How to register a company in Japan

business in japan

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric:

Registering a company in Japan involves several steps and can be a complex process, especially if you’re not familiar with Japanese business regulations and language. Doing business in Japan can be a rewarding endeavor, as Japan is one of the world’s largest economies and offers many opportunities. However, it’s essential to understand the business environment, culture, and legal requirements to be successful.  Japanese business culture places a strong emphasis on politeness, respect, and formalities. Building and maintaining strong relationships (known as “kizuna”) are crucial in Japanese business.

Here’s a general overview of the steps you’ll need to take:

  1. Decide on the Type of Business Entity: Choose the type of company you want to establish, such as a Kabushiki Kaisha (KK) or a Godo Kaisha (GK) for a corporation, or a sole proprietorship or partnership for a smaller business.
  2. Choose a Company Name: Your company name must be unique, and you should conduct a name search to ensure it’s available. The name must also adhere to certain naming conventions.
  3. Appoint a Representative Director: You’ll need to appoint a representative director for your company who will be responsible for its management.
  4. Prepare Articles of Incorporation: Draft the Articles of Incorporation (Teikan) for your company, which include important details about your business, such as the purpose, capital, and management structure.
  5. Register the Company: Submit the necessary documents to the Legal Affairs Bureau (Homukyoku) in the area where your business will be located. This typically involves filing the Articles of Incorporation, company seal certificate (Inkan), and other required forms.
  6. Obtain a Company Seal (Inkan): You’ll need a registered company seal (Inkan) for various business transactions. The seal must be registered at the local ward office.
  7. Open a Bank Account: Open a bank account in your company’s name and deposit the required minimum capital amount, which is typically around 1 JPY.
  8. Obtain a Business License: Depending on your business type, you may need specific licenses and permits, so make sure to check the requirements at the national and local levels.
  9. Register for Taxes and Social Insurance: Register your company for tax purposes, including income tax, consumption tax, and other applicable taxes. You’ll also need to enroll in the social insurance system for your employees.
  10. Register with the Labor Standards Inspection Office: If you plan to hire employees, you need to register with the local Labor Standards Inspection Office and comply with labor laws.
  11. Create a Corporate Seal (Kaisha Inkan): In addition to your company’s registered seal, you may need a corporate seal (Kaisha Inkan) for specific transactions, so be sure to obtain one if necessary.
  12. File an Initial Report: After registering your company, you’ll need to file an Initial Report with the Legal Affairs Bureau to provide information about your business structure and management.
  13. Comply with Ongoing Reporting and Compliance: Your company will have ongoing reporting and compliance requirements, such as annual financial statements and tax filings, which must be submitted on time.

Please note that the process may vary depending on your specific circumstances and the location of your business. It’s highly recommended to consult with legal and accounting professionals who are knowledgeable about Japanese business regulations and can guide you through the process. Additionally, you may need to provide documentation in Japanese or have a Japanese speaker assist you throughout the registration process.