Doing Business in Japan

There are many opportunities for UK Business in Japan. We provide a wealth of information to help you do business in Japan.

This includes:

Guide to Doing Business in Japan

UKTI has produced a guide aimed at companies experienced in overseas trade who are new to doing business with Japan. The aim of the guide is to provide you with basic knowledge about Japan; an overview of its economy, business culture, potential opportunities and an introduction to other relevant issues. Novice exporters will also find it a useful starting point.

Doing Business in Japan Guide

Sector Briefings

For information on your sector in Japan including characteristics of the market, opportunities and key contacts, please check out the latest sector briefings.

Marketing Opportunities for UK Companies

  • Business resilience – Technologies and services such as power management, IT Service support, Continuity Planning and support Services (e.g. insurance), skills for global business.

  • Demographic change – E.g. healthcare products and services; products targeting an affluent older generation and single-person households; asset management.

For more information about the opportunities and the Japanese market – please email:

  • Security and defence products and services – Relaxation of restrictions on exports; potential collaboration between Japanese and UK firms.

  • Nuclear decommissioning, clear-up and safety post Fukushima – UK has considerable industry expertise in this area.

  • Consumer goods – E.g. authentic high quality fashion; design-led consumer products; UK creative products, skills and services; ‘petit’ luxury market.

  • Global sporting know-how – Japan hosts the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and is bidding for the Olympics in 2020.

  • Renewables & Low Carbon – In particular energy-saving technologies and devices.

Background to the Japanese Market

The high-tech powerhouse economy of Asia

It has the 2nd highest spend worldwide on R&D, a hunger for IP and innovation, and consumers with an appetite for new trends and technologies. As a result, British companies are succeeding here across a wide range of manufacturing, consumer goods, high tech and services sectors. Exports from the UK were worth £9.6 billion last year, split evenly between services and goods. Japan is the 3rd largest economy in the world – with GDP twice the size of the UK and GDP per person 9 times that of China.

Japan is the 3rd largest economy in the world – with GDP twice the size of the UK and GDP per person 9 times that of China.

A large economy

Despite well-known economic sluggishness over the past twenty years, the Japanese market is large: for context – the economy of Tokyo is bigger than Russia, the economy of central Japan greater than South Korea. Japan’s huge economy therefore remains a key driver of world economic growth – as witnessed by the disruption to world supply chains in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake.

A cutting edge economy

68 Fortune 500 companies are Japanese (the UK has 30). There is a hunger for IP – especially in high-end electronics, biopharmaceuticals and business services. Japan has the second highest R&D spend in the world at 3.3% of GDP. It is also a stable place to do business: commitments are upheld and things happen on time. Doing business holds fewer surprises in Japan than elsewhere in the region – with IP, in particular, well protected.

Consumers with high-levels of disposable income.

Japanese are early adopters of new products and services and are noted for have a high expectations of quality and satisfaction. There remains an eagerness for quality UK products with an authentic or creative look and feel. The amount of personal wealth is high: $12.8 trillion in net financial assets held by households (almost equivalent to the value of US GDP). There is therefore an influential consumer base of affluent older people. This rapidly ageing society (21% over 65 now) also offers particular opportunities for UK companies in healthcare, bio-pharmaceuticals and older consumer goods sectors.

Key sectors for the UK

Around 450 British companies are based in Japan. Key sectors include for UK business include:

  • Technology

  • Creative & Lifestyle

  • Fashion & Retail

  • Consultancy & Services

  • Life Sciences & Chemicals

  • Manufacturing & Industrial

  • Nuclear

  • Defence & Security

  • Long Term Strategic Opportunities

For more information about sector opportunities and the Japanese market – please email: or contact a member of our Team.

Countries: Japan
Topics: Getting Started
Export Action Plan