Doing Businessin Japan

Asian Market Insights

Japan, ‘land of the rising sun’ is known for its vibrant culture, nature, food and cutting-edge technology.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has created a new set of challenges for the Japanese market.

Enterprise Ireland is responding to the global crisis by working with Irish exporters to help them avail of business response supports announced by the Government. These supports are designed to help businesses stabilise and adapt to the evolving situation, in preparation for getting back on the road to recovery.

Market Overview

Japan’s recent economic turnaround spells new opportunities for businesses across a range of sectors in a country that already has the strong fundamentals of a world-class economy. The Japanese market is a rewarding one for products and services, in part because Japanese companies and consumers are prepared to pay premiums for quality, reliability and good service.

The economic policies being pursued by the Japanese government, known as ‘Abenomics’, point to a period of change in the country, with a liberalisation of policies to stimulate growth and stoke inflation. Japan’s corporate sector, particularly its large-scale exporters, are in very good financial health.

125 Million Population (2021)

€34,100 GDP per capita (2020)

€234.3m Enterprise Ireland client exports (2020) 

Get Export Ready

Key policy shifts have opened up opportunities in sectors such as ICT, banking and renewable energy in Japan. Additionally, the lead up to the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (JEPA), strengthens opportunities for Irish companies. Japan is the third largest economy in the world. Its GDP is approximately €4 trillion – nearly twice the size of the UK and its GDP per capita is more than four times that of China. It is an established home of innovation and has expertise in a wide range of industries, particularly in technology, machinery and biomedical research.

Key Market Sectors

As Brexit plans progress, Irish businesses are exploring export options in sectors across the Eurozone markets, the USA and Canada, and the APAC region.

Enterprise Ireland is playing a key role in supporting ambitious companies seeking opportunities in Japan’s life sciences, fintech and cleantech sectors.

Additionally, renewable energy, industrial applications and ICT continue to perform and add appeal to Irish exporters and service providers who want to scale, and develop a presence in the Japanese market.

Read more on Japan’s sectoral successes in our Going Global Guide.

  • ICT is Japan’s largest industry, offering good opportunities in IoT ahead of the roll-out of 5G networks in 2020.
  • Major policy changes in Japan’s financial sector has opened opportunity for Irish fintech payment companies.
  • Japan is one of the largest healthcare and pharmaceutical markets in the world with a rapidly aging population.

Doing Business

The overall level of English proficiency in Japan is still moderate to low. You may need to hire a professional interpreter – check beforehand. Make sure all documents and collateral is professionally translated into Japanese.

Initiate arrangements for meetings at least four weeks in advance. Securing meetings at short notice can be difficult. It may also give Japanese companies the impression you are unprepared and potentially disrespectful. Punctuality is an absolute must in Japan and arrive early.

Expect many questions and follow up quickly on any requests for further information. It may not seem so important to you, but the Japanese side may be very keen on details.

Best Routes to Market

Choosing the right route to market is very important.

Agents bring a deep understanding of local business practices and distributors can deliver products geographically across large nations. Joint ventures and acquisitions bring valuable established contacts, customers and market knowledge. Local representatives may not always be necessary with many global markets open to direct sales and prospecting from Ireland. Other markets require a ‘boots on ground’ approach – the power of referrals and networking shouldn’t be underestimated.

The key routes to market in Japan are direct sales, distributors, agents, pathfinders or partnerships.

Download our Going Global Guide to Japan to find out more.

Before You Go

Before you go, we recommend you invest some time in researching the terrain before you explore the Japanese market. Here’s a few starting points to consider…

  1. Market Landscape
  2. Market Trends
  3. Target Market
  4. Market Segmentation
  5. Market Competition
  6. Market Research Resources

Visa requirements, Japanese labour laws, import rules and regulations, key taxes, and data and intellectual property protection are also addressed in the Going Global Guide. Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre offers client companies access to market intelligence in the form of company, sector, market, and country information to explore opportunities and compete in international markets.

Helping You Succeed

We are committed to helping you succeed in global markets and have an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in the Japanese market.

Enterprise Ireland assists clients entering new markets with pre-visit support, in-market support, international trade events, additional supports and access to mentors.

Click here to download our guide to Going Global in Japan.

Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

Japan – Tokyo Office
Patrick O’Riordan


Enterprise Ireland
2-10-7 Kojimachi,
Tokyo 102-0083

00 81 3 3263 0611

Download our Going Global Guide or talk to one of our Enterprise Ireland market advisers in Japan, today. Find out how you can achieve your global ambition.