Why businesses with global aspirations are looking to Japan

Travel to Japan has undoubtedly reached zeitgeist status: A record 24 million people traveled to Japan in 2016, the highest number of international tourists in recorded history. By 2030, that number is expected to climb to 60 million, with tourists spending an estimated ¥15 trillion when paying a visit to the country.

With a population of more than 126 million and the second largest market in the G7, the country is also becoming a key destination for growth-minded multinational corporations. In recent years, Japan has welcomed an influx of both startups and established corporations seeking to tap into a wealth of business opportunities—at the end of 2015, foreign direct investment in Japan hit a record high of ¥24 trillion ($210 billion) and by 2020, the Japanese government hopes to raise this number to ¥35 trillion.

Startups are hoping to reap some of the FDI benefits. DocuSign, for example, a Silicon Valley-based e-signatures company, similarly expanded into the country in 2015. “With roughly the third largest economy in the world, Japan is a critical part of the DocuSign Global Trust Network,” explains Brad Brooks, the company’s chief marketing, product, and engineering officer.

Established businesses, publicly traded companies, and large corporations, are also finding incentives to increase focus on Japan. TransPerfect, a language services and content management company founded more than 20 years ago, recently entered the Japanese market through an in-country merger partner.

“With Japan’s recent favorable economic climate, it is more important than ever for US companies wishing to maintain a truly global footprint to invest in Japan,” says Phil Shawe, TransPerfect’s founder and co-CEO.

Part of the country’s rise to foreign investment prominence is a result of its revamped economic policies implemented by the Abe administration, all of which are to help achieve Abe’s goal of making Japan “the most business-friendly country in the world.” Measures designed to boost Japan’s appeal to overseas businesses include lowering the corporate tax rate by more than 7%, loosening visa requirements for skilled professionals, and establishing the Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center. With these and other measures introduced by the Abe administration, Japan’s foreign direct investment environment continues to evolve and become even more diversified, flexible, and open.

Japan is also proving the value of spreading its own unique corporate culture values. For example, the country is world-renowned for its artisan-level manufacturing technology: The term monozukuri, explained as “the art, science, and craft of making things,” has long been a tenet of Japanese culture. This attention to detail is a clear boon for companies prioritizing quality control.

Culturally, economically, and geographically, Japan’s appeal is broad and obvious: As Shawe sums up, “I personally believe such business investments by the US and other global companies made in the Japanese market today will pay handsome dividends for multinationals with a long-term, global perspective.” The world’s largest businesses would be smart to follow the lead of 24 million tourists and see the potential of Japan for themselves.

This article was produced on behalf of the Government of Japan by Quartz Creative and not by the Quartz editorial staff.

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