Important precondition for making success in Japan
Neither English speaking accountants nor foreign resident consultants will help.

The key to success is to find the right Japanese person who has specific knowledge in your business field.  E.J.Spence does this for you.

The English-speaking accountant

The basic functions and responsibilities of an accountant are to perform accounting, budget analysis and reviews.   Most English-speaking accountants in Japan are certainly capable of carrying out these tasks and may even help with the registration of a company or a branch office as a legal entity and with the opening of a bank account.

However, no matter how much they claim that they can help your business to penetrate the Japanese market, their professional knowledge and experiences remain limited to `accounting`.   They have no real knowledge of your specific business field and needs.

These English-speaking Japanese accountants can certainly provide advice, but this tends to remain quite general and basic. This is definitely not enough to ensure the successful entrance and expansion of your business into the Japanese market.

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Foreign resident consultants in Japan

There are some foreigners who have resided in Japan long enough to have acquired Japanese conversational skills.

However, in most cases, their Japanese abilities remain limited to `speaking and listening` rather than `reading and writing`.

In fact, the Japanese language is fundamentally different from languages spoken in the Western world and it is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn. One of the biggest difficulties with Japanese, is its complex writing system which is comprised of 3 different groups of characters: `Hiragana`, `Katakana` and `Kanji`.

`Hiragana` consists of 45 characters and `Katakana` has 51.

The problem is "Kanji" for the foreign residents who have not studied Japanese for many years at school.   "Kanji" is comprised of 50,000 characters, that can hardly be mastered by the foreigners during their residency in Japan.   Japanese students learn about 2,000 kanji before the end of junior high school and continue to learn more until the end of their school careers.

In addition, to complicate matters further, Japanese has an extensive grammatical system to express politeness and formality.

The `Yomiuri Shinbun`, a Japanese newspaper published by Japan`s largest media conglomerate, carried out a survey among 1,000 foreign residents to understand their competence of the Japanese language.

The survey reported the following:

I can read this questionnaire that includes "Kanji" without reading aid: 12.2%
I can read Hiragana or Katakana: 39.2%
I can write as well as native Japanese: 1.3%
I can write long sentences using Kanji: 7.5%
I can write short sentences using Kanji: 28.2%
I can understand daily conversation: 40.1%
I can understand the news on television and radio: 17.6%
I can have an everyday conversation: 42.9%
I can participate in meetings at work or school: 20.7%

The survey revealed that almost half of the interviewees were capable of listening and speaking but only a small part of them were able to read and write Japanese.

Actually, 90 Chinese, who are basically familiar with "Kanji", the adopted logographic Chinese characters, are included in those 1,000 who have been surveyed (9%), and this indicates very few Western country residents are capable of reading and writing.   (Reading; 12.2% - 9% = 3.2%, Writing; 1.3% - 9% = -7.7%, 7.5% - 9% = -1.5%)

When we consider that all the formal business documents and contracts that circulate in Japan are laden with `Kanji’, it is clearly understood that weaknesses in reading and writing capabilities considerably limit the performance of a foreign resident consultant.



The key to success is to find the right Japanese national
with practical career in your business field.
E.J.Spence finds them for you.