                              Market research
• A world-class technology, product or service
                                                              Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre offers
  innovation with a clear value proposition
                                                              client companies access to market intelligence in
• The commitment to stay the course over lengthy              the form of company, sector, market, and country
  sales cycles                                                information to explore opportunities and compete in
• A budget to travel regularly initially and ultimately       international markets.
  to have in-market representation
                                                              The Japanese External Trade Organisation (JETRO)
• The ability to deal with demanding technical and            provides comprehensive and regularly updated
  customer servicing requirements                             information and support for companies entering and
                                                              trading in the Japanese market. For more information
EU trade deal
                                                              visit: www.jetro.go.jp/en/
The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement
(EPA) entered into force on February 1st. The EPA             EU business in Japan (run by the EU-Japan Centre
removes trade barriers to Japan for Irish companies           for Industry Cooperation) provides a wide range
and will bolster Japanese interest in the Irish               of information and resources on doing business in
market. This trade agreement boosts opportunities             Japan. It also provides a help desk for questions
for Irish companies in sectors such as agri-food,             regarding the EU-Japan EPA. For more information
pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and industrial              visit: www.eubusinessinjapan.eu/
products.                                                     Nikkei, which owns the Financial Times, is one of the
The agreement also addresses non-tariff barriers with         main sources of business information in Japan and is
Japan agreeing, for example, to adapt international           published daily in English:
guidelines and quality management systems for                 https://asia.nikkei.com/?n_cid=NARAN1001
medical devices and pharmaceuticals, allowing Irish
                                                              Boots on the ground
companies to reduce costs and increase efficiency on
certification and compliance.                                 Because of the significance of relationship building
                                                              in Japanese business culture, it is important to visit
The EPA also includes provisions designed to ensure           Japan regularly in the initial stages to build a strong
a level-playing field and non-discriminatory practices        and visible local presence. Depending on the nature
in the services market, where Irish companies may             of the business, aiming for in-market representation
particularly benefit in telecommunications and                in the longer-term can be important, especially
financial services. It is important to bear in mind,          for products and services that require demanding
however, that the EPA will not affect the fundamentals        technical and customer support.
of successfully doing business in Japan. More
                                                              JETRO can provide free office space in central Tokyo
information about the EPA and a help desk that can
                                                              and several other locations. This office space at its
answer questions regarding the EPA can
                                                              Invest Japan Business Support Center (IBSC) can be
be found here:
                                                              used for up to 50 days. For more information:
https://www.eu-japan.eu/epa-helpdesk                          www.jetro.go.jp/en/invest/ibsc.html

Information and Communication                                    Strong inbound tourism is on track to deliver 40
Technology (ICT)/Digital                                         million overseas visitors by 2020, bringing clear
                                                                 opportunities for payment service providers. Irish
With some of the most advanced ICT infrastructure
                                                                 companies have already been successful in Japan in
and highest broadband penetration in the world, the
                                                                 the areas of biometric authentication technologies,
ICT sector is Japan’s largest industry, with a market
                                                                 insurance technology and financial services for
size of ¤720 billion and accounting 9.9% of real GDP
                                                                 Japanese corporates in international markets.
in 201515. The Japanese Government is accelerating
efforts to effectively utilize and integrate ICT into
                                                                 Life Sciences
society, particularly in areas related to Internet of
Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data.        Japan’s global share of medical devices is 8.9%, third
                                                                 largest after the US and Germany.18 In 2020, over a
There are good opportunities in the growth of the IoT            third of the Japanese population will be 60 or older.
services sector, especially with the expected rollout            A focus on a high level of care combined with the
of 5G networks in 2020. The Japanese IoT market                  high elderly population makes Japan an attractive
was worth ¤51 Billion in 2018, and is expected to                end market for medical device manufacturers.
grow to 93 billion in 2022 at CAGR of 13.3%.16 In the
field of Agri-IT/IoT, for example, trade liberalisation in       Japan’s medical device market size is over ¤20
agricultural products through free trade agreements              billion.19 Firms with finished medical devices and
are strongly pushing Japanese farmers to become                  innovative products that compete within specific
more efficient in adopting technology for higher                 areas of medical devices such as implantables and
performance. Agri-cloud, quasi-zenith satellite/space            diagnostics have potential in the Japanese market.
IoT are enabling new services in relation to location
based information services for agriculture.
                                                                 Renewable energy and electricity
                                                                 In the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake
Smart tourism and data analytics is a high priority
                                                                 and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Japanese
for the Japanese Government in light of growing
                                                                 Government is pushing to diversify its energy
inbound tourism and the 2020 Summer Olympics.
                                                                 mix, including the expansion of renewable energy.
Information access to tourism spots, parking, real-
                                                                 Renewable energy’s share of the total energy
time transport, credit card purchases and beacon
                                                                 market is projected to rise from 10.7% in 2013 to
sensor based services will play an important role
                                                                 approximately 22% to 24% in 2030.20
in revitalising the local economy and fill the gaps
between cities and rural regions.                                The Japanese Government’s implementation of a
                                                                 Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme in 2012 has driven this
5G infrastructure enables enormous data transaction,
                                                                 growth in renewables. Although prices for wind
allowing easy transmission of Ultra-high-definition
                                                                 power for 20kW or more have decreased since 201721,
images for health and autonomous services.
                                                                 there are still opportunities for small wind turbines
                                                                 below the 20kW category.
Financial services and Fintech
With Japan’s growing appetite for engagement with                Industrial applications
innovative Fintech companies that deliver best-in-
                                                                 Although Japan’s industrial technologies are
class services and technology, the country’s Fintech
                                                                 world-class, the market is open to Irish companies
sector is projected to grow rapidly from ¤7.5 billion in         that provide innovative and niche solutions that
2016 to ¤15.4 billion in 202117.                                 are not offered by their Japanese counterparts,
Recent changes in banking legislation allows banks to            for example in the area of specialised agriculture
invest in Fintech companies. This legislative change             machinery. The key is in providing world-class
has already allowed Japan’s three “mega banks”                   technology and innovation.
(MUFG, SMBC and MHFG) to establish links with Irish
Fintech companies.


