Doing Business with Japan
|State system||constitutional monarchy|
|Head of State||Naruhito|
|Head of government||Fumio Kishida|
|Currency name||yen (JPY)|
|Time shift||+8 hours (in summer +7 hours)|
|Ambassador||Martin Tomčo, Ph.D.|
|Economic section||M.Sc. Ondřej Svoboda, Ph.D.|
|Consular section||M.Sc. Lukáš Zícha, MA|
|PaulSourcing||Ing. Richard Schneider|
|Czechinvest||Ing. Richard Schneider|
|Nominal GDP (billion USD)||5,579.00|
|Economic growth (%)||1.7|
Japan is among the world’s most advanced economies with a stable legal environment. It is the world’s third largest individual economy (after the US and China) and a market with a high degree of purchasing power. Japan is a stable partner of the Czech Republic in the East Asian region. Mutual relations are problem-free in the long term, they develop in all areas and show increasing dynamics. The focus of relations is economic and cultural cooperation, Japan is also among the most important direct foreign investors in our country. The Japanese market offers a number of export opportunities for Czech companies and is characterized by a permanent interest in innovations, new products and high demands on quality and reliability. The reference obtained by success in the highly competitive Japanese market is a universal voucher and the best recommendation for entering the markets of other countries in the Asian region.
At the end of 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government came up with a program that aimed to stimulate growth in the long-term stagnant Japanese economy and reduce Japan’s public debt, which at the time already reached 240% of GDP. The so-called “Abenomics” rested on three pillars (arrows): the aggressive fiscal policy of the National Bank of Japan (BOJ), monetary easing and structural reforms. While the first two pillars were used to the maximum extent possible, structural reforms were introduced significantly more cautiously. For example, the government’s inflation target of 2% is not being achieved in the long term. Increased government spending in connection with the coronavirus crisis is also contributing to a further increase in public debt, and the revival of economic growth is not succeeding as well as in other advanced economies. The current Japanese government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida came up with the concept of “new capitalism” in economic policy with an emphasis on redistribution of wealth and sustainable growth. But the most urgent priority remains the recovery of the domestic economy affected by the coronavirus epidemic, which is reflected in the continued expansionary fiscal policy and the increase in government spending. Bigger changes are expected in the field of digitization and energy transition in view of the commitment to decarbonization by 2050.
Practical telephone numbers (emergency services, police, firemen, information lines, etc.)
- Police: 110
- Police (English): 03-3503-8484 or 03-3501-0110
- Fire / rescue service: 119
- Japan Helpline: 0120-461997 (24/7 free)
- Tourist information: 03-3201 3331
- Tokyo English Life Line: 03-5774-0992
- Free Medical Information Services: 03-5285 8181
Important web links and contacts
Government and Ministries
- Cabinet Office: https://www.cao.go.jp/index-e.html
· Prime Minister and his Cabinet: www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/index-e.html
· Ministry of Foreign Affairs: www.mofa. go.jp
· Ministry of Justice: http://www.moj.go.jp/EN/index.html
· Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications: www.soumu.go.jp/english/index.html
· Ministry of Finance: www.mof.go.jp/english/index.htm
· Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology: www.mext.go.jp/english/index.htm
· Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare: www.mhlw.go. jp/english/index.html
· Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: http://www.maff.go.jp/e/index.html
· Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry: www.meti.go.jp/english/ index.html
· Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport: www.mlit.go.jp/english/index.html
· Ministry of the Environment: www.env.go.jp/en/index.html
· Ministry of Defense: https://www.mod.go.jp/e/
Chambers of Commerce
- Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry: https://www.jcci.or.jp/english/
· Keidanren – Japan Federation of Economic Organizations: www.keidanren.or.jp/index.html
Other useful links
- Manufactured Imports Promotion Organization: www.mipro.or.jp/eng/top-e.html
· Japan Economic Foundation (JEF): www.jef.or.jp
· Business Development Center Tokyo: http://www.bdc- tokyo.org/en
· Japan Association of Corporate Executives: www.doyukai.or.jp/E_index.htm Media
· The Asahi Shimbun: www.asahi.com/english/index.html
· The Japan Times: www.japantimes.com
· Japan Press Weekly: www.japan-press.co.jp/
The Ten Commandments for Doing Business with Japan
The PaulSourcing agency has prepared ten recommendations for doing business with Japan for Czech entrepreneurs interested in business relations with Japan.
4 recommendations for entering the Japanese market during the coronavirus pandemic situation:
- Market Evaluation As part of preparing a marketing strategy for entering the Japanese market, first carefully consider which products to supply, to whom and through which channels. Japan has a highly developed, highly competitive and large domestic market, which is also saturated in most industries. Therefore, your product should be something unique and innovative.Be prepared for the necessity of adapting your product and accompanying services to the needs of the Japanese customer, including necessary certifications and translations. With an offer of industrial intermediate products, approach Japanese trading companies (so-called sogo shosha), which also have a representative office in Prague. These are trading companies with a broad industry focus, characteristic of Japan. In the case of products intended for end customers, you can choose the path of finding a Japanese importer or distributor.
