Supports for Foreign Companies

Startup Promotion Initiative for Foreigners: Q&A

Overview of the Startup Promotion Initiative for Foreigners

Who can utilize the scheme?

This program is based on a special provision to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to set up business in the National Strategic Special Zone. As a general rule, this program can be used by foreign nationals newly entering Japan to start up a business in Tokyo (and other so-designated special zones). (Foreign nationals who are already residing in Japan under other status of residence (excluding “Student”) cannot, in principle, use this program to change their status of residence.)

What are the benefits of the program?
Also, how does it differ from regular residence status granted by the Immigration Bureau?

This program has been established as an exception to the Business Manager status of residence. Under standard procedures, in order to be granted Business Manager status, the applicant needs to fulfill conditions at the time of entering the country, such as having two or more full-time employees or capital/investments of at least five million yen. Under this program, however, status of residence will be granted for six months to start up the business when it is acknowledged that the applicant is highly likely to fulfill these requirements within six months after entry; that the business startup activities under review are pertinent to strengthening the international competitiveness of industries and forming a center for international economic activities in the national strategic special zone; and that the business plan is proper and reliable.
Applying for regular residence status is done at the Immigration Bureau, however, this system is a two-step procedure in which the applicant needs to first obtain Confirmation of Business Startup Activities from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and then apply to the Immigration Bureau by presenting the certificate of this confirmation together with other documents.
If you believe that you already meet the requirements for Business Manager status , we recommend that you apply directly to the Immigration Bureau. If you plan to establish a business in Tokyo in the near future and expect preparations to be completed within six months, we hope you will use this program to engage in startup activities.

If I receive the Certificate of Confirmation of Business Startup Activities from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, will I be certain to obtain the Business Manager status of residence?

The Certificate of Confirmation of Business Startup Activities issued by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is an important document for the Immigration Bureau’s review, however it does not guarantee that your application will be approved.

What aspects of startup activities will you check? Are there cases where confirmation of business startup activities is not granted?

The submitted Plan for Business Startup Activities and other documents are assessed from the perspective of whether you have a high likelihood of fulfilling the conditions for Business Manager status after the six-month preparation period (startup activity period), in which case, confirmation of business startup activities will be granted. For this reason, it is important that the submitted Plan for Business Startup Activities and other documents include the following information, explained in an easy-to-understand manner.

  • What kind of business will you engage in? [Business details]
  • Where will you conduct business? [Area of operation]
  • Where will your office be located? [Office location]
  • What kind of preparations and activities will you take and do to launch your business? [Concrete plans up to launch of business]
  • How much money will you require prior to business launch (for startup activities)? How will you raise those funds? [Startup activity funds]
  • (If you are establishing a company) Who will be the corporate officers and what roles will they perform? [Corporate officers]
  • What will be the scale of your operations? [Business size]
  • Have you secured a place to stay (during startup activities) until your business is launched?
  • Do you have sufficient funds to support yourself? [Residence, living funds]

I am currently living overseas but am thinking of going to Japan in the future. Am I eligible to apply?

You can apply. A person who falls under any of the following can bring the documents that need to be submitted at the time of application to the application desk. Please note that application documents will not be accepted by postal mail or other methods.

People who fall under any of the following should bring the documents to be submitted at the time of application to the application desk. Please note that application documents will not be accepted by postal mail or other methods.

<People who can submit application documents>
  1. Applicant
  2. A member of the staff of a public interest incorporated association or a public interest incorporated foundation∗,which has the purpose of facilitating the smooth acceptance of foreign nationals, and whom the director of the regional immigration Services Agency deems to be suitable (∗Currently, the Japan Immigration Association fulfills these conditions.)
  3. An attorney or administrative scrivener who has, through his/her bar association or administrative scrivener association, given notification to the director of the regional immigration Services Agency that has jurisdiction over the association. However, if the applicant is not in Japan, this person will be someone (or staff member of a company) commissioned by the applicant to establish a business in Japan
※If the application documents are submitted by a person described in (2) or (3), documentation that clarifies his/her relationship with the applicant and proves that he/she is in the position to do so, must be also be presented.

I plan to live in Tokyo and establish a business outside of Tokyo. Can I use this scheme?