Visa requirements                                              Key taxes
Irish passport holders are granted entry into Japan            The standard national corporate tax rate for
as a temporary visitor, with the possibility of                companies with paid-in capital under JPY 100 Million
extending their stay to a total of six months. Entry           and taxable income over 8 million yen is 33.59%.24
into Japan initially is typically on a 90-day permit,          Up to date information on taxation in Japan can be
but application for an extension can be made at an             found on the JETRO website, see here:
immigration bureau in Japan.22 For more information            https://www.jetro.go.jp/en/invest/setting_up/
on visa requirements see Japan Ministry of Foreign             section3/page3.html
Affairs’ website:
www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/index.html                    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Tokyo One-
                                                               Stop Business Establishment Center provides services
Import rules and regulations                                   for foreign companies establishing a business in
                                                               Japan, including support for company registration,
Tariff rates are routinely revised and subject to
                                                               taxes, social security, and immigration. For more
change. For the latest tariff schedule see the Japan
                                                               information see: www.seisakukikaku.metro.tokyo.jp/
Custom’s website:
Tariff rates for EU exports to Japan as of April 2019          Employment
can be found here: http://www.customs.go.jp/                   Employment law in Japan differs significantly
english/tariff/2019_4/index.htm                                from that of Ireland. Lifetime employment and
                                                               strong employee labour law protection can present
Intellectual Property rights                                   challenges for foreign entrants. Professional advice in
The Japan Patent Office (JPO) accepts patent                   this area is therefore essential.
applications on a “first-to-file” principle23, requiring       The Labor Standards Act, the Industrial Safety
submission of an application form along with a                 and Health Act and the Minimum Wage Act apply
description, claims, drawings (if required) and                in principle to all companies in Japan, regardless
abstract of the patent being sought.                           of whether the employer/company registration is
More information on patents can be found on the                Japanese or foreign.
JPO website: www.jpo.go.jp/index.htm                           Upon hiring, employers must notify employees in
Information on trademark and design protection can             writing the conditions of employment, including the
be found on the JETRO website: www.jetro.go.jp/en/             terms of the agreement, the workplace and duties
invest/setting_up/section5/page1.html                          of the employee, matters relating to working hours/
                                                               overtime/holidays/leave of absence, wages, and
Corporate structures                                           matters relating to resignation and dismissal.
There are three main ways for a foreign company to             More details on the application of Japan’s labour laws
establish a business in Japan:                                 can be found on the JETRO website:
• Open a representative office                                 www.jetro.go.jp/en/invest/setting_up/section4/
• Open a branch office                                         page1.html

• Establish a Japanese subsidiary                              and about contractual terms and conditions on:
More details on incorporating in Japan can be found            www.jetro.go.jp/en/invest/setting_up/section4/
on the JETRO website:                                          page3.html

