On 30 November, the Business Development Center TOKYO (BDCT) invited foreign businesspeople and their Japanese representatives to its Invest Tokyo Seminar 2015.
Hosted by Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) with cooperation from the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the event had guest speakers from central government, the US embassy in Tokyo and JETRO.
Addressing a packed house, Vice-governor of Tokyo Nobuhiro Maeda said the city is to become a place where foreigners and their families can live with ease. With international schools, hospitals that employ foreign staff, and street signs in English, Maeda said Tokyo will be reborn in time for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Echoing Maeda’s encouraging remarks was Yutaka Fujiwara, deputy director of the Office for Promotion of Regional Revitalization at the Cabinet Office. He pointed out the important functions of the country’s nine National Strategic Special Zones—one of which is Tokyo—that are designed to reduce regulations and promote economic growth.
Similar sentiments were shared by Toshitake Kurosawa, deputy director-general of the Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. During his presentation, Kurosawa touched on the Japan Revitalization Strategy, which was launched two years ago to boost economic recovery following years of stagnation.
He stressed the investment opportunities that are likely to arise from ongoing international trade negotiations, national corporate reforms and trade promotion schemes. These include the recently announced Invest Japan initiative, a conference led by ministers to discuss institutional and other barriers to investment.
While planning to reduce the corporate tax rate, Kurosawa said the government is increasing efforts to support investment into the regions and provide support for small and medium-sized enterprises.
The keynote speaker was Andrew Wylegala, director of commercial service at the US embassy in Tokyo. Wylegala’s speech touched on a number of issues such as US–Japan relations, the opportunities arising from the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Tokyo’s growing reputation as a city that can attract world-class talent and investment.
Other speakers included Tomotsugu Iwata, director of the Invest Japan Coordination Division at JETRO, and Noriko Adachi, director for National Strategic Special Zone Coordination at TMG, who spoke about Tokyo’s initiatives to support foreign firms and entrepreneurs.
Attendees heard from a foreign entrepreneur and a Japanese representative of an administrative scrivener office in Tokyo who have benefitted from BDCT’s services—a highlight of the seminar.
Jamie Gehrke said: “I came across the BDCT by searching online. Since registering the company, consultants at the centre have helped us with all of our questions regarding the set up of the business, as well as in understanding national insurance and pension premiums, and tax structures, including corporate tax”.
Gehrke, who hails from Scotland, is a founding partner of soon-to-be-launched e-commerce retailer Accio Tokyo.
Reflecting on the seminar, Adachi from TMG said: “We had a very high turnout. Those who came had won a lottery to attend; the event was actually over-subscribed. So we are very happy to see a high level of interest in TMG’s activities to attract foreign companies.
“This year, Tokyo is working with UK Trade & Investment to organise seminars in London, including those related to fintech [business based on using software to provide financial services] and provide support to various companies from the United Kingdom seeking investment opportunities in Japan”, she added. “If you need support, we welcome you and are willing to help. So please do not hesitate to contact us”.
In addition to receiving information packs about BDCT and JETRO, seminar guests engaged in an informative Q&A session, and had the opportunity to network.
Also included was a tour of the Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center (TOSBEC) that, along with BDCT, is located in Ark Hills in Minato Ward. TOSBEC unifies the procedures that foreign firms and start-ups need to follow when setting up in the city.
Created with the aim of making it easier for foreign-affiliated businesses to thrive, BDCT provides a complete service for foreign firms doing business in Tokyo. Working with partners, the centre also organises information dissemination events, such as the Invest Tokyo Seminar 2015.