Resident Status Required to Start up a Business in Japan

You need a “business management visa” to start up a business in Japan. A typical case is when a foreigner comes to Japan, establishes a company by themself and becomes the CEO.

Two types of the business management visa

There are two types of business management visa. One is (A) the Regular business management visa. The other is  (B) the 6 months business management visa (Tokyo start-up visa), which is an exception for business management status using the program by the Tokyo government.   Under (A) the regular business management visa procedures,  the applicant needs to fulfill conditions at the time of entering Japan, such as having a company with a capital of 5 million yen or more and having an office.   On the other side, under the (B) Tokyo government program (Tokyo start-up visa, 6-month management visa), the visa will be granted for six months with easier requirements.  
(A)Regular business management visa (B) Start-up visa
Requirements regarding the company and its office Required to set up a company and obtain an office before applying for a business management visa. After obtaining a six-month visa (Tokyo start-up visa), Applicants will set up a company and get an office.
Someone in Japan who help your business start-up Necessary Not necessary

Regular business management visa

Difficulties with bank accounts

When establishing a company, the foreign national must transfer their money of at least 5 million yen to their own  Japanese bank account. However, if the foreign national has been in Japan for less than three months, the Japanese bank will not usually provide a bank account for them.   If you cannot open a bank account, you can not establish a company, and you will not be able to obtain the regular business management visa. Then how to treat this problem, generally? You would look for a business partner or family member living in Japan who has a bank account in Japan and ask them to be a co-founder. You can make the capital contribution into that co-founder’s bank account.  The transfer will be regarded as a capital investment.   In the regular business management visa procedures, it isn’t easy to establish a company unless they have a relative or business partner who has a bank account in Japan.

Difficulty in securing office

In the regular business management visa procedure, the foreign national needs to secure an office in Japan and starts paying the rent before applying for a regular business management visa. Although the applicant will not conduct business until the visa is approved, they will still have to pay the monthly rent. Further, if the visa is not approved finally, they will have paid the rent in vain, hurting financially and emotionally. To solve this difficulty, the Tokyo government established a six-month business management visa. (Tokyo start-up visa). Please see this post for more detail about the six-month business management visa.