Representative Office Overview
A Representative Office is typically set up by non-domestic companies as a preliminary step to engaging in actual business in Japan. A Representative Office may perform market research, information collection, product purchasing and advertising, however since it is not permitted to engage directly in revenue generating business activities, businesses considering to earn revenue in Japan are recommended to either incorporate a subsidiary or register a branch. Furthermore, bank accounts may not be opened nor real estate leased under the name of a Representative Office, and, therefore these activities must be either performed directly by the head office or the under the personal name of the office representative. There are no registration requirements for a Representative Office.
Representative Office Setup Procedures
Since the concept of the Representative Office does not exist under the Companies Act, there is no registration required. Therefore, in principle, a representative office may be freely established.
However, in some cases, notification is required when a Representative Office is set up depending on the lines of business of the head office. For example, under the Banking Act, when a non-domestic bank seeks to set up a Representative Office in Japan, it must provide prior notification to the Prime Minister of Japan (Banking Act Article 52).
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