Japan corporate bank accounts in 2021

Japan business banking optionsSince 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC helps multi-national Clients open multi-currency corporate bank accounts in Japan for both local and overseas companies.

Without bank signatory travel, our Asia team will project manage the multi-currency corporate bank account opening process, including preparing a quality business plan for our Client’s business.

We recommend our multi-national Clients read this web page to avoid bank surprises later!

  • Japan banking problems and solutions

    NoJapan banking problemJapan banking problem
    1.

    Banks do not welcome foreign / offshore companies which neither have economic substance nor business presence in Japan.

    2.

    Before multi-currency corporate bank account approval, most Japanese banks require the appointment of a resident director

    Banks prefer account signatory, UBO or directors to travel to Japan for a one-hour bank interview

    • Healy Consultants Group PLC will supply a Japanese nominee professional, passive resident director
    • We will negotiate with the bank for a travel exemption and zoom video call
    • Local banks trust and welcome our multi-national Clients. A quality business plan is a big help.
    • Our staff will meet our Client in Japan and accompany our Client to the bank interview.
    • If our Client must travel to Japan for corporate bank account opening, Healy Consultants Group PLC will refund our Client US$950.
    3.

    Global banks continue to tighten corporate bank account opening procedures, and their internal compliance departments complete more thorough due diligence of Clients. Consequently, our Clients should expect Japan bank account approval to take a minimum of five weeks.

    • If our Client requires a bank account at short notice, we recommend an immediate Japan solution (Asia shelf company plus already-approved international corporate bank account).
    • Alternatively, our Client can appoint a local representative (usually a shareholder holding 1% shares in the entity) to liaise with the bank directly.
    4.

    Most Japanese banks only provide service support at the bank branch during Japan business hours, in the Japanese language. This is inconvenient and challenging for multi-national Clients outside Asia.

    Healy Consultants Group PLC staff assist our multi-national Clients with bank communication, regardless of time zones.

    5.

    Most Japanese banks prefer a local resident bank signatory. Non-resident bank signatories are unusual;

    To maintain control over multi-national Clients' corporate bank accounts in japan, Healy Consultants Group PLC will i) supply a nominee professional, passive bank signatory or ii) secure a residence visa for the overseas bank signatory;

    6.

    Japanese banks e-banking platforms in what language?

    Healy Consultants Group PLC chooses international banks with multi-lingual e-banking platforms;

    7.

    Most Japanese bank branches have no English-speaking staff.

    We recommend Standard Chartered, which offers high levels of service, and banking in English

    8.

    After Japanese company incorporation, it can take up to 3 months to secure multi-currency corporate bank account approval and e-banking activation. Actual timelines depend on the actual activities of the business, when operations in Japan will begin, how famous the company is, where the headquarters are located and where funds sent from abroad will originate from. This can be a big challenge if the company needs to pay employees right after establishment.

    We supply our multi-national Clients' with a detailed comparison table; comparing and contrasting different corporate bank account solutions. including timelines, documents required.

  • The Japanese banking sector

    Healy Consultants Group PLC summary view:

    • Healy Consultants Group PLC is confident in the security and stability of Japanese banks. That said, to further minimise risk, it is wise our Clients open multiple bank accounts in multiple locations;
    • The Bank of Japan has a reputation for being a competent regulator, ensuring the stability of the banking and monetary system. The last major bank to fail in Japan was in 1997.
    • A massive US$708 billion government economic stimulus package in December 2020 should support economic recovery and prevent mass unemployment in 2021. Government support in 2020 saw i) corporate bankruptcies fall to a 31-year low ii) Japanese banks successfully managed bad debts and iii) Japan’s unemployment drop to 2.9% in November 2020, supporting consumer spending and the ability of Japanese households and businesses to repay debts.
    • That said, significant risks to the Japanese economy and banking sector remain. These include i) rising household debt of US$3.29 trillion in the third quarter of 2020 ii) worsening ability for local households to repay debts as income falls iii) record low interest rates, hurting bank earnings iv) the possibility that the government will use public funds to support Japanese banks, and raising taxes to do so v) and vi) possible fallout due to political and trade disputes between the US and China.
    • Japanese government debt stood at US$9.9 trillion in January 2021, and the debt-to-GDP ratio is an unhealthy 266%. Debt will grow further because the government lacks the stomach to raise taxes or cut public spending in volatile conditions. Japan’s sovereign credit ratings, as of January 2021, are i) AA+ (Standard & Poors) ii) AA+ (Fitch) and iii) Aaa (Moody’s).
    • Japan’s foreign exchange reserves hit a record US$1.32 trillion in July 2020, the world’s second highest after China, due to an increase in the market value of foreign bond holdings because of lower US interest rates.
  • Key information on the Japan banking sector

