NewsCase StudiesEvents

Jon Sparks : Japan


Experts for Japan

Recent forum posts


  1. Indian citizen willing to set up a food business in NZ..

    Hi thereI am an Indian citizen who wishes to set up food business in NZ (Auckland or Wellington) Can someone advise how do we go about??Quick Questions:- Is it possible for Indian citizens to set up business in NZ?- If yes, how do we go about?Suggestions/Advise if highly appreciatedCheersG

    Total Posts: 1 Last post by ongautam

  2. Starting a Business in Greece

    Hi, I would like a hint on what do I need in order to start up a business in Greece! I am US citizen, I have a MA in Psychology. What would I need in order to open a practice or open a kindergarten for people who want their kids to learn English?

    Total Posts: 4 Last post by Angeliki

Ask a question

Ask the Experts: Jon Sparks

Japan Business Expert

Your contact details will also be forwarded on to Jon Sparks. If you do not want your contact information to be sent with your question, then please tick this box

Jon Sparks

Japan Business Expert

Jon is a permanent resident in Japan with a long and diverse exposure to business in Japan.

As CEO Jon lead:

  • A Japan headquartered professional services firm with operations in 9 countries
  • One of Japanís largest domestic staffing and outsourcing services firms

As a non-executive director Jon has been on the Board of Japanese companies in three industries. He is a member of the Board Directors Institute of Japan:

  • Japanese pharmaceutical market research firm
  • Japanese retirement homes construction and management firm
  • A Japan headquartered global IT services company providing real-time POS analytics and forecasting

Partnership formation and M&A. Jon has lead or participated in 24 M&A and numerous partnership introductions and formations spanning Japan domestic and international in to and out from Japan.

Jon currently leads SpringBoard Japan which is headquartered in Tokyo with offices in India, Singapore, Hong Kong & Australia

+852 5273 0198

  1. Hi Jon, My company would like to expand the business in Japan and we re now looking for the way to do so. Ideally, we would like to open a bank account in one of the japanese bank. We have already set up a company in Hong Kong, what option we have in order to get in Jap market? Setting up a branch office or register as an offshore company? Besides, it would be nice if you could advise the services your company provides and the fee charges . Many thanks! Looking forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Nicole Question from Nicole Tin on 15/02/2018

    Jon says:

    Hi Nicole, We can set up a Branch office or a standalone company. The price and time to do so is about the same and each have their pros and cons depending on your objectives. Best we talk through this as it is more accurate than email. Whichever way you go, we can do everything for you, including representing you so there is no need for you to spend weeks in Japan while registration takes place. One essential topic. We will seek to validate your Japan entity ownership structure the same way the banks will do so for there is zero value in setting up an entity for you if we are not confident the entity can open a bank

  2. Hi Jon, I want to register a company in Japan to start a crypto currency exchange to service clients in India. Need your expert opinion on how to go about it, costs and time involved, etc. Question from Vivek Avasthi on 09/02/2018

    Jon says:

    I have been asked this question in various forms many times in the last handful of months. Step 1 get an agent in Japan who can set up a company for you as part of which MAKE SURE the company can get open a bank account. Many banks will not work with crypto traders. If you are a sizeable company with a solid track record so this may not be an issue for you but make sure you confirm this before you proceed any further. Step 2 have a detailed business plan for the Japanese regulatory authorities will go over this in detail to determine what license you require. Again, you will need a knowledgeable agent in Japan to work through this process. Once these steps are successfully completed, you are in a position to determine timelines, costs of establishment etc

  3. Hey John, As a sole proprietor in Japan, can I hire a foreigner on a short term contract (4 months)? I have not hired any staff to date. Question from Karine Rogers on 12/01/2018

    Jon says:

    There are very few restrictions on who you can hire. Hiring a foreigner is fine provided they have a visa that allows them to work in Japan

  4. Hi Jon, My company is looking to expand in Tokyo it is a fast food retailer. what are the 3 key legal factors that i have to consider if i want to expand. thanks Question from Maria Trejo on 28/11/2017

    Jon says:

    You are looking to expand in Tokyo so I understand you already have the basics in place eg the correct type of company has been set up, insurance is in place and you understand HR particularly around the use of temp workers. From there the next 3 areas to look at are