This program is for foreign nationals who will conduct startup activities in Tokyo in order to establish an office in Tokyo and launch business. Accordingly, even if you apply, you will not be eligible for confirmation of business startup activities.

I am currently staying in a hotel on a short-term basis. What should I write as my address in the application?

On your application form, you will need to provide an address for issuance of the Certificate of Confirmation of Business Startup Activities and to also allow us to contact you during your six-month stay. Following your application, if you must change your address before the end of the six months, notify the Tokyo Metropolitan Government of your new contact details so that we can contact you at any time.

I do not intend to establish a business myself (will not be involved in the business), but my family (a relative) plans to establish a business in Tokyo. Can I also apply for this program?

This program is for those who plan to start up their own new business (the owner, management, etc.) and therefore others, including family members, even those who will be employees of that business, are not eligible to apply. However, they could be eligible for another status of residence. We recommend that you consult with the Immigration Bureau.

I plan to take over the operations of an acquaintance’s company Can I use this scheme?

This program is for foreigners who will start a new business, and therefore, you are not eligible. However, you could be eligible for another status of residence. We recommend that you consult with the Immigration Bureau.

I will establish the business jointly with another person(s). How should we apply?

 Approval for status of residence is granted individually. Each person must complete and submit his/her own application form and documents.
When two or more people plan to jointly establish the business, documents “2. Business Overview” to “4. Funding Plan” will most likely be identical, however we require that each individual complete and submit all application documents.

I will jointly establish the business, however only I will be involved in management, and the other(s) will be employee(s) of the business. How should we apply?

This program covers the business management aspect of the Business Manager status of residence. In other words, it is aimed at foreign nationals who will themselves start a new business (as the management), therefore it is not applicable to employees and others, even if they are founding members. Whether or not somebody is considered as being involved in management will be judged practically according to their investment (share) in the business, their role in the business, etc.

Does the Certificate of Confirmation of Business Startup Activities have an expiry date?

It is valid for three months. You must submit the certificate together with other required documentation within this period to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau and apply for issuance of a Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence.

Application Procedures

Where can I obtain an application form? Also, where should I submit the form?

You can download the application documents from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government website.



https://www.senryaku.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/invest_tokyo/english/invest-tokyo/fhr.html
The forms are also available at the following locations.

Business Development Center TOKYO【Akasaka Desk】

People who fall under any of the following should bring the documents to be submitted at the time of application to the application desk. Please note that application documents will not be accepted by postal mail or other methods.

<People who can submit application documents>
  1. Applicant
  2. A member of the staff of a public interest incorporated association or a public interest incorporated foundation∗,which has the purpose of facilitating the smooth acceptance of foreign nationals, and whom the director of the regional immigration Services Agency deems to be suitable (∗Currently, the Japan Immigration Association fulfills these conditions.)
  3. An attorney or administrative scrivener who has, through his/her bar association or administrative scrivener association, given notification to the director of the regional immigration Services Agency that has jurisdiction over the association. However, if the applicant is not in Japan, this person will be someone (or staff member of a company) commissioned by the applicant to establish a business in Japan
※If the application documents are submitted by a person described in (2) or (3), documentation that clarifies his/her relationship with the applicant and proves that he/she is in the position to do so, must be also be presented.

People who fall under any of the following should bring the documents to be submitted at the time of application to the application desk. Please note that application documents will not be accepted by postal mail or other methods.

People who fall under any of the following should bring the documents to be submitted at the time of application to the application desk. Please note that application documents will not be accepted by postal mail or other methods.

<People who can submit application documents>
  1. Applicant
  2. A member of the staff of a public interest incorporated association or a public interest incorporated foundation∗,which has the purpose of facilitating the smooth acceptance of foreign nationals, and whom the director of the regional immigration Services Agency deems to be suitable (∗Currently, the Japan Immigration Association fulfills these conditions.)
  3. An attorney or administrative scrivener who has, through his/her bar association or administrative scrivener association, given notification to the director of the regional immigration Services Agency that has jurisdiction over the association. However, if the applicant is not in Japan, this person will be someone (or staff member of a company) commissioned by the applicant to establish a business in Japan
※If the application documents are submitted by a person described in (2) or (3), documentation that clarifies his/her relationship with the applicant and proves that he/she is in the position to do so, must be also be presented.