    • Japan is home to i) four ‘City’ banks (Mizuho Bank Ltd, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, MUFG Bank and Resona Bank) ii) 13 Trust banks iii) 64 regional banks and iv) 25 bank holding companies. Japan does not currently issue digital banking licences.
    • The six government-owned banks include i) Development Bank of Japan ii) Japan Finance Corporation and iii) Japan Bank for International Co-operation.
    • Healy Consultants Group PLC recommends, where possible, our foreign Clients open a corporate bank account in Japan with a bank with which they are already an overseas Client. For example, Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho have overseas branches, as well as branches across Japan.
    • Examples of ‘foreigner-friendly’ (i e those offering services in Japanese and English) banks in Japan include Shinsei Bank, SMBC Prestia and Japan Post Bank. Most Japanese bank branches have no English-speaking staff. Of the international banks with branches in Japan, we recommend Standard Chartered. This bank offers high levels of service, and banking in English.
    • International banks have branches in Japan including Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, HSBC, UBS AG, Barclays, Crédit Suisse, Bank of America;
    • Bank deposits of up to 10 million yen (US$96,320) are protected should a bank fail. To avoid customers panic withdrawing funds from a bank during a crisis, the government can freeze accounts and transactions.
    • The balance on a Japanese credit card must be paid off in full every month, usually by direct debit from a bank account.
    • Japanese banks offer services commonly offered elsewhere in the world. These include savings, deposits and checking accounts, online banking, currency exchange, foreign currency banking, wire transfers, ATM services, wealth management etc. Not all ATMs in Japan accept international debit and credit cards.
    • Most Japanese banks have no minimum deposit requirement, and no bank account maintenance fees. All banks offer online banking services. Phone, utility and tax bills can be conveniently paid via Internet banking.
    • Non-citizens and non- permanent residents find it difficult to secure loans or mortgages from Japanese banks.
    • Japan is moving towards being a cashless society. Because of Covid-19 and consumers’ changing habits, contactless payments will grow significantly in the next five years.
    • In January 2021, Japanese banks offer only very low yen fixed deposit interest rates of 0.001%.
    • As well as local currency accounts, Japanese banks offer corporate accounts in currencies including US$, Korean won, euros, sterling, C$, Swiss franc, HK$, A$, NZ$ and S$.
    • On average, Japanese banks take five weeks to issue corporate bank account numbers and e-banking access.
    • Securing finance for a start up in Japan is easier in 2021. The government offers SMEs unsecured zero-interest loans from regional banks and other private lenders, and offers a five-year holiday on principal repayments for companies facing funding problems.
    • Japan is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), a global initiative to clamp down on tax evasion. As a result, Japanese banks share information on bank accounts and account holders with the tax authorities where the company/individual is tax-resident.
    • Under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), since 2013 Japanese banks report information on US account holders to the US Inland Revenue Service (IRS).
    • It is important that our Clients are aware of their corporate and legal obligations in Japan and that they timely fulfil the same. Let us know if you require Healy Consultants Group PLC’s assistance to timely and efficiently complete your legal and corporate responsibilities.
  • Foreign exchange obligations in Japan

    Any overseas transfer exceeding US$ 19,170 (2 million yen) is likely to be scrutinised by the Japanese central bank. Any transfer exceeding US$ 287,600 (30 million yen) must be reported to the Finance Minister. This applies to both yen and US dollar transfers.

  • Healy Consultants Group PLC fees to help open a Japan corporate bank account

    Healy Consultants Group PLC guarantees Japan company bank account approval. Our fees for different banking services include:

    Japan banking taskOur Client travelsUS$
    Japan bank account for a foreign companyYes4,950
    Japan bank account for a Japan companyYes4,950
    Japan personal bank accountYes4,950

    Our multi-currency corporate bank account opening fees cover the following:

