JETRO Invest Japan Report 2021
Chapter3. JETRO's Efforts to Promote Investment in Japan
Section2. JETRO's Support for FDI in Japan

Comprehensive support for market entry and business expansion in Japan

JETRO, as Japan’s only public organization promoting foreign direct investment to Japan, provides a full range of services, from the dissemination of information on Japan's business environment to the discovery of companies interested in investing in Japan, support for establishing bases, and support for expanding business in the country (Chart 3-8). In addition, in order to encourage foreign companies to expand their business not only in urban areas but also throughout Japan, JETRO also provides support to local governments to attract foreign companies to their communities, and urge the Japanese government to further improve its business environment.

Chart 3-8: JETRO's Efforts to Promote Investment in Japan
Conceptual diagram explaining JETRO's Efforts to Promote Investment in Japan For the Government/Provision of information: Collection of voices on regulatory reforms to improve Japan's business environment and policy proposals to the government and providing information to foreign affiliates that have already established operations: (1) Compilation of requests for improvement of the business environment in Japan from companies interested in investing in Japan and foreign companies operating in Japan, and provision of proposals and information to government officials, etc., and (2) Dissemination of information on the results of improvements in the investment environment in Japan. For local governments in Japan: Support for strategy formulation to attract foreign companies/Support to promote inward FDI: (1) Advice on strategy formulation to attract foreign companies, (2) Top sales support (provision of venues, etc.), and (3) Seminars for overseas companies. Support to approach foreign companies: (1) Inviting foreign companies that are interested in Japan. For foreign-affiliated companies: Information dissemination on Japanese business environment: (1) [Invest in Japan] website, (2) Provision of variety of materials/brochures, and (3) Seminars for overseas companies. Discovery of companies interested in investment in Japan/forming collaborative partnership, and Proposals for research of Japanese market and analysis strategies: (1) Finding foreign companies at business events and exhibitions or through networking, (2) Providing information on markets and regulations, (3) Proposals on market entry, and (4) Business matching with potential partners. Support for startups through the Invest Japan Business Support Center (IBSC): (1) Provision of temporary offices (Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kobe, and Fukuoka), (2) Advice from specialists on business setups, legal, labor, and tax related matters, and (3) Support to find human resources and office spaces. Expansion of business with Japanese companies (domestic and overseas): (1) Business matching with Japanese companies, (2) Support to cooperate with local governments, (3) Support for secondary investment and expanding business, and (4) Support for forming collaborative and cooperative projects through J-Bridge.

1) Promotion of Open Innovation between Japanese Companies and Overseas Startup Companies

JETRO launched the business platform “Japan Innovation Bridge (J-Bridge)” in February 2021 with the aim of promoting open innovation through cooperation and collaboration between Japanese companies and overseas startup companies. The goal is to encourage collaboration between companies in Japan and abroad in the fields of digital and green, and to attract the vitality of foreign companies, thereby increasing foreign investment in Japan.

Specifically, in addition to dissemination of information through on-line seminars and pitch events, the J-Bridge provides J-Bridge members, which are Japanese companies, with services such as introduction of promising overseas companies, arrangement of interviews, consultations by experts, and integrated support consisting of mentoring and matching. As of November 2021, about 500 companies and 600 people are registered as J-Bridge members. In addition, venture capital firms, banks, and other entities participate in J-Bridge as partners, with the aim of providing support to Japanese companies through concerted efforts of related parties with a variety of expertise, such as finance and inter-company negotiations.

2) Dissemination of information by JETRO

JETRO provides information to foreign and foreign-affiliated companies in the company through websites and online events. JETRO's website for foreign investment in Japan, which was fully revised in 2021, disseminates a variety of information in seven languages including Japanese (Chart 3-9). As an overview of Japan's investment environment, "Promising Industries for Foreign Investment in Japan" that focuses on particularly promising markets in Japan, and "Why Japan?" that conveys the attractiveness of the Japanese market and society, gives you a grasp of the characteristics of the market, and "How to Set up Business in Japan" provides a wide range of information required for incorporation, including company registration, visas, tax systems, and labor management. The website also post videos explaining how to enter Japan, how to establish a base, and how to obtain a work visa. In addition, "Navigation system for investing in Japan’s local regions" is an information portal where visitors can acquire various information from basic economic and social data to that on industries, infrastructure, and incentives of prefectures and major cities. "Businesses Expanding" and "Success Stories" present case studies of companies that have entered the Japanese market, attracting many visitors including foreign companies that are interested in Japan.

