The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

The gross output of Aichi Prefecture’s manufacturing industry has grown to be more than the gross domestic product of the Netherlands or Austria. Nevertheless, the number of non-Japanese entrepreneurs in the area has not grown, and many barriers exist that must be overcome to change this—including local attitudes. It is often said that Japanese businesspeople in Nagoya tend to have a unique, hesitant temperament toward third parties, and do not easily accept them as business partners.

But, we now have the best opportunity yet to break through the barriers in Chubu for entrepreneurs from abroad. In April 2017, Aichi Prefecture was designated a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the fields of foreign entrepreneurs, education, aerospace, and agriculture by the administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The SEZ project is focused on creating the best environment for foreign investment through deregulation, based on paragraph 5 of Article 16 of the National Strategy Special Zone Law. When looking at the details, we find that each field has huge potential for those from abroad to start businesses and grow them in Chubu. The six-month visa program is particularly effective for enabling them to meet the requirements for establishing a corporation. However, this special arrangement is not well advertised, so the External Affairs Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Chubu chapter has decided to support the Aichi Prefectural Office and focus on the promotion of this visa program.

We now must turn to the other point, which is that these entrepreneurs will face many difficulties in continuing their businesses in Japan.

For example, they may not be aware of some business rules and traditions regarding renting offices, and they may not know how to open a bank account. In that case, if the ACCJ can help them follow the necessary procedures, these entrepreneurs will receive great assistance and are sure to form a good impression of the Chubu area.

One year after the establishment of a corporation, the immigration authorities will check the state of its management over the past year and decide whether the company can continue to operate. In this case, if ACCJ members can help check the financial situation every month, entrepreneurs can correct the course of the company to enhance its performance, ensuring that they can stay in business.

Cooperation with Aichi Prefecture to promote the activities of the SEZ is important, and will certainly have a positive impact on the status of the ACCJ in the Chubu region.

By contributing to Chubu through growing the number of entrepreneurs from abroad, the ACCJ will build win–win relationships that benefit not only these entrepreneurs, but ACCJ members, too. And, of course, Aichi Prefecture will also benefit greatly in terms of individual and corporate revenue.

Yuji Suzuki is co-chair of the ACCJ–Chubu External Affairs Committee