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Can foreign business owners apply for subsidies in Japan?

(*Edited: Details of the submission deadline is added.)

The short answer is yes, as one of the subsidy admin offices answered our inquiry. However, their reply more or less symbolises a kind of reality in Japan.

They said, ‘yes, foreigners, of course, can apply as long as they meet the required conditions as applicants for the subsidy. As far as we understand, most of the applicants speak Japanese fluently.’ In other words, you won't have access to subsidies without Japanese proficiency, some may say. However, opportunities should not be limited because of a language barrier.

So, we’ve started to assist those who run small businesses and are interested in subsidies but whose mother tongue is not Japanese. Our assistance is provided in bilingual (English/Japanese): when interviewing in English/Japanese, and when drafting and preparing the required documents in Japanese.

This time, the targeted subsidy is ‘Shokibo Jigyosha Jizokuka Hojyokin’ (Subsidy for Sustaining Small Business*, or 小規模事業者持続化補助金). Here is the outline of the subsidy. *Since there is no particular translation, we’ve translated as such, taking into account the original Japanese.

Nature of the subsidy

This subsidy supports efforts by small businesses, i.e. SMEs and sole proprietors, to develop sales channels and improve productivity after reviewing their own management and creating a management plan for sustainable management.

Subsidised amount

From ¥500.000 to ¥2,000,000 maximum with a subsidy rate of 2/3 of the designated costs, depending on the category.

□ Application deadline: 2 December 2022

The final deadline is a week later, on 9 December. However, you have to request a local chamber of commerce to issue an approval document by a week before the deadline. It means you'll complete the paperwork by 2 December.

□ How to apply

You’ll need to submit around fifteen documents, such as business plans, a balance sheet, and tax certificates etc. The most important document is a business plan, of course, to convince the jury (the government) that your business is concrete enough to receive a subsidy which consists of taxpayers’ money.

□ Important points to know and please make sure before applying

  • Need to have enough cash because of the nature of the system. When selected, you’ll first cover the cost and then get subsidised by reimbursement.

  • Not all of the cost is covered. Maximum with a subsidy rate of 2/3 of the designated costs

  • Need to meet the requirement. (It varies, and we’ll update in the coming posts)

Our assistance includes:

  • Drafting a business plan (in Japanese) by interviewing business owners (in English/Japanese)

  • Helping with other paperwork

■ Why us?

The writer is an experienced Japanese writer/editor who has assisted subsidy applicants, including business owners and scientists applying for grants, with successful results.

For those interested, we’ll organise online sessions (in English) free of charge. During the session, we'll talk about the overview and the requirements of the subsidy and explain how our assistance works while answering your questions.

The scheduled sessions are as follows, and you can sign up from the following links. The deadline is six hours prior to the events.

  • Wednesday, 19 Oct. at 6 PM (JST) Closed

  • Thursday, 20 Oct. at 3 PM (JST) Closed

  • Sunday, 23 Oct at 1:30 PM (JST) Closed

  • (more slots to follow upon request)

Questions? Feel free to contact us.

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