Leaders March 2016

Japan market

Reasons for its appeal

According to the Invest Japan Report 2015 published by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the greatest appeal for doing business in Japan is the market itself, despite the decline in the population. Some 72% of respondents to a JETRO survey said the size of the market is an attraction.

Other draws are the country’s well-developed infrastructure, such as transport, logistics, information and communications technology; firms and universities with outstanding technologies and products; high quality research and development capabilities; and the appeal of living conditions, including safety and the quality of the environment.

In parallel, the number of firms listing high business costs as an obstacle to doing business in Japan is declining. This is helped, in part, by the weakness of the yen, resulting in rents for office space and housing in Tokyo being far more competitive than in the past, especially compared with other Asian business hubs, such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Consumer spending boost
Although Japan’s shrinking population undoubtedly limits opportunities for growth in sectors focused on the sale of consumer products, the market’s size is a comfort, providing a great source of revenue for businesses, particularly those with differentiated products and services that enable them to increase market share.

As global trade slows, and manufacturing industries struggle with over-capacity, consumer spending offers a brighter spot in an otherwise uncertain economic environment.

Against that backdrop, it is hoped that Japan’s consumers will have the capacity, bolstered by the consumption of tourists and other visitors to Japan, to play a crucial role in the near-term health of the country’s economy.

BCCJ’s role
While the outlook for growth may be uncertain, I am pleased to say that the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) remains committed to serving its members, no matter what challenges the Japan market may provide.

We will continue striving to bring you the people who matter to you in your business. In that respect, I hope you will join us on 29 March at a BCCJ-organised event with Yoichi Masuzoe, governor of Tokyo, at which he will set out his ambitions and plans for the capital to become the most business-friendly city in the world.

The BCCJ is delighted to be hosting this event with other European chambers of commerce in Japan, with the kind support of the European Business Council in Japan and Philips Japan.

Our events programme will continue in April with a renewed assessment of Abenomics, after which the focus of the BCCJ Secretariat will be on preparations for the chamber’s Annual General Meeting on 27 April at the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo. This will be an opportunity to reflect on chamber performance over the past year, and to announce a new BCCJ Executive Committee. I sincerely hope to welcome you there.