Starting a business in a foreign country can be daunting. There is the problem of language and the cultural differences, and the addition of the differences in business laws to the list would be overwhelming. However, these fears could reduce a notch if you knew some incentives and systems have been put in place to help foreigners start a business.

Osaka is one of the special regions in Japan where numerous systems have been put in place to help foreigners start their businesses. One such system is the National Strategic Special Zones (NSSZs). This article focuses on the business benefits given to the NSSZs, with the hope that it would give you the courage to start that business you have been nurturing in your heart.

National Strategic Special Zones (NSSZs)

Some economic zones in Japan have been selected to offer incentives with business-friendly conditions. These initiatives were established by the government of the current Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe in March 2014, as part of the ‘Abenomics’ plan aimed at enhancing international competitiveness in the Japanese business sectors by attracting people and businesses from all over the world. They comprise of six (6) economic zones; the Tokyo area, which comprises of all or parts of Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, Narita city, and Chiba Prefecture; the Kansai area made up of all or parts of Osaka, Hyogo, and Kyoto Prefecture; Niigata City in Niigata Prefecture; Yabu City in Hyogo prefecture; Fukuoka city in Fukuoka Prefecture; and Okinawa Prefecture. Unique reforms were created for each strategic zone, targeting areas ranging from agriculture to employment, to tourism, to medical and health care, and labour market. Deregulation programmes were introduced to these strategic zones to meet the target reforms.

Numerous reforms and deregulations have been introduced, and a few that catch the attention of foreign entrepreneurs are;

The provision of consultation centres for foreign investors in each of the strategic zones

In the Kansai area, this is called the Kansai Employment Consultation Centre (KECC). They offer monthly seminars on labour-related laws, business management practices, and employment guidelines; they offer consultations on Japanese labour and employment rules, and they have lawyers and social insurance attorneys between 11 am and 8 pm on weekdays. The best part of this is that the consultations are free of charge, and are available in English, Chinese, and in Korean.

For more insight, see our article on Kansai Employment Consultation Center

Availability of a ‘Start-up’ Visa

Previously, foreign entrepreneurs could obtain a Business Manager visa only if they could prove to have up to five million yen (¥5,000,000) in their Japanese bank account. For entrepreneurs not yet living in Japan, the bottleneck was that in order to have a Japanese bank account, one must have an address in Japan. To live in Japan in order to have an address, one must have a visa (of any kind). Hence, one encounters the problem of having to obtain another form of visa for the sole purpose of entry into Japan, prior to visa status change. Again, not all foreign entrepreneurs already living in Japan have five million yen lying around in their bank account to enable them change their visa status. This is a major difficulty for non-Japanese entrepreneurs to start up a business in Japan. The strategic zone has approved a ‘Start-up’ visa that requires one to prove the possession of five million yen (¥5,000,000) 6 to 12 months after the visa acquisition. Thus, you can start your business provided your paperwork is complete. Of course, the visa would be revoked if you fail to meet up with the required five million yen (¥5,000,000) after the stated period.

One-stop application centre for the necessary paper works and registration

Typically, in starting up a business in Japan, it is required that one obtains approvals from numerous governmental organisations like the Ministry of Justice for the notary services, Ministry of Finance for tax, matters related to labour from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, to name a few. As part of the goals of the NSSZs to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to start their businesses in these strategic zones, an application centre for all the required administrative approval procedures for a start-up are being established to take it one step closer to achieving this goal.

 The one-stop application centres are currently available in two of the strategic zones: Tokyo and Fukuoka. Since it has been scheduled that a one-stop application centre will be established in all the strategic zones, it is just a matter of time for one to be set up in Osaka!

CONCLUSION

With Osaka being part of the NSSZs, it makes it attractive for foreign entrepreneurs to start up a business. If you have a business in mind, why not use this opportunity and start it?

Notes for the readers:

Please use this article only as a reference, not as a legal guideline. Therefore, sugee.jp will take no responsibility or liability, so far as legally possible, for any consequences of your actions. This article was written on 15 March 2020.

REFERENCES

  • Kansai National Strategic Special Zone Employment Consultation Center. Kansai National Strategic Special Zone Employment Consultation Center. (2020). Retrieved 15 March 2020, from https://kecc.jp/en/.

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