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Information on Japan for EU Companies

This website provides practical information for European Union businesses in need of clear guidelines to trade with or invest in Japan or cooperate with Japanese partners. The information used in this website was obtained by screening over 1,600 webpages to provide European Union companies with a digest of useful Japan-related information from a wide variety of online sources. When seeking to do business abroad, it is essential to first get to know the country that you are targeting. Awareness about Japan’s politics, economics and social environment is a considerable asset. To help you improve your knowledge about Japan, and in accordance with the project of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs to develop a global platform providing European Union businesses with relevant information about business with third countries, the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation has created this online information portal for European companies seeking to break into the Japanese market. It aims to bring together and make available all online in­formation which could be beneficial to EU companies wishing to develop business in or with Japan.

The EU Business in Japan (EUBIJ) project was officially launched in January 2014. The EU-Japan Centre has screened more than 1,600 links to Japan-related information and is pleased to make its findings available to you online. This website comprises several chapters covering every aspect of doing business in or with Japan. Consequently, the views expressed in these sources do not necessarily reflect the views of the Centre nor of any of its associate organisations.

Why Japan?

There are numerous reasons for investing in Japan: for starters, Japan is a large country which offers diverse business opportunities for those wishing to embark upon a potentially lucrative project. Forty-seven prefectures spanning from the metropolitan area of Tokyo to the snow-covered tops of Hokkaido each present a wide range of opportunities to explore. Cultural and commercial events fill the calendar, and a mix of traditional customs and the latest trends characterise the day to day life of the Japanese. The proportion of elderly people and single women is skyrocketing revealing new growing sectors of activity. Due to its unique and highly dynamic character, the Japanese market is an opportunity worth seizing with both hands!

Procedures

There are a wide range of possible strategies for entering the Japanese market. To choose the most suitable one for your business you have to be aware of the logistical difficulties to investing in Japan. In addition to understanding the unique behaviour of Japanese consumers and businessmen (see “Culture”) you must be prepared for a wide range of potential legal and regulatory issues. Japan is a relatively closed market, and you need to be well informed to overcome its various potential obstacles.

This chapter will provide you with information and advice on operational and financial issues to prepare you for when investment and business opportunities begin to appear. Furthermore, if you are more of a researcher, we can also provide you with data on various R&D centres and clusters. This chapter looks at cross-cutting operational issues which companies may face when starting or developing their activities in Japan or with Japanese businesses.

Sectors

Despite an overall economic slowdown beginning in the 1990s, Japanese industries remain amongst the most highly advanced and innovative worldwide. In many manufacturing industries – particularly in the electronics and automotive sectors – the term “Japanese” is synonymous with high quality and technologically advanced products, and in a wide variety of sectors, Japanese companies are world leaders in both production and technological advancements in their respective fields.

The objective of this chapter is to provide you with a portal to all publicly available online information relating to the current status of and recent developments within Japanese industries and business sectors.

Cross-Cultural Issues

For hundreds of years, Japan was almost completely cut off from the outside world, and the effects of this policy of isolationism can still be felt today. Despite being an economic and cultural superpower, Japan’s unique geographical and historical circumstances have resulted in the emergence of a distinctive society and culture which may seem intimidating for European entrepreneurs seeking to invest in Japan. Indeed, our surveys of EU businesses with offices and subsidiaries in Japan have concluded that the most common difficulties for European businesses seeking to enter the Japanese market are usually related to cultural matters and to understanding the Japanese approach to business. Therefore, acquiring this culture-related knowledge is of fundamental importance.

The aim of this chapter is to provide you with information on the various cultural barriers to entering the Japanese market.

Support

To benefit from wider support, a database of specially selected experts who have kindly agreed to share their knowl­edge and to cooperate on this project by providing their valuable insight through reports and e-learning sessions.

Library

In addition to the information pages available on this site and side activities, you can have access to an extensive library of additional material, such as:

  • Publications: market reports, fact sheets, newsletters, etc;
  • Videos: audio and video content mainly covering cross-cultural issues;
  • Q&A: any questions received are shared on this page so that you can benefit from the responses;
  • Useful Links: all the links you need on a single page
  • Newsletter: Monthly newsletter informing subscribers about the latest updates done in the website, forthcoming events, recent publications released.

News

Should you wish to be kept informed of any updates made on this website, just subscribe here.

Events

To give participants the opportunity to improve their knowledge of Japan from the comfort of their desks, webinars "About Japan" are organised. These webinars covers a wide range of important topics such as sector-related information and cross-cutting or cross-cultural issues.

A full list of the forthcoming webinars is available here.