‘Huge potential’ for Irish companies in Japan

Japan is gateway to Asia and beyond, external trade body tells Irish companies

An OpenHydro tidal energy turbine during the manufacturing process. The company’s chief commercial officer said he sees  Japan as a gateway to Southeast Asia.

An OpenHydro tidal energy turbine during the manufacturing process. The company’s chief commercial officer said he sees Japan as a gateway to Southeast Asia.

 

There is “huge potential” in Japan for Irish companies involved in financial technology, or fintech, in addition to other sectors, a conference heard on Thursday.

Speaking at the “invest Japan” seminar in Dublin, Koji Yonetani, the executive vice-president of Jetro, the Japan External Trade Organisation, said “Japan can be a gateway to Asia and beyond for Irish companies”.

Mr Yonetani added that Japan’s corporate tax rate is set to drop next year while a Japan and European Union trade agreement is entering its final stage. Those factors, he said, make Japan an attractive investment location. However, he noted that “Japanese consumers are very demanding”, but that “conquering the Japanese market enables business to obtain a global standard”.

Speaking on his experience in the Japanese market, Joe Redmond, group executive of fintech solutions business Fexco, said it is an absolute prerequisite that firms bring something new or different when trying to do business in Japan.

“The hard sell doesn’t work in Japan . . . [you] must play the long game”, he told the conference.

Exports

According to Enterprise Ireland figures, Ireland exported about €2.9 billion worth of manufactured goods to Japan in 2016, as well as €2.66 billion in international services.

Japan is increasing its reliance on foreign direct investment (FDI), the conference heard. In 2016, the country saw a record high of 27.8 trillion yen (€224.8 billion) of FDI. However, that represented only 5.2 per cent of GDP.

“We see Japan as a gateway to Southeast Asia” said Brendan Corr, chief commercial officer at tidal energy company OpenHydro.

“Culturally we’d probably prefer to run a business out of Japan . . . they have the skills, they have the capabilities, I think they can certainly deliver the quality from an industrial perspective,” he added.

Concluding his speech on the benefits of Japan, Mr Yonetani said the country is a great place to live. “You pay less for a Starbucks in Japan than in Dublin, Brussels and Paris,” he said.