Permission to sell alcohol in Japan

When selling alcoholic beverages in Japan, it is necessary to obtain a business license from the tax office. This section describes the wholesale and retail cases of imported and exported alcoholic beverages.

1.Import and Export Liquor Wholesale License
■Scope of transactions
The import and export liquor wholesale license is a license that allows you to wholesale only those imported by your company. You cannot handle products imported by other companies, both domestic and overseas. It cannot be sold directly to consumers, café bar or restaurants. For this case, another license called Liquor Retail License is required.
■Transaction consent Agreement
At the time of application, please make sure to obtain a consent form (sales contract) from your overseas sales partners/suppliers. License conditions can only be granted to trade items listed in the document.
■Basic management requirements
In terms of licensing requirements, “Person who is judged to have sufficient knowledge and ability to properly manage liquor sales business based on experience and other matters” is a key. As for the knowledge of liquor, the conditions can be met by taking the “Liquor Sales Manager Training”, but for the import and export business, it is required to have actual trade experiences.
■Requirements for sales capacity and required funds
A) Has certain stores 
B) There is agreement for exporting or importing alcoholic beverage 
C) The company has enough funds, etc., that are recognized as enough to manage the export liquor wholesale business or the imported liquor wholesale business.

2.General Liquor Retail License
■Career and management ability requirements
Applicants are persons who are judged to have enough knowledge and ability to properly manage the liquor wholesale business based on their experience.
Those who have been directly engaged in the business of liquor manufacturing or sales (excluding medicinal liquor-only sales) for more than 3 years, and have been operating seasoned food sales for over 3 years or person who has been engaged in these duties or has been more than 3 years in total.
Those who have no experience in sales and production of alcoholic beverages prior to application will be deemed to have enough knowledge, management ability and sales ability by attending “Liquor Sales Manager Training”.
■Requirements for sales capacity and required funds
Applicants have enough funds that are enough to cover to continuously sell alcoholic beverages at application sales offices, and those who have the necessary sales facilities and equipment or a person who is certain to have sales facilities and equipment by the time of starting businesses.

In addition, a mail order retailer license is required when selling online online.

For more information, please contact us.


Procedures for importing food products into Japan

There is a certain number of needs to import foreign seasonings, processed foods, various supplements, and other health supplements to Japan and sell them in the business. I would like to explain the procedures from importation to sale of food products.

For all food products imported for the purpose of sale, the importer must submit a “Notification Form for Importation of Food, etc.” in the prescribed form to the quarantine station immediately after the arrival of the cargo, together with attached documents such as “list of ingredients” and “list of manufacturing processes” as required by law. 

After examination and inspection at the quarantine station, if the importation is judged to be legitimate, the “Certificate of Notification of Importation of Food, etc.” is returned to the importer, who is then allowed to remove the goods from the bonded area.
At the Yokohama Quarantine Station, prior consultation regarding imported food, etc. is also available.
Normally, a trading company or customs broker will handle such submissions on behalf of the importer, but the importer must arrange for the documents himself.

Importing can be done by an individual, but it is better to establish a corporation and do it under the name to gain more credibility with related organizations and customers.

For more information, please contact us

How to start a business to sell Japanese Used Cars

Many inquiries to the Kawasaki One-Stop Business Startup Center about starting a new business in Japan are the export and sale of used cars. Even now, many foreigners procure used cars in Japan and sell them overseas like, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

The total number of used passenger cars sold in Japan in 2020 was 3,342,505 units, which is a slight decrease of 99.2% from the previous year but forms a stable market of around 3.3 million units every year. The number of used cars exported in October 2021 compiled by the Japan Used Car Export Industry Cooperative was 101,216 units, a decrease of 15.3% from the same month of the previous year. By destination country, Russia ranked first for the sixth straight month. The number of vehicles in the country increased by 19.9% to 15,046 units. The second-placed United Arab Emirates continued with 10,781 units, down 21.3% year-on-year. Kenya came in third, with exports down 1.3% year-on-year. Tanzania, New Zealand, and Chile are in fourth place and below.

Now, let me briefly explain the legal procedure for conducting this business.

Chapter 1 Establishing a company
First, create the articles of incorporation, which should be called the blueprint of the company. Information on the company’s business, capital, founder, and directors is described. What is stated here is the basis of the company. Next, determine the location of the head office. You can set up a company in a shared office or at home, but you need a completely private office to get a business and management visa. Our experts will advise you on the detailed conditions.
When the articles of incorporation are completed, you should ask a notary public to certify the articles of incorporation and apply for registration to Legal Affairs Bureau.

