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December 2014 FEW Women’s Start-Up Club Recap: Starting Your Own Business in Japan

FEW Women’s Start-Up Club Meeting – Tuesday, December 2, 2014

By Katharina von Tschurtschenthaler

Be advised: There is a lot of paperwork waiting for you if you want to start your own business. But: ”Once you know the procedure, it is quite straightforward“, says Yoko Majima, immigration lawyer and legal advisor.

She started her own legal practice in 2006 (so she knows what she is talking about). Yoko Majima was speaking at the FEW Women’s Start-up Club’s second meeting on December 2nd. She was addressing women who are already running their own business – some of them struggling with visa or taxation issues – and women who have business ideas but do not know at all where to get started.

Yoko gave an overview on different types of business: the simplest way is to work as a “sole proprietor“. It is easy to start as there is no registration required and no corporate tax to be paid. You can simply start whenever you are ready.

The advantages to set up a company on the other hand are that you get a higher credibility and a company is easier to manage when there are several partners.

However, Yoko advises future businesswomen “to start small from a sole proprietor and see how the business takes off.“

Also, depending on your visa status, you don’t always have a free choice which business model to choose. If you live in Japan with a non-working visa – for example as a „dependent“ you might face some restrictions and need to change to a working visa which includes in many cases investing money.

The big variety of questions asked (“Do I need my own office space, do I need to pay for a pension plan, what about health insurance?“) made clear that there is a lot of misunderstanding and uncertainty in this field and if one does not speak Japanese it might be necessary to engage a consultant to help with the paperwork and registration procedure.

Even though there are quite a few obstacles to master before getting started as a business woman in Japan, Yoko encourages everyone to give it a try – even if you fail: ”And even if you just stay here for a few years, what you have tried in Japan might be useful in other countries.“ Yoko herself never thought of setting her own business, “but in the end it was easier than I thought.“

For more information please visit Yoko Majima’s website: www.juridique.jp

Speaker profile:
Yoko Majima is an immigration lawyer and legal advisor who started her own business in 2006. She helps foreign nationals in Japan with setting up their business and applying for the appropriate visa status. She is perfectly trilingual (Japanese, English and French), language skills which she acquired through her work experience in Australia, France and Switzerland.

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