Doing Business In Japan

Visa Information

Generally, visitors who are not planning to engage in income-producing activities while in Japan are exempt from obtaining visas and will be issued a tanki-taizai visa (temporary visitor visa) on arrival.
Stays of up to six months are permitted for citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Switzerland and the UK. Citizens of these countries will almost always be given a 90-day temporary visitor visa upon arrival, which can usually be extended for another 90 days at immigration bureaux inside Japan (for details see opposite).
Citizens of the USA, Australia and New Zealand are granted 90-day temporary visitor visas, while stays of up to three months are permitted for citizens of Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and a number of other countries.
Japan requires that visitors to the country entering on a temporary visitor visa possess an ongoing air or sea ticket or evidence thereof. In practice, few travellers are asked to produce such documents, but to avoid surprises it pays to be on the safe side.
For additional information on visas and regulations, contact your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate, or visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan ( Here you can find out about the different types of visas available, read about working-holiday visas and find details on the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) program, which sponsors native English speakers to teach in the Japanese public school system.
Alien registration card
Anyone - and this includes tourists - who stays for more than 90 days is required to obtain an Alien Registration Card (Gaikokujin Torokushō). This card can be obtained at the municipal office of the city, town or ward in which you’re living or staying.
You must carry your Alien Registration Card at all times as the police can stop you and ask to see the card. If you don’t have the card, you may be taken back to the station and will have to wait there until someone fetches it for you.
Visa extensions
With the exception of those nationals whose countries have reciprocal visa exemptions and can stay for six months, the limit for most nationalities is 90 days or three months. To extend a temporary visitor visa beyond the standard 90 days or three months, apply at the nearest immigration office (for a list of immigration bureaux and regional offices visit You must provide two copies of an Application for Extension of Stay (available at the immigration office), a letter stating the reasons for the extension, supporting documentation and your passport. There is a processing fee of ¥4000.
Many long-term visitors to Japan get around the extension problem by briefly leaving the country, usually going to South Korea. Be warned, though, that immigration officials are wise to this practice and many ‘tourist visa returnees’ are turned back at the entry point.
Work visas
Unless you are on a cultural visa and have been granted permission to work, or hold a working-holiday visa, you are not permitted to work in Japan without a proper work visa. If you have the proper paperwork and an employee willing to sponsor you, the process is straightforward, although it can be time-consuming.
Once you find an employer in Japan who is willing to sponsor you, it is necessary to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from the nearest immigration office. The same office can then issue you your work visa, which is valid for either one or three years. The whole procedure usually takes two to three months.
Working-holiday visas
Australians, Britons, Canadians, Germans, New Zealanders and South Koreans between the ages of 18 and 25 (the age limit can be pushed up to 30 in some cases) can apply for a working-holiday visa. This visa allows a six-month stay and two six-month extensions. It is designed to enable young people to travel extensively during their stay; although employment is supposed to be part-time or temporary, in practice many people work full-time.
A working-holiday visa is much easier to obtain than a work visa and is popular with Japanese employers. Single applicants must have the equivalent of US$2000 of funds, a married couple must have US$3000, and all applicants must have an onward ticket from Japan. For details, inquire at the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate.

Business Etiquette

Understanding of Foreign WaysEtiquette in Japan
Japanese understand that it is very difficult for foreigners to work in Japan.
They will not expect you to speak or read Japanese, or be conversant with their strict cultural nuances and protocol.
Mistakes are allowed as long as genuine respect is shown at all times.
They will usually try to help you but often feel embarrassment at their own lack of understanding or English language ability.
Relationships & Communication
The Japanese prefer to do business on the basis of personal relationships.
In general, being introduced or recommended by someone who already has a good relationship with the company is extremely helpful as it allows the Japanese to know how to place you in a hierarchy relative to themselves.
One way to build and maintain relationships is with greetings / seasonal cards.
It is important to be a good correspondent as the Japanese hold this in high esteem.
Business Meeting Etiquette
Appointments are required and, whenever possible, should be made several weeks in advance.
It is best to telephone for an appointment rather than send a letter, fax or email. 
Punctuality is important. Arrive on time for meetings and expect your Japanese colleagues will do the same.
Since this is a group society, even if you think you will be meeting one person, be prepared for a group meeting.
The most senior Japanese person will be seated furthest from the door, with the rest of the people in descending rank until the most junior person is seated closest to the door.
It may take several meetings for your Japanese counterparts to become comfortable with you and be able to conduct business with you.
This initial getting to know you time is crucial to laying the foundation for a successful relationship.
You may be awarded a small amount of business as a trial to see if you meet your commitments.
If you respond quickly and with excellent service, you prove your ability and trustworthiness.
Never refuse a request, no matter how difficult or non- profitable it may appear. The Japanese are looking for a long-term relationship.
Always provide a package of literature about your company including articles and client testimonials.
Always give a small gift, as a token of your esteem, and present it to the most senior person at the end of the meeting. Your Japanese contact can advise you on where to find something appropriate.
Business Negotiation
The Japanese are non-confrontational.
They have a difficult time saying 'no', so you must be vigilant at observing their non-verbal communication.
It is best to phrase questions so that they can answer yes. For example, do you disagree with this?
Group decision-making and consensus are important.
Written contracts are required.
The Japanese often remain silent for long periods of time. Be patient and try to work out if your Japanese colleagues have understood what was said.
Japanese prefer broad agreements and mutual understanding so that when problems arise they can be handled flexibly.
Using a Japanese lawyer is seen as a gesture of goodwill. Note that Japanese lawyers are quite different from Western lawyers as they are much more functionary.
Never lose your temper or raise your voice during negotiations.
Some Japanese close their eyes when they want to listen intently.
The Japanese seldom grant concession. They expect both parties to come to the table with their best offer.
The Japanese do not see contracts as final agreements so they can be renegotiated.
Dress Etiquette
Business attire is conservative.
Men should wear dark-coloured, conservative business suits.
Women should dress conservatively.
Business Cards
Business cards are exchanged constantly and with great ceremony.
Invest in quality cards.
Always keep your business cards in pristine condition.
Treat the business card you receive as you would the person.
You may be given a business card that is only in Japanese.
It is wise to have one side of your business card translated into Japanese.
Give your business card with the Japanese side facing the recipient.
Make sure your business card includes your title, so your Japanese colleagues know your status within your organization.
Business cards are given and received with two hands and a slight bow.
Examine any business card you receive very carefully.
During a meeting, place the business cards on the table in front of you in the order people are seated.
When the meeting is over, put the business cards in a business card case or a portfolio.

General Business Hours

Department stores usually open at 10am and close at 6.30pm or 7pm daily (with one or two days off each month). Smaller shops are open similar hours but may close on Sunday. Large companies usually work from 9am to 5pm weekdays and some also operate on Saturday morning.


Banks are open 9am to 3pm weekdays.


Restaurants are usually open from 11am to 2pm and from 6pm to 11pm, with one day off per week, usually Monday or Tuesday. Some stay open all afternoon. Cafés are usually open 11am until 11pm, with one day off per week, usually Monday or Tuesday. Bars usually open around 5pm and stay open until the wee hours.