specializing in small-scale lease offices, SOHO apartments that can be used as offices and rental office space 130 m2 or less in the Tokyo metropolitan area

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Entering the Japanese market

Types of entry

A company launching a business in Japan may do so with three types of locations:

1. Establish a Japanese subsidiary (affiliated company)

Register a Japanese subsidiary as an affiliate. The foreign head office bears responsibility for debts and credits as an investor because the company is an affiliate. Since the company is established as a normal corporate entity, bank accounts can be opened and real estate leased.

2. Establishing a Japanese branch

This is the easiest method of establishing a location.
Decide on a representative for the branch office who can manage the business immediately after it is registered. Legally, the branch has no fixed corporate entity, and is handled as part of the overseas main office. Therefore, debs and credits ultimately return directly to the foreign company. Furthermore, the branch office name can be used to open bank accounts and lease real estate.

3. Establishing a liaison office

A liaison office is a location where preparations and supplemental activities are carried out for the purpose of managing a foreign business entity in Japan. While no sales can be executed, market research, information gathering, materials purchases, and advertisement activities are acceptable.
The liaison office is not required to be registered. Therefore, it cannot be used to open a bank account or lease real estate. An office can only be rented at a liaison office location if the individual name of the representative of the main office or liaison office is used to conclude the contract.

Business registration procedure

To establish a Japanese subsidiary or branch requires a business be registered. The procedure is complicated, so most such registrations are outsourced to a professional (administrative scrivener or judicial scrivener).

Consult with Ardent to be put in touch with professionals adept at establishing foreign corporations.

Obtaining visas and resident status

As a general rule, a person must obtain a visa from the Embassy of Japan or at a consulate general abroad in order to receive an airline ticket to enter Japan.
Upon entering Japan, the person undergoes inspection by an immigration officer, who will issue a stamp as proof of permission to enter the country, and determine residence status and period of stay.

What is a visa?

A stamp received in a passport at diplomatic missions abroad that is required to enter Japan.

What is a residence status?

The period of stay and range of activity of a foreign person entering Japan is limited by his or her residence status.
An Investor/Business Manager visa is the most commonly obtained visa used for the purpose of entry of a business to Japan.

(What is an Investor/Business Manager visa?)

"A visa for a foreigner who will perform substantive duties related to the operation or management of a business."

Obtaining visas and resident status

・"Business Manager" "Investor"

1. A business location must be maintained in Japan for the purpose of operating the business in question
2. An enterprise of a scale in which two or more regular staff who reside in Japan are employed.
   Alternatively, an enterprise with annual investments amounting to 5 million yen or more will be treated as having
   satisfied the conditions listed in Item 2.


1. Person who has at least 3 years of business operation and management experience.
2. If the employed is a Japanese citizen, he or she must receive equivalent or higher compensation.

Types of working statuses

Points-based preferential immigration treatment for highly skilled foreign professionals


Steps to obtain a visa or residence status

Step1 Apply for issuance of a Certificate of Eligibility

The applicant or a proxy applies to the Immigration Bureau of Japan for a Certificate of Eligibility. The "applicant" refers to the person currently staying in Japan on a short-term residence status.
*Since a diplomatic mission abroad is unaware of the current situation in Japan, the application review takes time; therefore, an inspection is performed at an immigration office located in Japan first.

Step2Visa application

The applicant submits the Certificate of Eligibility obtained in Japan at a Japanese diplomatic mission abroad to obtain a visa.

Step3Entry to Japan

The applicant receives a Seal of Verification for Landing in his or her passport at Narita Airport, Haneda Airport or other main airports and is issued a residency card.

At other airports of entry, the applicant receives a stamp and receives a residency card at a later date from the municipal office at a later date.

General procedure to enter Japan by obtaining an Investor/Business Manager visa

1. Entry for a short-term stay (with no proxy in Japan)

2. Office lease and hiring employees

3. Incorporation of a business

4. Application for Issuance of an Investor/Business Manager Visa

5. Single return to own country in the case of short-term stay

*Important notes on securing an office

To reduce costs incurred in securing an office following entry to Japan, some clients seek to secure an office by using an apartment that combines living space and office space (so that the place of work and the residence are the same location).
However, to obtain an Investor/Business Manager visa, the term "contract for residence" is not acceptable in an office contract.
An "office contract" is required even if the location is an apartment.
The contract must be made in the name of the applicable corporation, and the living space and office space must be clearly delineated, and the property must be zoned to allow posting of a nameplate.

If a lease contract was concluded in the name of a proxy or an individual, it is required that the name be changed after the corporate entity is established.

Ardent boasts an impressive record in support of foreign affiliates entering the Japanese market.
Consult us for properties and contracts that qualify you to obtain an Investor/Business Manager visa.