    1. Get the correct license. Eg a restaurant license is under the Food Hygiene Law. However, if you operate a bar that serves light food, then you will be under the Entertainment Business Law

    2. Confirm what you are doing in terms of the sale of alcohol. It is possible to serve alcohol in a restaurant without having to obtain a permit. However, if you are selling alcohol to take out, this will be retail or wholesale which requires a permit from the tax office

    3. Make sure you are complying with the Fire Protection Law. Restaurants must appoint a fire prevention manager who has had to have completed a course - the type of course they require depends on the size of the venue

    Best of luck with the expansion Jon

  5. Hello Jon - I have been doing my research to import goods from Japan to the UK, mostly homeware/kitchenware deco and lifestyle goods - I have a couple of contacts in Japan, and although my knowledge of the japanese language is pretty much inexistant - i am trying to figure out 2 things: 1) is it possible to find interpreters in japan who might be interested in accompanying me when visiting local businesses (wholesalers) to help negociate prices on bulk goods to be exported to the UK and 2) as it is more than likely that i will hopefully be shipping palette loads of goods from Japan, where could i find help/advice in completing the necessary paperwork for japanese customs (or should i solely be focusing on paperwork for entry into the UK) ? or maybe you could direct me towards someone who might have specialist knowledge in this field ? much appreciated - thanks Barni. Question from barni livingston on 22/11/2017

    Jon says:

    G'day Barni, I can introduce you to a person who should be able to help you in both of the areas you have enquired about - will do this directly rather than in this forum. Best of luck with your venture. Regards, Jon

  6. Good day Mr. Sparks, I'm an IT professional who is moving to Japan, and in order to continue working for my clients in the U.S., I am going to start a sole proprietorship here. My issue is, as you may have guessed, professional liability (and general liability as well). My U.S. client requires this insurance for sub-contractors. All my clients are based in the U.S. at present, but companies that provide this insurance in the U.S. (such as Hiscox) require that the business be based in the U.S. Are there Japanese companies that I can contract with to provide this insurance? Thank you Question from Clay Bowen on 13/11/2017

    Jon says:

    Popular question - the same topic has come up perhaps 6 times in 6 months.

    The Japanese regulatory authorities require Professional Indemnity insurance to be written by a Japanese company. You could try contacting an insurer directly but that will almost certainly fail. This leaves you 2 options.

    1. Contact a broker such as Aon to see if they can arrange insurance. They might hesitate as you are new to Japan, or
    2. Work for your client via a Managed Services company such as This allows you to be covered by the company's insurance policies

  7. I came through about small business insurance (called public liability) in japan by google. I am living in Japan since 2012. I am doing freelance for IT Technical with support of Japanese company visa sponsor. I would like to know about 1. Registered Freelancer/ Self employed in Japan - What are the procedures ? 2. Public liability Insurance in Japan - What are the procedures ? I have myself paying for National Health Insurance and National Pension. Please advise me your thoughts for same Question from Amit Selvam on 09/11/2017

    Jon says:

    There is no self-employed visa. However, you can self-sponsor your visa at the time of renewal of your current visa. To qualify, some basic criteria are that you

    Need to earn at least 250,000 yen per month
    Will still need to have a business as your main employer. Try using the agency through which you get your current freelance work
    Will need to prove that your income tax contributions are up to date, as well as your city taxes
    Need a letter of release from your previous company

    The immigration bureau is very thorough in their approval process which can take weeks or months and you may be asked for additional documentation. If you are seriously thinking of applying for self-sponsorship, you consult an immigration lawyer

    Public Liability and Professional Liability need to be via a Japanese insurance company. You will find this hard to get so suggest you approach a broker such as Aon when applying

  8. hi jon! i,m from spain and would like to open a limited company in japan , im planing to vist tokoyo in next month, how much total cost and time ,do i need an others person OR i can do alone ? thanks Question from SYED HUSSAIN on 15/10/2017

    Jon says:

    Depending on the type of company structure and the complexity of the structure itself eg are you the only shareholder or is another company a shareholder, it costs about JPY400,000. Allow 4 weeks to get set up. You do not need to be in Japan or visit Japan to establish a company, rather you can use a local agent acting on your behalf. As you will be in Japan you can do the establishment yourself.