How long will it take to receive the results after I apply?

After having an interview with a TMG official, you will receive the results in approximately two weeks if all necessary documentation is in order. However, it may take longer if there is an inadequacy in the documentation, a need for additional documents, or if we receive many applications around the same time.
In order to acquire a status of residence, you also need to submit the Certificate of Confirmation of Business Startup Activities issued by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other required documentation to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau and complete the prescribed procedures. Please inquire at the Immigration Bureau about how long it will take to complete the procedures.

After submitting my application, details such as my address/contact information or business details have changed. What should I do?

If there has been a change to your address/contact information, please notify the application desk (Business Development Center TOKYO) immediately and submit a Notice of Changes along with supporting documentation. If there are changes to the business details, please explain this at the meetings confirming your progress during the six-month startup period.

How will you contact me with the outcome? Where can I receive the Certificate of Confirmation of Business Startup Activities? Also, if I am not granted Confirmation of Business Startup Activities, will you tell me the reason why?

Upon hearing the views of experts on business management, when it has been acknowledged that the application for issuance of the certificate is appropriate and that the business fulfills all the requisites provided in (a) to (d) of item (i) of Article 18 of the Enforcement Order (“the requisites”), the Certificate of Confirmation of Business Startup Activities will be issued. If you have been granted the certificate, the certificate will be either delivered by mail or handed down in-person.


When it has been acknowledged that the application for issuance of the certificate was not in order or that it did not satisfy some of the requisites, a Notification on the Results of the Confirmation of Business Startup Activities will mailed by post to notify the applicant that the certificate cannot be issued.

Preparing a Plan for Confirmation of Business Startup Activities, etc.

I am not sure how to fill out the forms. Where can I go for more information?

 The Business Development Center TOKYO can answer your questions. Assistance can also be provided in English.

There is not enough space on the forms provided to write my information. What should I do?

You can add extra lines to the forms if you download them. If you are writing on the forms provided, please attach separate pages with the information.

Can I complete the forms in my own language? If my supporting documentation (original) is not in Japanese, is it necessary to attach a Japanese translation?

Your application and other forms must all be completed in Japanese. Your name should be written in the alphabet (Roman letters) or in Japanese characters (kanji, hiragana, katakana) as appropriate.
If you submit documentation written in a language other than Japanese (copies of certificates, etc.), please attach a Japanese translation.

The overall plan for my business is not concrete yet. Can I leave sections blank that I am unable to answer?

Your Plan for Business Startup Activities should describe business plans that are feasible, with this feasibility supported by a certain level of evidence. Please do not include plans that have little or no possibility of being realized. You may leave sections that you cannot answer blank, but note that the feasibility of your business plan will be judged by the contents written in the plan. If you will be leaving many sections blank, we recommend that you apply after giving more thought to your business plan.

What kinds of things should I write for “1. Description of Applicant, (2) Your position and role in the business”?

I cannot think of anything to write for “1. Description of Applicant (3) List your qualifications, work experience, special skills, patents owned, etc. that serve as background to your founding of the business.” What sort of things should I write? Can I leave it blank?

I cannot think of anything to write for “1. Description of Applicant (3) List your qualifications, work experience, special skills, patents owned, etc. that serve as background to your founding of the business.” What sort of things should I write? Can I leave it blank?

In the confirmation of the Plan for Business Startup Activities, the evaluation will focus on how possible it will be for the applicant to launch a business of a scale that meets the requirements through his/her startup activities. We think that this probability is higher when the person has the abilities, qualifications, experience and so on that will work to the advantage of the proposed business. In addition to nationally-recognized qualifications, it may be helpful if you include information such as“majored in A and especially researched B at university,” and“experience in developing sales channels for product A to leading company B, company C, and others in the D industry.” Another important element is, as also outlined in the policy for the Tokyo Area National Strategic Special Zone, "to create a new internationally competitive business."

Regarding “1. Description of Applicant (5) Scheduled opening of business (b) Industry,” I plan to start my business without creating a company. What should I write for “Scheduled Opening of Business” and "Capital Stock (or Personal Funds)"?

