Challenges Faced by Foreigners Starting a Business in Japan: Opening a Bank Account

【Koshida Accounting Firm Column Date:

“Everyday is a bank account, and time is our currency. No one is rich, no one is poor, we’ve got 24 hours each.”― Christopher Rice



Hi, my name is Taisei Koshida, and I am a certified public accountant and tax accountant.


I aim to assist non-Japanese business owners who struggle with reading or writing in Japanese. If you find the Japanese tax return system challenging, I can help you with your tax filings.


This blog may help if you are unclear about opening a bank account in Japan.


The Difficulty for Foreigners in Opening a Bank Account in Japan

It is commonly acknowledged that both individuals and corporations from abroad find it challenging to open a bank account in Japan. One primary reason is that banks’ decision-making criteria are not transparent to outsiders. Banks scrutinize whether the accounts created by foreigners might be exploited for illicit activities. Nonetheless, even when an account is not established, the reasons remain undisclosed. Consequently, without understanding the cause of the refusal, it becomes tough to preemptively address issues, making the process of opening an account difficult.


How Long Does It Take to Open a Bank Account

It is said that it takes around a year to make a bank account for companies, while it takes a few months to do so for an individual.


Banks Where Opening an Account is Relatively Easy

(1) Online Banks

Online banks are said to be relatively easy for account creation. Furthermore, the language barrier is somewhat lowered for foreigners not fluent in Japanese, due to the possibility of applying via the internet.


(2) Banks Focused on Supporting Foreign Entrepreneurs

In the Kansai region, Ikeda Senshu Bank and Tokyo Star Bank, known for their strong support for foreign entrepreneurs, are said to be relatively easy when it comes to account creation.


What to Do When You Need a Bank Account

Initially, approaching several banks is one method. If that does not work, for instance, when an individual account for capital remittance is needed during the establishment of a corporation, it can be effective to find a cooperative individual in Japan to become a founder or temporarily serve as a director.


What Is the Most Important Thing Related to Opening a Bank Account in Japan

Under the assumption that you can not open any bank accounts by yourself initially, the most important thing is to proceed with your business with help from Japanese supporters and using another tool like Wise, an international remittance system. Plus, it is also important to prepare your business in Japan earlier to avoid rushing, as it will take a lot of time.


Our accounting and tax office has been actively assisting foreign business owners in Japan with accounting and tax matters. Also, not only in the tax and accounting field, our office can support your business in Japan in the fields of visa, registration, social insurance, and law by networking with specialists. Plus, we have networked with specialists in web marketing, building websites, and business consulting suitable for Japanese customers. All services are provided in English. Please feel free to reach out to us through the inquiry form.