- Finding and approaching potential partners Based on the determination of the target group and distribution channels, PaulSourcing Tokyo (ZK Tokyo) foreign office can help you select suitable business partners for the distribution of your products and verify their interest in the product. When initially approached, communicate in Japanese (or use the services of the ZK Tokyo office) and have promotional materials ready in good Japanese and a suitable font. It is not necessary to translate everything, a presentation, a leaflet or a shorter brochure or catalog is enough.Have a price list ready for the Japanese market if it can be prepared. If possible, please also send physical promotional materials and samples. In the current situation please be patient with the answers, the Japanese mentality is typical of high risk aversion and Japanese companies are now mostly in a situation where they try to maintain existing sales using traditional sources, suppliers and products and invest in new product launch to the market is risky for them.
- Personal meeting and product presentation Prepare to visit Japan in person as soon as possible. Japanese businessmen still prefer face-to-face meetings. Experience during the state of emergency, which limited face-to-face meetings, has taught many of them to use video calls, but it is still not a common practice. The personal visit of a high-ranking representative of the Czech company during the initial meeting gives the impression of great interest in starting future cooperation. This is beneficial for speeding up the negotiations, because a person of the appropriate status will arrive at the initial meeting from the Japanese side, which will add more weight to the negotiations.If your resources allow, come in pairs. Arrive at the initial personal meeting with an interpretation provided, even if the partner assures you in advance that English is not a problem. Even if the interpretation was not needed in the end, it is again a sign that you care about the meeting. Bring your printed promotional materials in Japanese and in an A4 envelope. Learn about business etiquette with the Japanese.
- Follow-up Follow up the personal meeting with a thank-you email, where you summarize the results of the meeting, deliver the promised information or documents, attach the used presentations and suggest the next course of action. If your potential partner clearly shows an interest in your product during negotiations, build on this foundation and initiate further steps, do not let that initial impulse fall asleep. Communicate, come a second time, invite your partner to the Czech Republic, propose a meeting on another occasion (for example, at a world fair). Inform interested parties about new products and campaigns.
The Ten Commandments for Trading with Japan
- Patience pays The golden rule for the Japanese market is patience. It is necessary to expect in advance that the establishment of a business relationship will take longer than we are used to from Europe. However, the reward for persistence is a quality and reliable business partner.
- Have an interpreter at the initial meeting Knowledge of Japanese is an advantage, but far from a necessity. However, it is necessary to take into account that knowledge of English in general in the population and among employees of companies with international activities fluctuates considerably, therefore it is necessary to have at least an interpretation provided for the initial meeting. Knowing basic phrases can break the ice, but using them incorrectly, especially in written form, is not appropriate.
- Informal meetings will help business The establishment and deepening of a business relationship can be accelerated by more informal meetings – for example, joint lunches, dinners, later even visits to bars or karaoke. Personal meetings usually bring more results than communication by email, phone or fax.
- Be punctual It is likely that your partner will be more than punctual. It is quite common for them to arrive at the agreed meeting about ten minutes early. You should never be a minute late. In the event of an unexpected delay of more than a few minutes, it is a good idea to apologize in advance by phone.
- Have meeting materials prepared in Japanese It is advisable to have printed materials and presentations translated into Japanese. For meetings and seminars, it is usual to have a package with brochures and printed presentations prepared for each participant. In Japanese of course.
- Find out what business etiquette is During business meetings, it is a good idea to follow certain rules of etiquette, starting with exchanging business cards and then handling them, meeting order in the meeting room, through preparing documents for the meeting, asking as many questions as possible and making as many notes as possible, until after escorting guests from the meeting. But these rules are there to make the situation easier, not harder.
- You score points with politeness and decency To a greater extent than elsewhere in the world, the emphasis is placed on politeness, moderation, decent behavior, which is generally based on the Japanese mentality. If a foreigner adheres to this approach, minor missteps in formal circumstances will not harm him, the Japanese are tolerant and understand differences.
- Pay attention to trustworthiness Keep written and unwritten agreements, your promises, and don’t lose confidence in the slightest by suspicious behavior. The Japanese are sensitive to any suspicious behavior, and although they may not overtly show it, it can mean a gradual dampening or termination of a business relationship.
- Contact matters It is important to take care of the client, build trust and long-term relationships, provide accurate and truthful information, and above all as soon as possible. The Japanese partners expect answers as quickly as possible, although it may happen that they themselves do not hear back for several weeks.
- Send an email after the meeting Follow up all meetings with an email where you repeat the conclusions of the meeting, deliver the promised information or documents, attach the presentations used and suggest the next course of action.