  9. I am a sports physiotherapist. I moved to Japan one year ago and set up my own company, Peak Physiotherapy. Currently I have professional liability insurance with a singaporean company because I used to live there, but I would like to now switch to a japanese company. It's difficult to find information or a japanese insurance company that will cover a foreign physiotherapist as Im not registered as a physiotherapist in Japan (you have to pass a language fluency exam). Any advice on companies I can enquire with? Question from Karine Rogers on 17/09/2017

    Jon says:

    G'day Karinepaquita

    Japan law requires professional indemnity insurance be provided by a Japanese licensed company. Physiotherapy might be an exception but I doubt it. So you Singapore policy might not cover you in Japan

    To register as a physiotherapist in Japan, you have to pass a language exam Ė this is true plus there are quite a few more requirements. I know 2 non-Japanese who have managed to register and both had difficult, complicated and lengthy processes

    In terms of getting Japanese insurance without a license. I am not aware of anybody who has been able to do this. I suggest you talk to a couple of foreign sports physios who are in a similar situation to yourself to see what they have done. Try Jeff Peterson at Fit Rehab or any of the other groups of non-Japanese practitioners such as Tokyo Physio in Hiroo


  10. Hi Jon, I have started a company in Japan, and I have a client that wants to do a consulting contract for about 200K (USD). However, the contract requires professional indemnity insurance. The problem is, the client is a Singapore company, the work will be performed in Japan, and the contract specifies that it is governed by Singapore laws and disputes handled by Singapore courts. I have contacted several Japan insurance companies, and all their policies only provide cover under Japan jurisdiction and disputes resolved in Japan courts. I have also contacted some international insurance brokers, but they won't provide cover to startups. Also, I have asked the Singapore company if they could change to contract so that it is governed by Japan law; but they rejected this. Any suggestions? At the moment, it looks like I will lose the contract on this issue. Question from Daniel Price on 08/08/2017

    Jon says:

    G'Day Daniel,

    It is a Japanese Government requirement that Professional indemnity insurance must be written by a Japan licensed insurance company. As a result, companies that work across borders must have at least 2 insurance policies - this is the situation for my company where I have Professional indemnity insurance in Japan as well as another policy covering my operations in Singapore, HK, Australia, India .... So, the situation you've encountered is normal.

    Unfortunately, the only way I know to get around this is for you to do the work for your client as a "contractor" to a Japanese country which has Professional indemnity insurance both in Japan and Singapore.

  11. we are interested in set up of JAPAN TRADE CENTER USA, as a one stop shop for markeeting and promotion of made in japan goods /services in united states of america. 1t is patterned after japan trade centre dubai[] we need your assistance to locate a japnese partner who will be our partner . we wrote japan bank for international co-operation and they promised to support the project as soon as we get a japanese partner Question from malachy asogwa on 20/07/2017

    Jon says:


    Your timing on setting up a Japan Trade Centre is very good for Japanese business are actively looking outwards for opportunities such as this.

    We can help you to find a great partner. To do this we:

    1. Listen to you to understand the qualities you need in your Japanese partner
    2. We then research the Japan market to find the companies who meet your criteria
    3. Working with you we create a prioritise list of potential partners and then approach those on this list
    4. Once we have spoken to those companies, we then provide you with a recommendation of 2 or 3 companies that are likely to be a great partner for you
    5. Should you wish to then form a relationship with a Japanese partner, we can then handle everything in Japan for you (negotiations, legal contracts etc)

    So the first step is that we should talk so we can understand the qualities needed by your Japanese partner.

    Regards, Jon

  12. Hi john my name is Marcus drake and I work as a sports therapist in Nottingham in the UK. I am first of all looking to start maybe an online business perhaps an anatomy and physiology course. But I am also thinking of moving to japan on the next couple of years so really looking for advice on running the online business in Japan many thanks Question from Marcus Drake on 03/07/2017

    Jon says:

    G'day Marcus,

    Operating an online business from inside of Japan allows you a couple of unique avenues to generate sales.

