7 English-Speaking Communities and Services to Support Your Startup in Japan
Starting a business in Japan is a challenge, but it’s not one you have to undertake alone.
Here are 7 English-speaking communities and services in Japan that can provide mentorship, opportunities, and practical boots-on-the-ground implementation and execution to get your startup up and running.
1. Future Empowered Women
Founded in 1981, Future Empowered Women (FEW) provides networking, mentorship, and professional opportunities through its core activities, which include regular monthly networking meetings, a bimonthly Women’s Start-up Club, biennial flagship Career Strategies Seminar, and a diverse lineup of other regular events.
All events are in English, and membership is open to women of all nationalities. The member list fluctuates between 130 to 160 at any given time, and members are from a wide range of industries, holding a variety of roles from C-suite executives to those just starting in a career.
FEW’s membership benefits are ideal for women in Tokyo looking for practical professional development opportunities and the chance to meet established guest speakers, fellow members, and other entrepreneur women in Tokyo.
2. Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center
Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center (TOSBEC) is jointly administered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the central government, providing free English support to foreign companies looking to launch or expand their businesses in Tokyo.
Entrepreneurs can complete a wide range of business-related procedures (such as filing for company incorporation) in one location—along with free English language support. In response to Covid-19, TOSBEC recommends online consultations and kindly suggests reservations to visit their offices.
Consultation services regarding company registration, tax, immigration, employment and labor insurance are also available via phone or email. Additionally, they host regular online events that explain regulations and other fundamentals for startups and entrepreneurs.
3. TokyoMate’s Suite of Services
A comprehensive Office-as-a-Service solution, TokyoMate is a premium bilingual subscription service for startups and businesses looking to move knowledgeably through Japan’s business landscape.
With TokyoMate Assistant, native Japanese bilingual business assistants translate emails, call on your behalf, conduct market research, and provide on-the-ground implementation support for overseas investors and Japan-based entrepreneurs. While TokyoMate does not offer financial, legal, or business consulting, they can point you in the right direction, provide recommendations for the appropriate services, and help you find top-rated bilingual services tailored for startups and entrepreneurs in Japan.
Additionally, with TokyoMate Mail, you can switch to a virtual office while remaining compliant with Japan’s business regulations that require an office address on your company’s tokibo tohon (registry certificate). Other notable advantages include reduced paper weight; easy forwarding of mail to your lawyer, accountant, etc.; and summarized translations of Japanese mail at your request.
All services come with a no-risk 30-day moneyback guarantee with each of TokyoMate’s pricing plans.
4. The American Chamber of Commerce
The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) has more than 25 nationalities represented in their international business community and more than 3,000 senior executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals.
Membership fees and access is tiered. Individual membership is ¥75,000 yearly, and company membership yearly fees for a commercial membership tier is ¥250,000. Other membership plans are available.
Benefits include access to the ACCJ network, participation in ACCJ activities, advocacy initiatives, peer-to-peer networking, and up to 500 events per year, including roundtable discussions, Q&A sessions, webinars, and in-person events. A peek at their event lineup is here.
Note: For other countries’ Chambers of Commerce in Japan, refer to this directory created by Jason Ball.
5. Business in Japan
Business in Japan (BIJ) is the largest networking group (68,000+) for English-speaking professionals looking to do business in or with Japan. Owned and led by Jason Ball, Director of Pactera Japan, the group is on Linkedin here.
Weekly on Monday at 12 PM (JPT), BIJ hosts Clubhouse events featuring business owners in Japan, and on Monday evening at 9:30 PM (JPT), the event theme is “uncommon knowledge about starting up in Japan,” where Jason Ball and co-hosts discuss startups and investing in Japan through interviews with established founders and investors.
This is an active group where professionals in Japan—and abroad—can reach out in English, connect, ask questions, get feedback, and share news on business-in-Japan themes.
6. Shibuya Startup Support
Shibuya Startup Support (SSS) is a service by Shibuya City Office that assists foreign entrepreneurs with the procedures necessary for establishing a company or starting a business in Shibuya, Tokyo.
Shibuya City Office grants a residence status commonly known as the “startup visa” that lasts for up to one year, allowing foreign nationals sufficient time in Japan to proceed with the necessary paperwork for setting up a business. They offer a free 30-minute consultation for those considering Shibuya’s Welcome Service.
Other benefits include helping connect you to local business opportunities and guidance on the administrative procedures required to set up a legal entity in Tokyo.
7. Japan External Trade Organization
Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) has established support centers worldwide and throughout Japan to aid foreign and foreign-affiliated companies with entering the Japanese market.
At JETRO’s Invest Japan Business Support Centers in Tokyo, employees provide multi-lingual support, easing language barriers and assisting with explanations of Japan’s incorporation process, etc. (Click here and scroll down to view a list of their offices in Tokyo.)
Their website also provides detailed English-language guidance on import and export laws, regulations on establishing a business in Japan, information on trade fairs and exhibitions that JETRO partners with, and more.
Other great resources for startup events include:
How to find Start up (and other) Events in Japan by Jason Ball
Osaka / Kyoto / Kobe Entrepreneur Guide by Tugi Günes.
About TokyoMate’s suite of services
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Get a virtual office address, a Tokyo-area phone number, your Japanese mail handled, and native Japanese bilingual business assistants, plus a no-risk 30-day moneyback guarantee with each of our pricing plans.