Export To Japan May 2014

market insight

Beware of Corporate Laws

Japan benefits from an equitable legal framework, although experts warn that in many cases laws are not precise, leaving the details to be filled in by regulations and with discretion up to the administering bureaucrats. The precision that is seen in English documentation is also frequently absent.

The nature and size of a business may mean that greater focus is placed on specific Japanese laws—such as those related to intellectual property. The areas of managing employees and dealing with Japanese counterparts, however, are relevant for all types of businesses.

The cheapest and easiest way to enter the Japanese market is through the creation of a representative office, branch or Japanese company. If a company is required, the most commonly used body is a Japanese joint stock entity, known as a kabushiki kaisha, or KK for short.

Get Wise to Global Jinzai

Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder and CEO of online commerce giant Rakuten, Inc., stunned corporate Japan by announcing, in February 2010, that English was to become the firm’s official in-house language.

From day one, Mikitani told a recent press conference, his vision was to become a world leader in the online sales sector. And of all the problems he faced, the language barrier was by far the most formidable.

The imperative is not only for his own company.

“The Japanese economy and our GDP need this”, said Mikitani, pointing out that Japan accounted for 12% of the global economy in 2006, although that is expected to have shrunk to 8% in 2020 and a mere 3% by 2050.

Rakuten is busy hiring non-Japanese staff, who already make up 30% of its employees.

The new-found demand for language skills offers plenty of opportunities for specialist UK firms.

The full version of these articles can be viewed online at www.exporttojapan.co.uk.
Helping UK companies succeed in Japan