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As it oversees one of Japan’s National Strategic Special Zones dedicated to globalizing economic activity, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s goal is to create the world’s most business-friendly environment, offering an irresistible array of support measures geared to entice overseas businesses.

To reach its structural economic reform goals, the government of Japan has established nine National Strategic Special Zones as centers of global economic activity within its borders. Tokyo, part of the Tokyo Area National Strategic Special Zone, is already one of the planet’s greatest metropolises with a population of 13.37 million. As it prepares to host the Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, the city is taking proactive steps toward crafting one of the world’s most business-friendly environments.

As part of its long-term vision, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has set a number of important objectives, including the creation of a global financial center and new businesses in the life sciences. “To make Tokyo a world leader in global business, we must act quickly,” says Takafumi Kobayashi, Director for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s National Strategic Special Zone.

Within the special economic zone, special provisions in the City Planning Act and Road Act—as well as measures regarding the availability of overseas doctors for examination and treatment—have been established to make it easier for overseas firms to attract talent, and the cost-benefit analyses of such measures have been accelerated.

The key to the plan’s success is to attract overseas businesses to the Special Zone for Asian Headquarters. To encourage businesses to choose Tokyo as the site of their headquarters for Asian operations or for their R&D operations, measures that provide support and preferential treatment for these companies are receiving special consideration from a variety of perspectives, including legal, HR and accounting.
Overseas firms that consider making Tokyo their Asian regional headquarters or research and development center will also be offered free management consulting from a top consulting firm and help in formulating a strategy when the firm expands into the local market. The Special Zone for Asian Headquarters Subsidiary Program will also fund up to half of the expenses of founding a Tokyo business location, such as registration fees and hiring talent recruitment professionals—a maximum of five million yen in all.

Noriko Adachi, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s director for National Strategic Special Zone Coordination, reflects on the program’s successes: “Incentives such as subsidies or business partner matching and other consulting support lead to quick establishment of operations in Japan and financial stability. For many firms, these incentives are the deciding factors in their expansion into the Tokyo market.”

The Business Development Center Tokyo, a specialist service located in Akasaka, offers both English-language consultation on business practices in Japan and access to specialists in the incorporation process. Working in coordination with the Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center and the Tokyo Employment Consultation Center—all located on the same floor—the Business Development Center Tokyo can make expanding into the local market a smooth process even for firms that have never done business in Tokyo before.

The Business Development Center Tokyo also provides employees and their family members with general information on living in Tokyo, including real estate, shopping, medical care, education and more. It offers wide-ranging support on many other practical issues as well, such as introducing firms to tax breaks and office space that can be leased at half-price.

“Tokyo is the perfect location for businesses to get a foothold in Asia,” says Adachi, speaking of Tokyo’s prominence as a center of investment. “It’s a huge market packed with discriminating consumers, and products and services that succeed here can be expected to be hits in Asia.”

Tokyo’s added attractions—its wealth of exceptional human talent and partner firms that support business development in Japan; the quality of its urban environment, including a high degree of public order and safety; its rock-solid urban infrastructure; and its strong support of intellectual property rights—receive high marks from other countries. These advantages have proved persuasive: more than fifty firms, including IT, medical and environmental enterprises, have already decided to expand into Tokyo. Combined with the synergistic effect of partner firms, Adachi says, many of these businesses have grown beyond their expectations.

“As we head toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games, we want to increase the number of projects that can serve as tools in maintaining our position as an international center of business,” Kobayashi notes.

From the standpoint of attracting foreign investment, Adachi declares: “Just as with the Olympics, we want to attract the world’s top companies and talent to Tokyo, where domestic and international firms can thrive through healthy competition in what we hope to make the world’s greatest business environment.”

Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center: +81-3-3582-8352
Business Development Center Tokyo: +81-3-6269-9981
Tokyo Employment Consultation Center: +81-3-3582-8354