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Discover the ethos, soul and character of the business scene in Tokyo.

Explore a dynamic, determined and disruptive business landscape that has real global impact. Leverage Tokyo's exceptional pool of talent, efficient infrastructure and ahead-of-the-curve ideas and make it work for you. Through our main interviewee, expatriate Jonathan Hewitt, embark on a journey through Tokyo to understand the innovative and unmatched professional philosophy of the city.

Tokyo: The city you want to be in

Nothing explains contrasts better than Tokyo—home to traditional sensibilities and modern thinking, hi-tech gizmos and hand-drawn Manga, swanky malls and hole-in-the-wall noodle shops, humble shrines and plush skyscrapers, it's the confluence of these contrasts that attracts expats.

The organized chaos dominating life here can be overwhelming. But when it comes to business, a sound set of government initiatives woos international entrepreneurs looking to set up shop. Success stories of foreign companies in Tokyo are based on unparalleled logistics and robust infrastructure. Not surprising then, that foreign brands thrive. In fact, Tokyo's Special Zone for Asian Headquarters project ambitiously aims to host 400 foreign companies, including 40 R&D centers by 2020!


Gearing up
for the future

Tokyo's SMEs hold enormous potential for the future. Supporting SMEs in their entry into anticipated growth areas such as robotics and medical technology is a strategic move on the part of the government. Also enabling this in large part are the network groups that provide significant support.

"There are many to choose from, including the corporate organizations like The American Chamber of Commerce (ACCJ) to online groups, such as InterNations. The larger organizations, when entering the market, tend to focus on recruiting experienced personnel, which can be a significant cost. So when resources are limited, such networks can be a very useful introduction to business in Japan." - Hewitt

R&D, robotics, biotech, and marine and earth sciences cluster have been set up in Kanagawa, a prefecture just south of Tokyo, to facilitate increased interaction between the academic, research and private sectors. Tokyo is gearing up to lead from the front.

Did you know?

Exquisite and revered Japanese food popular amongst foreigners—sushi, tempura and soba—were considered "fast food" in the Edo period.

What’s an interesting way to
enter or expand in Japanese
biotech markets?

One preferred method to enter or expand in Japanese biotech and health science markets is for non-Japanese health care or pharma companies to partner with domestic firms. Since the government sped up approvals for drugs and medical equipment, such licensing deals and partnerships are flourishing.

What makes Tokyo such
a unique city to live in?

Tokyo sets itself apart from all other cosmopolitan cities because it embraces tradition as much as it does modernity. Living in Tokyo allows one to experience the height of Japanese heritage and tradition while enjoying the wonders of Japanese efficiency and advancement. A good example is The Bank of Japan building, built in 1896, the Neo-baroque building was designed by Meiji period architect Tatsuno Kingo. An easy first step is to explore Japanese heritage buildings nestled amongst Tokyo's modern high-rise wonders.


A ‘Working’ Knowledge of Tokyo

The government has made efforts to rethink Japan's workaholic tradition, where many workers are routinely expected to spend long hours in the office and have little time for themselves. Tokyo has been enthusiastically promoting "Work style reform."

Did you know?

The best way to understand Tokyo is to think of it as several cities connected by a great public transport system. Each urban node like Shinjuku or Shibuya is like its own city. And if you jump on the subway or train, you can be in a completely different "city" in a few minutes.

Actively nurturing

One of the initiatives Tokyo has been trying out is 'Jisa Biz' (literally translated—"time difference business") which encourages workers to vary commute hours, avoiding peak periods, to ease overcrowding on trains.

The megapolis is also keen to create options and alternatives for women in the workforce and some of the measures include introducing better childcare facilities at work, focusing on vocational jobs, enhancing diversity on shop floors and in boardrooms among others. At another level, the availability of pre-cooked meal kits has been a godsend for working women—making lives easier on the domestic and professional fronts.

How safe is Tokyo at night?

Tokyo is an overall safe city. It ranks highly on several 'safe cities' lists.

What do these signs mean?

This is a 'Maternity Mark', and was officially announced by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in March, 2006, in an effort to help create a friendly environment for pregnant women.

This is a 'Help Mark' and was created to indicate the presence of people with invisible disabilities to the general public. It signals Tokyo's awareness of diversity amongst people and their conscientious approach to each other's well-being.


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