Generally, the date of opening of a business conducted as a corporation is the date of its registration as a corporate entity, and for a sole proprietorship in which a corporation is not established, this is the date that the Notification of Opening of Business was submitted to the tax office. The opening of business could also be interpreted as the first day of sales.
For a sole proprietorship, in the Capital Stock (or Personal Funds) line, indicate the amount of working funds especially prepared to launch the business.

Because I have only just arrived in Japan, I have no idea about the specific contents or figures for the breakdown of customers, unit sales price, costs and so on required in “2. Business Overview.” What should I do?

When starting a new business, a large amount of money and effort is required, and the risk of failure is not small. We recommend that you apply after establishing a concrete image of your business by gathering more information in your field of expertise.

Regarding "2. Business Overview (5) Reason why the business can generate profits,” I do not plan to conduct business for profits, therefore I do not know how to answer this. What should I do?

Even if your business does not generate profits, it could be considered eligible for Confirmation of Business Startup Activities as long as it "contributes to strengthening the international competitiveness of industries and boosting international economic activities in Tokyo.” However, please note that generally, if the business is judged unlikely to produce enough profit to maintain a certain scale of business, it will not receive Confirmation of Business Startup Activities. If you are considering something other than a profit-making enterprise, we recommend that you discuss possibilities with the Immigration Bureau including an application for a different status of residence.

Item "3. Schedule for Startup Activities" is vague and I do not know what I should write. What are the points that I should keep in mind when writing this?

Please arrange stage by stage what you must do to establish your business, such as the administrative procedures for establishing a corporate entity (preparing articles of incorporation, paid-in capital, registration of incorporation, acquisition of permits and licenses, etc.); plans for the hiring of management and staff; preparation of goods and services; creation of relationships with customers and suppliers; financing and so on. Take care to do so in a manner that makes the points for the Confirmation of Business Startup Activities easy to understand as mentioned in the answer to Question “What aspects of startup activities will you check? Are there cases where confirmation of business startup activities is not granted?” above. In particular, you must realistically note how much money will be needed at each stage and how this will be provided for.

I plan to start business immediately. In that case, is it still necessary for me to write a six-month plan in item "3. Schedule for Startup Activities"?

In this case, for the period after the launch of business, write down your plans for developing the business (sales activities, production activities, etc.), revenues and procurement of funds, and others.

I am not sure how much sales or expenses to expect. How should I fill in “4. Income Plan”? Also, what items should I include in the breakdown of sales and expenses?

It is difficult to forecast future sales and expenses. However, these are essential to evaluate business sustainability and to check the items necessary for Confirmation of Business Startup Activities, as described in Question 4 above. For this reason, based on reasonable grounds, provide figures that are in line with the expected nature of your business and customers (e.g., average unit price, number of customers)
For breakdown of sales and expenses, indicate the leading items (items of high value, items characteristic of the business, etc.), and combine the other items under "Other.” Generally speaking, in many cases, the breakdown of sales is done by type of product/service, or by customer; the cost of sales includes cost of materials, outsourcing, labor (personnel costs of people manufacturing the goods); and selling and administration costs including HR expenses (personnel costs of the indirect departments), rent, lease, and marketing costs (advertising, communications, travel, shipping, etc.). Income after income tax is calculated by deducting interest payments, extraordinary loss, corporate income tax, etc. from operating income. Income after income tax corresponds to "’This period’s income” in “5. Financial Plan“

How should I fill in “5. Financial Plan”? How does this differ from “4. Income Plan”?

The income plan shows how much profit (or loss) is produced after expenses are deducted from sales. The financial plan shows how much money is left in the company’s “wallet” (cash). As can be understood from the term “black-ink bankruptcy,” even though a company is generating profit, it may lack sufficient cash, In order to grant Confirmation of Business Startup Activities, it would be necessary for you to show that the business will be able to secure sustainable levels of profit and funding.
In general, cash flows are calculated by deducting cash outlays that are not included as expenses (use of funds), such as real estate purchases, capital investment, and repayment of debt from (post-tax) profit, and adding new funds procured and expenses with no cash outlays (capital procurement) such as depreciation costs, debts, and capital increase.