Chart 3-9: JETRO Japan Investment Website
Images from JETRO Investing in Japan Website. Japan's GDP: US$5,081.8 billion, Stock of Inward FDI: 33.9 trillion yen, and number of patent applications (2019): 307,969

In addition to disseminating information on its website, JETRO holds a variety of online events during the COVID-19 crisis and promotes Japan's attractiveness overseas. In conjunction with the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, JETRO held NET ZERO Leaders Summit (Japan Business Conference 2021), a larger online event, from July 28 to September 10, 2021 (Chart 3-10). At the event, experts from around the world took the stage and to discuss carbon neutrality, which is attracting attention of countries and regions around the world, including Japan. Furthermore, visitors were able to visit, as online avatars, the booths of JETRO, Japanese companies and local governments prepared in a virtual space, and communicated with exhibitors in real time using the chat function, etc. The event took advantage of online, despite the difficulty of holding a physical event due to COVID-19.

Charts 3-10: Lobbies at 3D Virtual Places
Image of Lobby in 3D Virtual Venue. NET ZERO Leaders Summit (Japan Business Conference 2021)

3) Hands-on support for foreign companies

JETRO's Personal Advisor (PA) System for Foreign Companies is a core service of JETRO's support for foreign companies as to FDI in Japan. Under the PA system, JETRO's staff in charge of attracting foreign companies will work closely with foreign companies and provide detailed support by addressing the regulations and administrative procedures necessary for establishing corporations and conducting business activities in Japan, together with foreign companies. It also provides flexible support tailored to each company's needs, including consulting on tax, labor, and legal matters, provision of market and regulatory information, and participation in business events.

JETRO provides temporary offices (free of charge up to 50 business days) available to foreign companies to prepare for their establishment in Japan at its Invest Japan Business Support Center (IBSC), which operate at six JETRO offices (Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, and Fukuoka) and other locations. Various supports by staff and experts are provided to tenant companies at IBSC of JETRO domestic offices. IBSC within JETRO Tokyo Headquarters is adjacent to Tokyo One Stop Business Establishment Center (TOSBEC), which provides a single point of contact for all necessary procedures for establishing a corporation in Tokyo (operated by: Japanese government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government). In addition, JETRO is promoting "Digital IBSC" to accept consultations from anywhere in the world, and supports foreign and foreign-affiliated companies' expansion into Japan and business expansion online. JETRO also provide various information and consulting online.

In addition to the above-mentioned conventional services, JETRO will collaborate with domestic universities to hold events that connect foreign-affiliated companies with domestic students in order to support the business expansion of foreign-affiliated companies in Japan. The Career Discovery, scheduled to be held in November 2021, will be an event where 600 students, including foreign students attending 14 universities nationwide, students who have studied abroad, and students interested in foreign-affiliated companies will be able to interact online with about 30 foreign-affiliated companies supported by JETRO. Further, from October 2021 to the end of January 2022, special courses will be held at five universities in Japan with lecturers from JETRO and foreign-affiliated companies to give lectures to the students of the listed universities on the activities of foreign-affiliated companies in Japan and their careers at the companies. Securing appropriate human resources has long been a major issue for foreign companies expanding their business in Japan, and JETRO's new service is expected to resolve this issue.

4) Support for attracting investment in Japan to local communities

In addition to supporting foreign and foreign-affiliated companies, JETRO also provides various types of support to local governments that invite these companies, from capacity building to matching with foreign companies, based on the knowledge and resources that JETRO has accumulated over the years (Chart 3-11).