    1. Contact and form relationships with Cram Schools (塾 Jyuku) to have them include your course in the line up of course offerings. This way, when the Cram Schools sales agents are out selling their services, they are also selling your courses

    2. Advertise on Japanese career vocational boards and also job boards. In terms of job boards, suggest you target those with a more international / bilingual target audience for while your service will be in Japanese, having and modern, international feel about it is a differentiator.

    I wish you the best of luck with your venture



  13. HI, Greetings. My name is Raj Suman. I am an INDIAN Citizen, living in India. I am in the business of EDUCATION CONSULTING. Study Abroad Consulting and all other Education Consulting. Admissions for Foriegn students in to JAPAN universities and JAPAN students to other International Universities. I would like to know details about setting up a company in JAPAN. I wish to have Country Head Office in Tokyo, with branches in Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sappora, Kobe, Kyoto and others. I would employee around 70 - 100 Employees in each branch; with a total employees strength around 1000+ in 3 Years. I would like to know what is the best suitable Business Structure / Legal Entity; Process and Legal Requirements; Capital; Fund Flow in to JAPAN; and all other Cost and Duration. Please email me the details and consider this an opportunity to work together. Regards, Raj Suman. Question from Raj Suman on 02/04/2017

    Jon says:

    G'day Raj, it sounds like a substantial business you are planning to build.

    Branch Offices do not need separate business licenses - they can simply be office locations of your Tokyo Head Office.

    Your biggest challenge will be finding and on-boarding 1,000+ qualified staff within 3 years. This is by far best done using a internationally minded, well established Recruitment Process Outsourcing company like

    The first step is straight forward - set up a limited liability company in Tokyo. This needs to be done in a way that supports getting an investor visa should you ever need one. Beyond that, there are a lot of considerations - best to talk these through. Please let me know your direct contact details via then I can get in contact and give you a more detailed reply to your questions

  14. Hello Jon My Name Is Babatunde Agboola, Iím the MD/CEO of Babstaunch Global Limited, a freight forwarding and logistics company in Nigeria, Below are our services: 1. Multimodal and NVOCC Consolidation of Cargo 2. Break-bulk of Inbound /Outbound Cargo/De-consolidation 3. Air/ Sea clearing and forwarding 4. Haulage Service. 5. Warehousing & Distribution. 6. Project Cargo 7. Air / Sea Charter services 8. Freight Ė Air and Sea 9.†Express Courier 10.†Packing & Moving 11. Acting as Import & Export Agent we are looking to expand our business to Japan we would love to work with some freight forwarders or importers in Japan whenever they have any exportation that needs customs clearing in Nigeria so we can be their partner in Nigeria and they will be our partner in their country, or if we can set up a branch in Japan but as we are a new company and a sole proprietorship I donít think we can afford the funding for now. Please what do you think we can do to accomplish that, as we really want to expand our business globally. Question from BABATUNDE AGBOOLA on 08/03/2017

    Jon says:

    G'day Babatunde,

    Your logistics business sounds comprehensive. You face perhaps the most common and one of the most difficult problems of generating business in Japan - ie Japanese companies will not see you are a viable partner/reputable company until you have a legal entity in Japan. Conversely, you do not want to commit to having a legal entity in Japan until you have sales and operations underway.

    There are some things that can be done to help Babstaunch Global Limited take its first steps in Japan. These would take hours to write out so best we speak. I can be reached on then we can set up a time to speak



  15. Dear Sir, My name is Piotr Brzeski and I`m from Poland. I would like to establish a company in Japan (Holdco). The only purpose of this company would be to hold shares in polish ltd company (with registered office in Poland and business activity in Poland.). Holdco will not perform any business activity in Japan. My question is. If one day Holdco will sell shares in polish company with a profit. Will there be obligation to pay corporate tax from such profit for Holdco in Japan? I would be gratefull for prompt respond. best regards Piotr Brzeski Question from piotr brzeski on 12/10/2016

    Jon says:

    Hi Piotr,

    A Branch Office in Japan would be the most cost effective structure for Holdco

    Capital gains from the sale of shares
    The tax rate for listed shares in Japan is 10% (7%-income tax, 3%-local tax).The tax rate for sale of other shares is generally 20%. No tax is payable until any gain is realise and losses can be off-set against profits so tax only applies to the net capital gain



You are not logged in!

Please login or register to ask our experts a question.

Login now or register.