Business

Tokyo to open 'one-stop' office to help foreigners launch businesses

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Aiming to make it easier for foreigners to invest in Japan, the central government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will launch a “one-stop” office in April that will guide them through the entire process of starting a company here.

Currently, establishing a company requires going to several agencies, including the Legal Affairs Bureau and tax and pension offices.

“The point is to speed up the process for starting companies. By making the office a one-stop window, it will be much faster,” a metropolitan government official said.

It takes an average of 11 days to set up a business in Tokyo, compared with only three days in Hong Kong or Singapore, which are also keen to attract foreign startups, according to the World Bank.

Even with the new office’s help, however, foreigners wishing to run businesses will still need to obtain a business manager visa, a process that generally takes more than a month.

The office will be in the Minato Ward, Tokyo, headquarters of the Japan External Trade Organization, a trade promotion body affiliated with the industry ministry.

The central government will dispatch officials from different agencies to the office to accept applications for company registration, as well as to work on pension, tax and visa-related paperwork.

English interpreters will be available to help would-be entrepreneurs fill out documents in Japanese.

The metropolitan government official said the office will help parties wishing to set up their companies in Tokyo, not other parts of the country.

While the office will mainly target foreigners, the official said Japanese wishing to establish startups can also use it.

The metropolitan government also plans to provide business-matching services for foreign business owners and offer them information on everyday needs, such as information on hospitals and schools.