    • Creating a quality business plan for Japanese banks, explaining the purpose of the business and future banking transactions.
    • Securing welcome emails from multiple Japanese banks, inviting our Client to submit a multi-currency corporate bank account application.
    • Healy Consultants Group PLC’s Banking Team completing, on our Client’s behalf, the multi-currency corporate bank account application forms (in Japanese) and collating Know Your Customer (KYC) due diligence documents. Our Client’s due diligence documents need to be legalised at the Public Notary, or the Japanese embassy, in their country of residence.
    • Following successful completion of the above, the bank officer submitting a complete potential customer file to the bank Legal and Compliance Department. (Note that the bank In-house Legal and Compliance Department may revert multiple times for additional documentation and information from i) each bank signatory / director / UBOs of the companies as well as ii) our Client’s business and transactions).
    • If a bank declines to board our Client’s business, Healy Consultants Group PLC immediately informing our Client and actioning back-up banking solutions.
    • In an average of five weeks following application submission, Healy Consultants Group PLC securing multiple multi-currency corporate bank account numbers for our Client’s Japanese company.
    • Thereafter, Healy Consultants Group PLC, or the banks, couriering mail and e-banking tokens to the bank signatory, who is expected to activate the internet bank account, with Healy Consultants Group PLC’s assistance if needed.
    • After corporate bank account numbers are secured and, if required, Healy Consultants Group PLC assisting our Client to appoint more new shareholders and directors. However, the banks will usually only approve them as bank signatory after a face-to-face meeting and the review and approval of a bank signatory application.
  • Considerations when opening a bank account in Japan

    • It is possible for both locally incorporated and foreign (i e non-Japanese) companies to open a corporate bank account in Japan. However, it is increasingly difficult for foreign companies which do not have local economic substance or business presence in Japan to open a local account.
    • At the time of company incorporation, we recommend keeping the corporate structure simple by appointing our Client’s preferred individual shareholder(s) and director(s) and bank signatories. Avoid corporate entities, nominees, trusts or tax haven holding companies.
    • During the Japan corporate bank account opening process, it is common for each bank’s in-house Legal and Compliance Department to request additional due diligence documents from potential customers. These include i) regulatory licences ii) proof of business globally and in the home country including evidence of contracts, invoices and agreements with local Clients and iii) additional KYC information on our Client’s business and place of residency, including nature and volume of transactions. Our Clients should expect the bank account approval period to take up to two months.
    • Depending on our Client’s business and nationality, there is an 80% probability Japanese banks will request a bank signatory to travel for a one-hour bank interview as part of bank AML/CFT obligations. We will try our best to negotiate with the bank for a travel exemption. Unfortunately, even if our Client travels to Japan to meet the bank, there is no guarantee that the bank account will be opened.
    • If our Client must travel to Japan for corporate bank account opening, Healy Consultants Group PLC will refund our Client US$950.
    • Our Client could consider appointing their Japanese employee (preferably resides in Japan) to be a local representative, so the employee can visit and liaise with bank. In addition, most Japanese banks still prefer using bank passbooks and may require company seals for some banking transactions. Thus, a local representative who can assist to safe keep these items and support administrative work would be helpful;
    • In Japan, the bank account of a company is operated by a seal registered with the bank often called the bank seal in conjunction with the bank book. Consequently, there are no signatories on Japanese bank accounts. The bank book and the bank seal allows the holder to perform almost all operations on the bank account. Japanese banks rarely verify the identity of the person who is making a bank operation at the bank branch, provided that this person holds the bank book and the bank seal. Usually, the responsibility for the use of the bank account falls upon the resident representative of the company;
    • Do not to use the official registered seal of the company to operate the bank account. The registered seal of the company “jitsuin” is very powerful and allows to make very important changes to the company such as changing the owners of the company and should be kept in a safe place.
  • Documents required for Japan corporate bank account opening

    The bank account application and online banking application are in Japanese, and often the bank requires that the company’s point of contact can speak Japanese. Documents required to open a Japan corporate bank account include:

    • Detailed Your Customer due diligence documents from each shareholder and director and bank signatory;
    • Japanese company registration documents and corporate seal;
    • Copy of tax office notification;
    • Overseas parent company documents translated in Japanese;
    • Japanese office premises lease agreement;
    • A Japanese landline phone bill;
    • Company websites or other materials which shows your business contents;
    • Proof your company is actually engaged in business in Japan. For example, sales contracts with Japanese clients;
    • Japanese resident director documents including i) business cards and ii) Business manager residence visa permit and iii) resume and iv) id documents and v) so on;
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Frequently asked questions

Conclusion

Japan multi-currency corporate bank account opening is easy if you know how. Contact Healy Consultants Group PLC if your Firm needs assistance navigating through the different banking solutions.

Contact us

For additional information on our corporate banking services in Japan, please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi
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