Enterprise Ireland assists clients entering new
markets with:

Pre-visit support
                                                             International trade evnts programme
Prior to engaging with an overseas market, client
                                                             Every year Enterprise Ireland organises an extensive
companies should engage with their Development
                                                             programme of events to support your business
Adviser (DA) and the Enterprise Ireland Market
                                                             abroad. These include:
Research Centre in Dublin to ensure they leverage
                                                             • Inward buyers’ missions to Ireland
the full range of possible supports in preparation for
engaging with the Enterprise Ireland team in the             • Group stands at international trade fairs
market.                                                      • Overseas trade missions
• General market and country level information               • Study visits to gain knowledge of overseas markets
• Sector overview                                            • Client knowledge events including seminars and
• Validation of the opportunity for your product or            workshops
  service                                                    • Networking events to build and enhance
• Evaluation of your market entry strategy                     relationships with market contacts

• Suggested channels to market                               • Further information is available at:
• Competitor analysis
• Relevant contacts/suggested itinerary                      Additional supports
• Summary of relevant market information resources           • Recommendations for translation and
                                                               interpreting services
In-market support
                                                             • Introductions to specialist expertise such as legal,
• Introductions to buyers and decision-makers                  recruitment, public relations and taxation
• Identification of potential partners
• Facilitation of buyer visits to Ireland
• Assistance with product launches/workshops                 Power up your progress by plugging
• Securing reference sites                                   into an Irish network
                                                             Embassy of Ireland, Japan:
Mentors                                                      www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/japan/
Enterprise Ireland has built up an excellent network
                                                             IDA Ireland Japan Office:
of individuals in Japan who are able to work with
Irish client companies on developing their businesses.
This includes market and sector specialists, business        Ireland-Japan Chamber of Commerce:
accelerators and members of Irish business                   www.ijcc.jp/


1.   http://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/jinsui/tsuki/index.html

2. https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2019/01/11/weo-update-january-2019

3. http://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/roudou/results/month/index.html

4. https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2019/01/11/weo-update-january-2019

5    Source: Enterprise Ireland ABR 2018

6. https://www.imf.org/external/datamapper/NGDPDPC@WEO/OEMDC/ADVEC/WEOWORLD/JPN

7.   http://www.imf.org/external/datamapper/NGDPD@WEO/JPN

8. https://www.imf.org/external/datamapper/NGDPDPC@WEO/OEMDC/ADVEC/WEOWORLD/JPN

9. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GCR2018/05FullReport/TheGlobalCompetitivenessReport2018.pdf

10. https://www.oecd.org/japan/sti-scoreboard-2017-japan.pdf

11. Ibid.

12. https://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/wipo_pub_941_2018.pdf

13. http://www.oica.net/category/production-statistics/2018-statistics/

14. https://dkf1ato8y5dsg.cloudfront.net/uploads/5/82/safe-cities-index-eng-web.pdf

15. http://www.soumu.go.jp/johotsusintokei/whitepaper/eng/WP2017/chapter-6.pdf

16. https://www.idcjapan.co.jp/Press/Current/20180314Apr.html

17. http://www.yanoresearch.com/press/press.php/001922

18. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a0cca3fb07869afe916d8f6/t/5afa6faeaa4a9925e9386ed3/1526362048214/0900-
     Wed-CR123-Dougan.pdf (pg.4)

19. http://www.meti.go.jp/committee/kenkyukai/iryou_innovation/pdf/001_05_00.pdf (only in Japanese, pg. 6),

20. https://www.jetro.go.jp/ext_images/en/invest/attract/pdf/en_2016_Energy.pdf (pg.1-2)

21. https://www.jetro.go.jp/ext_images/en/invest/attract/pdf/mr_energy_en.pdf (pg. 6)

22. http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/short/novisa.html

23. https://www.jpaa.or.jp/old/?p=22105

24. http://taxsummaries.pwc.com/ID/Japan-Corporate-Taxes-on-corporate-income



Patrick O’Riordan
Manager Japan and South Korea
Enterprise Ireland, Ireland House 1F,
2-10-7 Kojimachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0083, JAPAN
Tel: +81-3-3263-0611
Email: pat.oriordan@enterprise-ireland.com
Twitter: Enterprise Ireland Asia Pacific: twitter.com/ei_asiapacific
Facebook: www.facebook.com/EnterpriseIreland/

Ireland’s European Structural and Investment Funds Programmes 2014-2020.
Co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Union.
© Enterprise Ireland May 2019

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