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My introduction to life in Japan started in 2008 when I began studying at a Japanese language school on a student visa. Immediately following this, I worked some 21434 odd part- time jobs, founded a sole proprietorship—a limited liability company—and then finally, in 2011, I incorporated my first business in Japan with Go! Go! Nihon. Due to my experience and background, I am constantly being asked about the process of opening a business in Japan, I am always happy to share what I have picked up. Particularly, I’ve found there are a lot of common misconceptions out there. I wonder who started spreading all this misinformation!
I have heard this so often that even I had started to believe it was true. Having Japanese staff is not mandatory. Neither is having any staff. You can start a company and still get a business investor visa (投資ビザ ) without any employees other than yourself. That being said, having a Japanese person working with you, especially if your Japanese is not at N1 or N2 level, is definitely recommended.
Another misconception here. First of all, if you do not need an investor visa because you have another type of visa (spouse, descendent, working), you can open a company at very little cost. However, even if you do need a business investor visa, you are required only to “invest” (not pay) 5,000,000 JPY, which at the current exchange rate is less than 50,000 USD. The word “invest” means that 5,000,000 JPY must come from abroad into your Japanese bank account so the government can be satisfied that you are bringing in foreign capital. This money can be used to pay office rental fees, employee salaries, or what ever else you may need, money you will need to run your business in the first place.
I am not Japanese, and I did not have a Japanese partner in 2011 when I founded my company. I have heard this many times, but it is absolutely untrue. You can start a business in Japan as a foreign national and obtain a long-term visa.
Not if you don’t want to be. The owner of the company does not have to be a Japanese resident.
I am sorry to ruin the hype that I was building up to this point! Opening a business in Japan is not easy! I have personally founded companies in Europe and other parts of Asia, and I have found that Japan is particularly difficult because:
Since everything isn’t that easy, I’m happy to help and you can send any requests or questions you may have through our website or on LinkedIn. I can also strongly recommend using an immigration lawyer (行政 書士 gyouseishoshi), for example Cosmopolitan in the link below.
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