If you are an international company that is considering entering the Japanese market and are contemplating a business alliance with a promising company, FBP will support the establishment of your business in Japan.
As you know, Japan is the world’s third-largest economy after the United States and China. The Japanese economy has finally made it out of a long deflationary period and is beginning to redraw its growth trajectory toward a GDP of 600 trillion yen. In addition, as shown by OECD International Direct Investment statistics, Japan is one of the most profitable markets in the world. In recent years, the corporate tax rate has been reduced to the 20% level as in other developed countries, and because it is politically and socially stable, the country risk factor is low. All these facts indicate that the investment value of Japan is increasing not only for the Japanese market but also as a hub for East Asian countries.
Furthermore, with Japanese society aging more rapidly than anywhere else in the world, Japanese SMEs, including small but unique and excellent companies, are facing an unprecedented business succession crisis, for which the Japanese government has devised countermeasures. In order to overcome this crisis, the owners and managing directors of such companies are now exploring ways to survive and pass on their excellence. As a practical solution, they have begun to look more widely for opportunities—not only at home but also abroad—and to draw up their growth strategies with an eye on international alliances, including M & A options.
Due to these changes in the business environment as well as the mindset of Japanese companies and management, now is a great time for international companies who are considering entering the Japanesemarket and forming alliances with Japanese companies.
Despite the size and impact of the Japanese market, many foreign companies often point out the difficulties in entering the Japanese market, such as:
- Japanese language, despite having 120 million speakers, its usage is limited almost entirely to Japan.
- The language forms a unique cultural context in social life and business customs compared to Western and other East Asian cultures.
- It is a market in which traditional, complicated distribution forms still remain in some industries.
- A traditional, conservative mindset prevails in SMEs that have been limited to domestic transactions for many years, and the enhanced emphasis on a context-rich communication style is often said by foreign people to be one in which it is difficult to get a clear yes or no.
However, don’t you think it‘s a waste of an opportunity to let these reasons make you shy away from this fascinating market?
Focus Business Produce (FBP) is a company that provides growth-strategy consulting for SMEs in Japan. In that field of expertise, FBP has a wide network of companies that have outstandingly advanced technology, traditional Japanese crafts technology, unique positions in the market, or that specialize in the distribution of overseas products nationwide.
Furthermore, since the beginning, FBP’s Japanese consultants (each having more than 30 years of global business experience) have also been focusing on services to build business relationships, especially between overseas companies and Japanese companies. Among past projects, there are a few in which FBP itself engaged as a key player—not just as an outside consultant—to establish clients’ businesses in Japan. This is a unique point about FBP that ordinary consulting firms are not able to match. The strength of this approach is that FBP knows how businesses actually proceed in the Japanese market, which enables FBP’s clients to take a more practical approach when entering it.
YOUR JAPAN TEAM MEMBERS
Founder and President
More than 30 years’ experience in international business. Worked for one of Japan’s largest oil company, Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd., for 18 years. Stationed in Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore and the United States, where he engaged in the international business development and management of Idemitsu Kosan’s U.S. subsidiary and a joint venture in Singapore.
Founded Focus Business Produce, Inc., in 2004, and has since participated in more than 100 projects both internationally and domestically. Also founded FBP Corporation for outsourcing services, which are derived from those projects, in 2019.
Appointed as a Technical Committee member since 2011 and as a Technical Management Advisor since 2010 for NEDO. NEDO—the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization—is one of the largest public research and development management organizations in Japan.an important role in Japan’s economic and industrial policies, having the two basic missions of: addressing energy and global environmental problems; and enhancing industrial technology.
Graduated from Osaka University of Foreign Studies and holds a certificate in the Program on U.S.–Japan Relations, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University (1999-2000) and a diploma certificate in business administration from Henley Management College, United Kingdom. Also received a Certified Public Accountant certificate in Illinois, USA.
From 1979 to 2017, he worked for Japan’s leading water system company, Water Agency Inc. Engaged in various major projects including operation management, maintenance, and education at the seawater desalination plant in Bahrain; leading a division as general manager, as well as design and development production, and quality control of water purification systems, apparatus, ozone water generators, etc., in Japan and overseas.
After leaving Water Agency in 2017, he became an independent consultant to help solve various technical challenges facing technology-oriented companies. He also joined in FBP in the same year.
As a certified expert in industrial standards development under the Japanese Standards Association (JSA), he also contributes to the development, enactment and revision of Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS); building of and consultation regarding the proper operation of ISO9001 quality control management systems; consultation of processes to abide by the Food Sanitation Act and Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) in Japan.