Chapter 2 Obtaining a Business / Management Visa
A business/management visa is a status of residence that allows you to do business in Japan as a business owner or manager. There are many conditions to obtain this visa, and it is well known that the capital must be 5 million yen or more. There are various conditions for the office as well. It is necessary that the office is already prepared and the company is registered so that the business can be started immediately.

The most important document for evaluation by the Immigration Bureau is the business plan. From the business plan, they will judge whether the business that the applicant is trying to do in Japan is feasible and sustainable. Yes, we can say that the most critical point for a business/management visa is how to appeal the feasibility of the business to the Immigration Bureau by your business plan.

Especially for the used car export business, there are many applications for business and management visas targeting this field, so the Immigration Bureau already has detailed information. Therefore, in most cases, the visa will not be given for a thin veneer plan. You need to seriously consider your business plan and make it as detailed as possible.
At Kawasaki Onestop, we will support the work of experts hearing the business plan and incorporating it into the plan.

Chapter 3 Obtaining a business license
To buy a used car, you must get a secondhand dealer’s permit. Regional Police are in charge because of monitoring the sale of stolen goods. Apply to the police station that has jurisdiction over the location of the office. Both individuals and corporations can register, but in doing business, many people aim to apply at a corporation in the sense of increasing the reliability of transactions.

In order to obtain the permission of the antique dealer, it is necessary to actually set up a sales office and assign a full-time sales manager. The sales manager can also be appointed as the representative director. You can open your business at home, but you will be asked to clearly separate your private space from your office space. (This is also an important point for immigration to check when obtaining a business/management visa as mentioned before.) If everything is OK, the permit will be granted in 2 weeks to 1 month.

Regarding the purchase of products, newcomers often purchase used cars from used car auction sites in Japan. There are many auction sites like USS, i-Auc, JU, etc. in Japan. Register with each auction company and open an account. At that time, depending on the auction, if you have a track record of more than one year after obtaining a secondhand dealer’s permit or if you are a corporate member, you may be required to have a bank account in the name of the corporation, so be sure to check with individual auction company in advance.

Used cars sold from the auction site can be stored in parking space that you have secured by yourself, or you can bring them to the stockyard at the shipping port and ship them directly. There are many specialized companies called “Otsunaka” that carry out a series of export procedures.

For more details, please contact




第一章 会社を設立する

第二章 経営・管理ビザを取得する


特に中古車の輸出ビジネスについては、この分野をターゲットにした経営・管理ビザの申請が多いこともあり、入管は詳しい情報を把握しています。したがって付け焼刃な計画ではビザが下りないケースがほとんどです。真剣に事業計画を検討してできるだけ詳細に作る必要があります。Kawasaki Onestopでは、専門家が事業計画をヒアリングして計画書に落とし込む作業についてサポートいたします。

第三章 事業のライセンスを取得する



Procedures Required to Purchase and Export Used Cars in Japan

We receive many inquiries about starting business to sell Japanese used cars overseas.

Since many Japanese people treat their cars as carefully as possible (for example, the bumpers of Japanese cars are often scratch-free), it seems that the price of used cars does not drop much when they are sold overseas.

To purchase and sell used cars in Japan, you must obtain a “secondhand dealer’s permit” from a regional police office. The condition is that there must be at least one sales office and one sales manager in Japan.

If you hire a Japanese person or a foreigner who is already resident in Japan, you can register that person as a sales manager.

If you are planning to come to Japan yourself and get ready to start a business, you will first have to obtain a visa (Business Manager visa).

You can start your business by:

  1. Register your company
  2. Obtain a business manager visa
  3. Acquire “secondhand dealer’s permit”
  4. Become a member of a car auction

Most of the foreign businesses use the car auction platform to purchase used car in Japan.

Kawasaki Onestop Business Startup Center can provide one-stop support for all of these steps.

For a brief information of starting a business in Japan, please see the YouTube video.

Another challenge for foreigners to start a business in Japan | Opening A Business Bank Account

For foreigners who want to start a business in Japan, there are many things that they have to do, such as finding an office, registering a company, and applying for a visa.
However, there are many specialists in Japan who can speak English, and we provide consultation and actual support. We at Onestop Kawasaki are a unique group of such specialists.

