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Femmes Actives Japon. Starting a business in Japan. 13 December 2011 Yoko Majima - Legal Advisor, Immigration Lawyer. Introduction. Education One year students exchange program at a high school in Melbourne, Australia

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Femmes Actives Japon

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Femmes Actives Japon

Starting a business in Japan

13 December 2011

Yoko Majima - Legal Advisor, Immigration Lawyer


  • Education

    • One year students exchange program at a high school in Melbourne, Australia

    • Graduated from Sophia University, majoring in French studies (language, sociology), including one year exchange at Université Aix-Marseille I (Aix-en-Prevence)

  • Work history

    • Japanese fashion designer’s office in charge of International Dept.

    • Japanese importer of French wine and food

    • Permanent Mission of Japan in Geneva, Switzerland

    • Mission Economique, l’Ambassade de France au Japon

Starting your own business in Japan – how?

  • Two ways of doing business – as a sole proprietor (kojin jigyo / auto-entrepreneur) or by setting up a company


    • Business entity owned and run by one individual

    • Possible to use a different commercial name

    • No legal distinction between the owner and the business

    • All profits/losses, assets/debts of the business belong to the owner

Sole proprietor vs. company

  • Advantages of sole proprietorship

    • Easy to start – no registration required

    • Simple tax procedure

    • Low cost, no corporate tax

  • Disadvantages of sole proprietorship

    • Less credibility

    • Unlimited liability

    • No corporate bank account available

    • Difficult to manage when there are several partners

    • Higher tax rates when the profit exceeds certain amount

Sole proprietor vs. company

  • What is a company?

    • A legal entity that can be defined as an “artificial person” registered at the registry office (homukyoku)

    • Different types of legal entities – Kabushiki Kaisha (KK), Yugen Kaisha (YK), Godo Kaisha (GK), NPO, Association (shadan hojin), Foundation (zaidan hojin), LLP…

  • Advantages of a company

    • Credibility

    • Limited liability

    • Easier to manage when there are several partners

Sole proprietor vs. company

  • Disadvantages of a company

    • Registration required for setting up, changes, closing down – more time and costs involved

    • Complicated tax procedures (need to hire an accountant)

    • Two levels of taxation – corporate tax and personal tax

       However your visa category doesn’t always give you a free choice.

Different visa categories

Different visa categories

  • Visas that allow you to become a sole proprietor

    • Visa status without work restrictions

    • Freelance under a work visa – need to have stable contracts with Japanese companies (translator, IT engineer…)

    • Dependent, student, cultural activities visa – within 28 hours/week under a permission from Immigration office (or change to a work visa if working on full-time basis)

    • Working holiday visa (change to a work visa when the WHV expires)

    • Investor/Business Manager visa if 5 million yen investment can be proven without a company

Different visa categories

  • Visas that allow you to run a company

    • Visa status without working restrictions

    • Investor/Business Manager visa

    • Other types of work visa if someone else can become the Representative Director

    • Dependent, student, cultural activities visa – within 28 hours/week under a permission from Immigration office (or change to an “Investor/Business Manager” visa if working on full-time basis)

    • Working holiday visa (change to an “Investor/Business Manager” visa when the WHV expires)

Requirements for an Investor/Business Manager visa

  • To invest 5 million yen from foreign source (foreign company or individuals)

    • Investment from the visa holders without work restrictions doesn’t count

    • Doesn’t need to be your own funds

  • To have a physical, dedicated place of business (office, shop, etc.)

    • Virtual office is not accepted.

    • If working at home, a written consent from the landlord authorizing you to use the residence as an office is required

    • Could be a place rent out from a friend for free

Requirements to renew an Investor/Business Manager visa

  • Company’s financial stability

    • Ideally the company needs to generate a profit or have no loss.

    • It’s still possible to renew the visa even if the company is in loss, as long as the capital hasn’t been exhausted.

  • Payment of personal income and resident tax

    • The company needs to pay you a sufficient monthly salary (ideally 200,000 yen/month or above) and withhold the income tax to pay to the tax office on your behalf.

    • It is necessary to pay the resident tax (jumin-zei) to be able to provide a tax certificate (nozei shomeisho) for the visa renewal.

Different types of company

Procedures and requirements for setting up a company

  • Required documents

    • Inkan shomeisho (seal certificate) issued at the city hall or signature certificate issued by the Embassy or certified by a notary public abroad

    • Personal bank account in Japan (for deposit of capital)

  • Necessary to decide:

    • Office address in Japan

    • Representative Director who needs to be resident in Japan

    • Amount of capital (minimum 1 yen / 5 million yen for an Investor visa)

    • Other detail such as company name, activities…

Business requiring licenses

  • Importing and selling products such as medicines, cosmetics and other products that have contact with skin or could damage the health

  • Restaurant, café, catering, hotel, spa (sanitary requirements)

  • Importing and selling alcohol

  • Sale of used items (including auctions)

  • Travel agency

  • Real estate agent

  • Recruitment, temp agency

  • Investment brokerage, advisory

Taxes and social security

  • Corporate taxes

    • Corporate income tax (hojin-zei)

    • Corporate inhabitant tax (hojin jumin-zei)

    • Enterprise tax (jigyo-zei)

    • Effective tax rates from 25% to 40% (on taxable income)

    • Minimum tax 70,000 yen (even if the company is in loss)

    • Consumption tax (shohi-zei) 5% : 2 years after making 10MY sales

  • Personal taxes

    • Income tax (shotoku-zei), withheld from your salary (5, 10, 20, 23, 33 and 40%)

    • Inhabitant tax (jumin-zei): 10%

  • Social insurance

    • Health insurance

    • Pension

    • Limit of “dependent” status: 1.3 million yen income/year

    • No unemployment insurance availableas a business owner

Leaving Japan: what to do with the business started?

  • Manage from overseas: necessary to hire someone in Japan

  • Make company dormant

    • Until you can decide what to do or if you might come back to Japan

    • Still necessary to file the tax declaration once a year

  • Sell the business to someone interested

  • Close down the company (cost around 200,000 yen, 2-3 months procedure)

For more information…

Yoko Majima– Legal Advisor, Immigration Lawyer

www.juridique.jp - [email protected]

2F Minami Azabu Centre, 4-12-25 Minami-Azabu

Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0047

Thank you for your attention!

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