Master of Chemical Engineering, Graduate School of Kansai University (Osaka, Japan). Director and vice chair of the Japan Water Purification Association (2004–2019). Director of the Japan Society for the Medical & Hygienic Use of Ozone (2014–2017)
PROJECT CASE STUDIES
A global leader of POU water dispenser manufacturer/distributor
Japan is the second-largest home & office water purifier market, after the United States, in the world. Even although the tap water quality in Japan is very high, many people are so sensitive to hygiene when it comes to drinking water that the bottled water and water purification markets—including simple filter cartridges that attach to a faucet—have become crowded with many domestic brands.
Market entry looked difficult in the mid-2000s, and this view was reinforced by several industry experts in Japan. However, our client did not give up since their new and unique technology—which was later awarded by an internationally renowned industry organization—was almost on its way by the early 2010s.
In addition, the client had confidence that Japan’s market would soon follow the world trend, which was that American and European markets had gradually seen a rise in point-of-use (POU) water dispensers versus bottled water. The major reason for this was (and it is even stronger now) growing awareness of environmental issues, such as micro-plastic pollution, global warming caused by CO2 emissions, and fossil fuel versus clean energy.
In March 2011, a major earthquake hit the northeastern part of Japan. This disaster delayed the above-mentioned world trend from prevailing in Japan for several years, until finally in 2018, the POU water dispenser market started to pick up.
All through the period from the mid-2000s, FBP has worked with the client—initially conducting market surveys, partner searches and negotiations, strategy development and enforcement—and in 2013, the client finally entered into an exclusive distributorship agreement with a major trading company. Since then, FBP’s service provision has entered the second phase, which is participating in a business infrastructure setup and offering operational support in the areas of technical matters, B2B business development and B2C marketing; as well as helping to start the “Japan Made” product launch.
Educational Non-Profit Organization
A global leader in education and test assessments wanted to explore opportunities for English language learning on a new media platform in Japan. Japan’s foreign language education market, in which English dominates, has been steadily growing and reached more than 880 billion JP yen or 8 billion USD in 2017
First, FBP researched the market and listed potential companies that had technical capability in software design and development on the platform, as well as market presence and a high reputation in educational content making. Then, FBP approached all potential partners and interviewed them, whittling the initial number down to a few serious candidates, and created a strategy that was presented to executive management.
After the strategy was approved, FBP worked side by side with the client and helped it sign a contract with the finalist and then implement the strategy. FBP also helped its partner to develop content in Japanese and launch the first product.
The time frame from first contact with FBP through to content development and on to the launch took only a year. FBP’s contract scope was successfully over that time, and FBP handed over the rest of activities to the client’s Japanese counterpart government sector organization for further development.
Floral producer in Southeast Asia
Japan is one of the largest chrysanthemum importers in the world. The chrysanthemum, which is the crest of the Imperial Household of Japan, is used traditionally in many occasions in Japanese daily life. An issue now is the aging population of domestic chrysanthemum producers and production has been falling year by year, in fact production is said to have dropped by around 3 billion during the past decade.
The supply chain of imported chrysanthemums usually goes through intermediary companies, Japanese trading companies specializing in cut flowers, to flower auction houses. A major floral producer in Singapore & Malaysia had been exporting in this way to Japan for years. However, it was frustrated that market information was not reaching it in a straightforward manner due to lessening communication with intermediaries. It wanted to improve its quality and service, and to learn what types of chrysanthemums match Japanese peoples’ taste more in detail in order to increase its export volume.
The producer approached FBP and asked it whether there were any ways to solve the concern above. Now the best way would have been for major auction houses in Japan to import directly from overseas producers. However, this was not a viable option since those auction companies did not import products themselves at that time. The client and FBP discussed and agreed to try a Japan branch office scheme. FBP opened a Japan branch for the client and even undertook branch operation.
This went beyond the services usually offered by a consulting firm; however, FBP members were excited about this experiment since the project meant opening up what had been an outdated, overly conservative logistic structure. Immediately opening the branch, FBP gathered a team of logistics, floral marketing and technical experts, and started operation.
The project gradually became known to the market, as well as to other international floral producers, including Indian, Kenyan and Ethiopian rose producers. This new way of approaching a tie-up with a leading Japanese logistics company even attracted a major TV news program and was introduced as the “New era of logistics and transportation — Import of Indian Roses.”
After several years of experimental operation, one of the leading auction houses, with which FBP worked closely, decided eventually to change its policy to directly import from the producers in order to expand its opportunities in the world. The project’s aim was successfully fulfilled, and the operation was handed over to the auction company.
For international companies aiming to enter the Japanese market, looking for alliances with Japanese companies, etc., the fees and remuneration of FBP’s consulting services will vary depending on the project content, scope of consulting, period, and method of participation in the project. Please contact us for details.
FBP-Focus Business Produce
Level 27, Tokyo Sankei Building
1-7-2 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo