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Setting up business in Japan
Different types of company in Japan
Sole proprietor (kojin jigyo) in Japan
Different types of operation for a foreign company
- Representative office
- Branch office (shiten)
- Subsidiary (company established under the Japanese Law)
Registering a branch office in Japan
Procedures and costs: how to set up a company in Japan
Required documents and the details to decide in the Articles of Incorporation
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Setting up an office / company in Japan

Business Incorporation in Japan

If you would like to set up a company or business in Japan, you will need to choose between the most suitable structure for your situation, there are two choices in Japan, a Kabushiki Kaisha (KK) or a Godo Kaisha (GK).

Whichever structure for your business you choose, it is required by the government to have:

  • An office address where the company can be registered. Depending on your visa types, or business license, it might also be required to have a dedicated physical office space.
  • A Japanese bank account, in Japan where the capital funds can be deposited

If you don’t have a bank account in Japan, you will either need to find a business partner who has a bank account in Japan and is willing to receive the capital in his/her personal bank account in Japan, or use our Market Entry Facilitation Service.

Since the law changed in April 2016, it is no longer required to nominate a Representative Director who is resident in Japan. It therefore became technically possible to register a company without having anyone who lives in Japan (provided you can successfully secure a Japanese bank account for the initial capital deposit).

However, it is still recommended to nominate a resident Representative Director at least initially, as many Japanese banks refuse to open a corporate bank account when the Representative Director is not a resident of Japan (because of the law against terrorism funding and money laundering), unless you are going to apply for the Investor / Business Manager visa to become resident afterwards.

If you would like to start small as a sole proprietor, click here

Kabushiki Kaisha (KK) Godo Kaisha (GK)
Structure Limited liability company by share Used by small and medium sized companies and functions more like a partnership
Credibility Widely known, the most credible form of company in Japan Newly introduced in 2006 to replace Yugen Kaisha. Still not very well known
Setting up costs Around 400,000 yen* Around 250,000 yen*
Governance Investors / owners (shareholders) and managers of the company (Directors) are separated (a shareholder can become a director at the same time) Owned and managed by partners. Necessary to invest (regardless of the amount) in order to manage the company.
Minimum number of people required At least one shareholder and one Representative Director (can be the same person) At least one partner
Publication of financial statements Necessary Not necessary
Directors term of office 1 to 10 years with possibility of re-election (which needs to be registered) No fixed term
Profit sharing Tied to the investment rate (number of shares held) Possible to decide freely without being bound to the investment rates
Advantages Easily recognized or trusted when working with big Japanese companies. Possible to appoint directors who don't hold shares. Useful when you have partners who can contribute by providing their knowledge, skills or network without making large financial contribution.
Disadvantages More expensive when setting up Less credible

*including our fees

It is possible to change from GK to KK, or from KK to GK, after the company is registered. The costs of the transformation is about the same as the difference in the setting up costs between KK and GK (around 100 000 yen).

Which should I choose, KK or GK?
  • If you have sufficient funds for and will work regularly with Japanese companies: KK
  • If you budget is limited and the main clients/customers will most likely be individuals or foreign companies: GK
  • If you intend to have other investors or to transfer/sell shares in the future: KK
  • If you wish to divide the profit (dividends) with different percentage than the actual investment rate (for having partner(s) who will provide workforce, skills or know-how rather than contributing financially): GK
  • If you are the sole investor/manager of the company and wish to set up a company in the easiest and fastest way: GK

Now what are the different steps for setting up a company in Japan ?

Let's see next : Procedures and costs: how to establish a company in Japan

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