Today, let’s talk about another barrier you face when you set up a company, get a visa, get the business license you need, to start your business.

That is, “I can’t open a bank account in the name of a corporation.”
Japanese banks can easily open an account for individual account even if they are foreigners if they have a status of residence, but the hurdle is greatly raised when it comes to “corporate name”.
The reason is that in the case of a corporation, the transaction amount is also large, so “credibility” is judged more strictly. This is the same when a Japanese person starts a business individually.

On the other hand, Japan is said by the United Nations to be a country with loose restrictions on money laundering. The Financial Services Agency and other Japanese government agencies are closely monitoring the opening of bank accounts in the name of foreigners, which can be a hotbed for money laundering. Japanese used car export business is said to be the target. It seems that there have been malicious cases in the past. If you are planning a business to buy used cars in Japan and sell them overseas, you should be careful.

There are many documents required for this, and it takes time and effort to prepare financial plans and proof of assets currently owned by tax accountants and certified public accountants.
And the most confusing thing is that the criteria for opening an account have not been clarified openly.

In my experience, when I asked the bank why it was refused to open a new corporate account for a Pakistani entrepreneur, there was no further explanation saying, “I made a comprehensive decision.”
Eventually, the president gave up and decided to start the trading in his personal bank account. About a year later, the opening of a corporate account was finally approved due to the success of the individual transaction record and the appeal of the person’s enthusiastic attitude.

Talking about another case, when a foreigner started a business with the support from JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization), the person could easily open a corporate account with a support letter from JETRO. However, in order to receive JETRO support, it seems that the foreign headquarters must be of a certain size or the investment amount must be of a certain size.

When formulating a business plan, you may have to assume that there are such facts.

For more details, please contact

The walls to start a business in Japan

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is coming soon, and there are increasing inquiries from foreigners who want to start a businesses in Japan, such as expanding sales channels for products in Japan, or importing Japanese products, etc. Both the central and local governments of Japan have begun policies such as special economic zones to support such trend. However, Japan is an island nation, and for 400 years from beginning of 17th century, Japan closed its country by restricting exchanges with foreign countries. As a result, there are many differences in the business environment. For many foreigners, it could be considered as a “wall”.
I would like to introduce such differences in Japanese business culture.

Wall 1 Government

The Japanese government has been active in accepting foreigners, but officials on the ground have not yet reached that level. Many are basically conservative, as inherited from the Meiji era. To start a business in Japan, you have to obtain permission or registration from various government offices. In order to start a business, such as the Legal Affairs Bureau of company registration, the Working visa to Immigration Service, and the used car business, you must submit a lot of documents to the police station to acquire secondhand dealer license and a tax office to import and sell liquor. Permission to start a business will not hurt you for being a foreigner, but explanations may be rough or inadequate some time.

Wall 2 Language

Unfortunately, you must submit your paper or electronically to get those permits. However, most of the documents are in Japanese. The only part that is accepted in English may be the visa application. Even the guidelines for obtaining permission are all in Japanese except for some visa-related items. Without support for those who can speak Japanese, there will be a lot of struggle to get permission. In order to obtain a business license, it is often necessary to determine the person in charge and take a seminar hosted by the government office, but most of the such seminars are limited to Japanese only. In the case of foreigners who cannot speak Japanese, there is no choice but to appoint or accompany someone who can speak Japanese.

Wall 3 Banking

In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for foreign-invested companies to open corporate accounts in some industries, as Japanese financial authorities have put forward a policy to strengthen anti-money laundering measures.
Also, financing for foreigners is not very active, and financing for people other than those with permanent resident status or a Japanese spouse is not easy at present.

Wall 4 Business habits

The decision-making process of Japanese companies is very different from that of Western, Asian and other companies. It is often said that decision-making is slow, many business meetings, but no progress at all, have to exchange business cards with many people, but do not know who has the authority to decide. . . and so on.
A story about a Japanese company and a company in Zhejiang Province, China, said that the managers level agreed to launch a joint venture, and after that, the Japanese company delegates visited China many times, including the top management from Japan. In each case, the Chinese side responded in anticipation of when to give the go-ahead, but the Japanese side could not decide and ended up being neglected. Thus, negotiations with the Japanese also require patience.
They can all be described as one common character, a culture where responsibility is shared by as many people as possible. However, the Japanese have the habit of once they decide, they always do it.

To overcome these barriers, Onestop Kawasaki can support foreign entrepreneurs by using expertise of each member.