Chart 3-11: Major Assistances in Support Programs
Subject Support items Outline of support
1. Provision of know-how Basic training Basic training sessions for staff to attract foreign companies
Advanced training Advanced training sessions to improve the skills in invitation activities
Dispatch of experts and consultants Experts and consultants visit the relevant regions to hold training and study meetings on various topics, such as the formulation of strategies to attract foreign companies.
2. PR and promotion support Online Seminars for overseas Field-specific online seminars for JETRO overseas offices and overseas companies
Support for strengthening regional branding With the aim of further improving the brand power of local governments overseas, support will be provided to review the attraction strategies and PR materials from an overseas perspective through overseas consultants.
3. Matching and inviting foreign companies Regional Business Conference (RBC) Inviting foreign companies and local governments that want to participate in the programs planned by JETRO
Targeted recruiting Promoting business opportunities in the region to foreign companies with a high probability of being attracted to the region, and conduct matching with local companies..
4. Other (for JETRO project companies) Temporary office for local market Providing free temporary office space to JETRO project companies wishing to establish a business base in municipalities covered by the support project. (50 business days in principle)

As mentioned above, the "Navigation system for investing in Japan’s local regions" on JETRO’s website delivers information on each local government to foreign companies in a searchable format. JETRO staff and experts provide participating municipalities with invitation know-how through the "Support Program for Foreign Direct Investment in Japan for Local Communities (hereafter, the Support Program), which was launched in FY2018. In terms of overseas PR support, which is extremely important in attracting foreign companies, seminars will be held where participating municipalities can directly communicate their attractiveness to foreign companies online, utilizing JETRO’s overseas network. Furthermore, JETRO launched a new project to strengthen regional branding for selected municipalities in order to enhance their ability to communicate the attractiveness of the region. In July 2021, Fukuoka City was selected as the first target region. The support is being expanded to maximize publicity of the attractiveness of the target region and to communicate it to foreign companies.

JETRO will also provide online matching with foreign companies to some of the municipalities participating in the support program. The matching support will be given focusing on three areas that are attracting a lot of attention from foreign companies and in which participating municipalities can demonstrate their strengths: HealthTech, which is expected to see further innovation as a result of COVID-19; FactoryTech, which will make a significant contribution to industrial sophistication; and TravelTech, which is expected to see increased demand after the COVID-19 pandemic. In cases where specific collaborations are expected, it plan to invite foreign companies and provide them with opportunities for inspection in the future.

5) Efforts toward improvement of the business environment

In order to improve the business environment in Japan, JETRO listens to requests for improvements in regulations and other matters from foreign and foreign-affiliated companies, and work with the government and related ministries and agencies. JETRO also serves as a bridge between the Japanese government and foreign companies. It acts as a contact point for foreign/foreign-affiliated companies under the "Invest Japan Hotline," which accepts requests from companies and holds interviews with relevant ministries and agencies, and the "Regulatory Sandbox System" launched by the Japanese government in 2018. Furthermore, in the "Investment Advisor Assignment System" in which deputy Minister consults with foreign companies making important investments in Japan, JETRO supports the business development of foreign-affiliated companies in Japan through arranging interviews with state ministers of concerned ministries. In June 2020, in light of the COVID-19 infection, the “Helpline for Foreign Companies” was established to provide foreign companies and foreign-affiliated companies in Japan with consultation services related to business in Japan.

In addition, JETRO is a member of the Council for the Promotion of Foreign Direct Investment in Japan, which is organized by relevant ministries and agencies to realize institutional reforms, and also served as the deputy chairman of the Working Group on Medium-to Long-Term Strategies for the Promotion of Foreign Direct Investment in Japan, which was met from October 2020 to May 2021. In this way, JETRO is working to improve the business environment in Japan in cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies.

Based on strategy to promote direct investment in Japan, JETRO, together with the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, will further strengthen its efforts to improve the business environment in Japan. As part of the efforts to strengthen our activities, we conducted the “Survey on Foreign-affiliated Companies in Japan” during the period of September to October 2021, to collect information on the business outlines of foreign affiliates nationwide and their opinions on the business environment in Japan. The questionnaire will be compiled and published on JETRO's website and other media in the spring of 2022 or later.

[Author] Invest Japan Department
Chapter1. Yuta Nagasaki, Kaoru Yoshida, Fumiko Nakayama
Chapter2. Kaoru Yoshida, Fumiko Nakayama
Chapter3. Yuta Nagasaki, Kaoru Yoshida