I intend to work in Japan for the six-month period approved under this system to save sufficient funds to start the business. In this case, am I still required to describe the method by which I will procure funds?

The six-month period of stay status granted under this system is for the purpose of undertaking startup activities and in principle, employment (activity other than that permitted under the status of residence) is not permitted. If you have not secured the funds required to support yourself for six months and conduct startup activities, it will probably be difficult to receive Confirmation of Business Startup Activities.

Other matters

I have never used a seal before. I think it will take some time to make my name seal in Japan. Is it absolutely necessary to use a seal on my documents?

Those who are from regions where seals are not used, or who have trouble obtaining a seal may sign the documents instead of affixing their seal. In principle, the signature must match the signature on your passport.

What specifically is meant by "Document that can clarify where the applicant will be residing for six months after coming to Japan "?

If you plan to live in rented housing, documentation will be the lease agreement or application, and in the case of other long-term accommodations, documentation proving your reservation. If you will stay in a private residence, documentation acknowledging your stay prepared by the person providing accommodation and documentation verifying that that person resides there (lease agreement, etc.) If you must pay rental fees, etc., you must also submit documentation proving that you can pay the fees for at least six months (savings balance statement). ※When changing the residence status from ”Student”, make a copy of the residence certificate and both sides of the residence card.

What specifically are referred to by "Other supporting documents"?

These can be any documents that support your application for Confirmation of Business Startup Activities, including a pamphlet for the business (company) you will start, an product (or service) guide, contracts with (potential) clients, documents certifying your background and achievements, and documents that prove that you have secured business funds (and funds to support yourself).

I heard that, under this system, progress will be confirmed after receiving the six-month status of residence. What do I specifically have to do?

Confirmation of progress made will be conducted three times during the six-month period. In principle, we will visit your place of business or residence to ask you about the progress of your startup activities and will compare your actual activities with the details described in your Plan for Business Startup Activities.
Also, in order to confirm your current financial status, we may ask to see your bankbook, etc. You must consent to cooperate with these checks when you apply for Confirmation of Business Startup Activities. (*You will confirm and sign the terms of agreement of the Application (and Agreement) for Confirmation of Business Startup Activities.)

How far back should I provide details in the “Work Experience” section? What should I do if I have so much (academic and work) information to write that there is not enough space?

The information you provide is up to you, however you should include information that supports the evaluation of your new business or potential of your startup activities. This could include your major field of study and research at school, and your work experience and achievements.
If there is not enough space, you can insert additional lines or attach separate sheets of paper.

Is it permissible to entrust application procedures to an agent?

The applicant himself/herself must prepare documents such as the Application for Confirmation of Business Startup Activities and Plan for Business Startup Activities. A person who falls under any of the following can bring the documents that need to be submitted at the time of application to the application desk. Please note that application documents will not be accepted by postal mail or other methods

People who fall under any of the following should bring the documents to be submitted at the time of application to the application desk. Please note that application documents will not be accepted by postal mail or other methods.

<People who can submit application documents>
  1. Applicant
  2. A member of the staff of a public interest incorporated association or a public interest incorporated foundation∗,which has the purpose of facilitating the smooth acceptance of foreign nationals, and whom the director of the regional immigration Services Agency deems to be suitable (∗Currently, the Japan Immigration Association fulfills these conditions.)
  3. An attorney or administrative scrivener who has, through his/her bar association or administrative scrivener association, given notification to the director of the regional immigration Services Agency that has jurisdiction over the association. However, if the applicant is not in Japan, this person will be someone (or staff member of a company) commissioned by the applicant to establish a business in Japan
※If the application documents are submitted by a person described in (2) or (3), documentation that clarifies his/her relationship with the applicant and proves that he/she is in the position to do so, must be also be presented.

What procedures do I need to take at the end of my six-month period of stay?

If you will be staying in Japan after the end of your six-month stay in order to manage your business, undertake procedures at the Tokyo Immigration Services Agency to renew your status of residence.
If it becomes difficult for you to continue your startup activities during your six-month stay, or if your “business manager” visa is not renewed, you must leave Japan. Be sure to have money for a return trip (equivalent to one-way airfare to your home country) kept separate from the funds needed for your business.]