Starting Business In Japan
[Paperwork And Renting An Office]
If you are vaguely wondering how would it be like to start a business or even thinking about having an entity in Japan, I can tell you that it will cost you much more than you expect. If you think hiring a local person would make the process any faster or easier, maybe in some ways you are right, but most likely, you will still be frustrated. You have to order your customized stamp, your company stamp, and a bank stamp, usually hand-crafted (or you can choose a crappy one that chips as you use them, which will eventually get you in trouble). You will then, need to register your stamp, office, and deal with real estate which is a pain. By renting an office, in most cases, it will cost half year (6 months) rent as “deposit.” The concept of “deposit” is quite different from what it is from the rest of the world. You will be lucky if you receive 4 months back even if you leave the office in the nicest condition.
This is just a tip of an iceberg. The above, could be solved within a month or two, if you hire the “right person.” There are things that you cannot solve by hiring.
[The Amazing Infrastructure]
There is the internet connection issue. You’d think that in such high-tech developed country like Japan, Wi-Fi is everywhere, available for everyone. You are wrong. I have tried several internet providers, and also used pocket Wi-Fis, but around 16:00 to 17:00, when your work is probably at the busiest moment, you will be suffering from poor internet connection. Even some mobile phones don’t work (depending on your carrier). I am currently working on the upper half of a tall building, and I hear office workers in the same building complain that some carriers do not work on specific floors.
Now, even if you accept some of the difficulties in connecting the internet during normal working hours, you will still have to go through a long explanation of the contract, and the sales calls you receive even after the connection. If you are lucky, you will get connected to the internet within 2 weeks from contacting an agent to simply get your PC connected.
There are some positive sides, especially for employees. Lunch menus are extremely cheap compared to, other “developed” countries. You can easily find restaurants with lunch menus costing maybe half of what would be charged in California, US. Even McDonald’s is much cheaper than the pricing in the US, consisting of menus that are well “localized.”
The labor law protects employees so much that in order for you to get fired, once you join a huge company is very slim, unless you do something very bad--like not show up to work. Otherwise, it will be very tough for a company to dismiss a personnel with just “poor performance,” which should be a good enough reason to be fired in many other countries.
Most of the huge companies are located in Tokyo. Public transportation is always on time, mostly clean (except at night after drinking parties), and they run all around Tokyo until mid-night (depending on the line). You can probably find a few people that can speak English when in most parts of Tokyo, and most signs have alphabets. If you know the name of where you want to go, someone will guide you, and Japanese are very kind to foreigners, so unless it is your very first time visiting another country, you will not get so lonely or homesick. As long as you have the patience, cash, solid business idea and the right connections, you will probably enjoy working in Tokyo. You just need to be really committed/patient and open minded for some of the paperwork and the old trends that you must follow at times. Otherwise, it is probably one of the nicest cities to work in.
Now, working in other cities than Tokyo, could be a whole different story, and I could probably write a book about it, so I must stop here. We will disclose more of the Japanese norms that some foreign companies may freak out about in future posts.