Japan—International Business Hub

Japan—International Business Hub

[INTERVIEW]

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is advancing efforts to attract foreign companies and develop international business environment by using the Tokyo Area National Strategic Special Zone and the Special Zone for Asian Headquarters.


—When the National Strategic Special Zones project was launched in 2013, Tokyo was designed a zone for international business. What are some of this policy’s goals?

By building the most business-friendly environment in the world, and with a perspective that also takes the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games into consideration, the goals are to create an international business hub that attracts investment, talent, and companies from around the world as well as to generate new internationally competitive businesses through startups and innovation in drug development and other fields.

—What specific measures are under implementation in Tokyo to propel these goals?

The following measures are under implementation to make Tokyo an international business hub:

  1. Ten districts within the special zone were selected for projects to build international business centers. These include the building of a train station, subway station, and bus terminal, strengthening MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Conference/Convention, Exhibition/Event) functions, and building centers for business exchange.
  2. An exception to the Road Act concerning area management, which allows cafés and benches to be placed on roads during events, is used to advance MICE functions in the city center as well as city tourism.
  3. The Tokyo Employment Consultation Center was opened on January 30, 2015, to prevent labor disputes from arising by offering consultations with lawyers and certified social insurance and labor consultants.
  4. The Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center was opened on April 1, 2015, to allow companies to undertake business establishment procedures, such as company registration and notification to the tax office, at one single location.

The following measures are under implementation to make Tokyo a hub for health care and drug development innovation:

  1. Special measures such as exceptions to the Specified Mixed Medical Care Coverage System (speeding up the review process) and exceptions to the Medical Care Act concerning hospital bed restrictions (easing regulations on the number of hospital beds when implementing the world’s highest level of advanced health care).
  2. Improving the health care environment for foreigners in Tokyo by utilizing the exception that allows foreign doctors to practice medicine in the special zone.

We are working towards the materialization of an urban agriculture special zone that aims to revitalize local economies through preservation of farmland and promotion of agriculture in Tokyo.

Regarding the designated zones, we aim to expand the zones to areas beyond the current nine special wards (Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato, Shinjuku, Bunkyo, Koto, Shinagawa, Ota, and Shibuya).

—How is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) cooperating with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) to increase the city’s competitiveness?

It is the role of the TMG as a local government to enhance the international competitiveness of Tokyo as a city.

As the national government’s organization to promote investment to Japan, JETRO provides support for the individual advancement of foreign companies planning to invest in Japan, and also makes policy proposals for conveying information and improving the business environment. We cooperate in various ways. For instance, companies that consulted with JETRO and wish TMG support are introduced to us by JETRO, and we introduce companies supported by the TMG to JETRO services, such as rental offices.

In order to raise Tokyo’s international competitiveness, the TMG is advancing various initiatives while using systems such as the Special Zone program. For example, in addition to building a living environment that is comfortable for foreigners such as promoting the construction of high performance office buildings with backup power generators and schools and hospitals where communication in English is possible, we have established the Business Development Center Tokyo with bilingual staff who can respond to inquiries by foreign companies regarding business and daily living; opened the Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center on the same floor as the JETRO headquarters to allow companies to undertake procedures for company establishment at one stop; and we were able to relax regulations concerning residence status in Japan.

We are also promoting the introduction of more international flights to Haneda Airport and advancing urban development that introduces multi-language signage on roads and transportation facilities.

—In what ways will the TMG and JETRO help the establishment of foreign companies in Tokyo rather than in other competitive locations in Asia?

JETRO is promoting foreign investment to cities throughout Japan, including Tokyo. It is promoting the attractiveness of Japan’s business environment to foreign companies through various public relations media (including the Internet) and seminars.

Within the TMG’s efforts to strategically attract foreign companies, along with promoting the superiority of Tokyo over other Asian cities (e.g. attractive business environment with market size and growth potential of the industry, a wealth of excellent business partners, and firm protection of intellectual property rights), we are promoting advancement to Tokyo by notably providing the market analyses that are necessary to expand one’s business to Tokyo and introducing partner companies, among other services.

The TMG and JETRO are also working together to attract foreign companies by holding seminars both within Japan and abroad, which call for investment in Japan.

—The Special Zone for Asian Headquarters, which aims to attract Asian regional headquarters and R&D centers to Tokyo, was launched in 2011. How does the Tokyo Area National Strategic Special Zone project complement the Special Zone for Asian Headquarters project?

The Special Zone for Asian Headquarters and the Tokyo Area National Strategic Special Zone both aim to draw talent, information, investment and others from abroad, and the directions their initiatives take are the same.

The two Special Zone programs are based on different laws, however. The Special Zone for Asian Headquarters is positioned as a program to attract foreign companies, and the Tokyo Area National Strategic Special Zone is positioned as a program to build an international business environment. As part of the National Strategic Special Zone’s development of the international business environment, the Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center has been opened, and companies that have been attracted to the Special Zone for Asian Headquarters can use the services of the Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center, for instance.

The TMG will continue to advance initiatives to achieve its targeted figures for attracting companies to the Special Zone for Asian Headquarters by promoting the creation of an international business environment using the National Strategic Special Zone program.


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