Starting a business in Japan while overseas.

The way foreigners can have an address in Japan to start a business is very simple. They can make a company with an address and bank account. They can then apply to change their residence status after making company and acquiring a license where required.

So, what kind of options do you have if you don’t have an address in Japan. You basically have two options. One of them is to make a company first and the other is applying for a visa before making the company.

The major condition of 5,000,000 yen as minimum capital is required in all cases.
Please refer to the article “Issues in setting up businesses in Japan” if you want to know other conditions. It will be helpful for you, because you need to clear these conditions and the guidelines for getting a visa.

1.Making the company first.

The issue in this case is that the founders do not have an address and bank account in Japan. Founders need to deposit the capital in a personal account before registration. In addition, banks request a personal address of a representative when a company wants to open a bank account. Visas or Japanese passport are required for getting an address in Japan. So, how do we solve these problems? 

(1) Making a personal account at the branch of a Japanese bank abroad.

You can make the personal bank account at the branch of a Japanese bank in your country. The bank account in which you deposit the capital must be “a bank prescribed in Article 2 (1) of the Banking Act in Japan”. The foreign branch of a Japanese bank satisfies this condition. But as far as I confirm to some banks, there are some barriers. Firstly, almost all banks do not provide the service to open personal accounts. In addition, for withdrawing deposited money from accounts at branches abroad, account holders must send their money to accounts at branches in Japan. So, this option is quite useless in most cases.

(2) Using Agent’s account.

Bank accounts of agents as lawyers are approved as the account for a capital deposit by the revised guidelines of March 2017.  So, you can make the company without having an address in japan. On the other hand, banks require the representative’s address in Japan for opening a business account. It means you need to apply for a visa in order to obtain an address before starting your business. This is a useful way of doing things if you come from a visa-waiver country.

(3) Making a company with your partner in Japan.

You make a company with your partner if they already have an address and a bank account in Japan. Your partner become the first representative. He will resign from the board of members when you get a visa. This way is the most ordinary and classical way, which is still effective when you make a company before getting a visa, regardless of the other options available due to legal amendment. 

2. Applying for a visa first

It has been possible to apply for a visa before making a company since the amendment in 2015. When you make a company first, there is a possibility you may fail to get the visa regardless of making the company. Conversely, it has the advantage that you can start your business with legal status from the first. Further, if you delegate a visa procedure and the establishment of a company to lawyers, you don’t need to be in Japan before getting a visa. There are two ways, namely applying for a four month’ visa directly to the immigration bureau or using the system provided by Tokyo city. You need to prepare the specific business plan, personal history and documents which show you can prepare a minimum capital of 5 million yen. 

(1) Applying for a four months visa.

With this way, you apply to the immigration bureau directly. You need to make the articles of incorporation before applying. It is said, however, that it takes a lot of time for screening. As far as I know, this can be up to ten months. The immigration bureau seems to be very careful in this case.

(2) Using the system provided Tokyo city.

The government provides this system not only in Tokyo. Fukuoka and Niigata are also providing the same system. You apply to each government with the evidence described above. It takes about one month for the government to screen if they can issue the recommendation. Then you apply to the immigration bureau with a recommendation letter. The screening time in the immigration bureau is shorter than using the other procedures in which you have the recommendation of the City. You can also check the system from the past article, “A visa by a Business Plan in Tokyo”.

The explanation here is very simple. There are more issues involved in actual cases. Please leave sufficient time when inquiring about this. Feel free to call “080-6781-5421” or e-mail me at