information for global expats

Business Groups, Associations and Networking for Expats in Japan

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: March 2015

No business is an island, and networking is an essential part of Japanese business culture. There are numerous networking groups, clubs and professional associations dedicated to business and individual professions. You can find out more about them in Japanese business magazines and journals and on the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry website.

Typically, you will have to sign up to the business group to become a member and pay an annual membership fee. In return, you will gain access to the group's networking events, publications, online resources and consultation services. There is detailed information on how to become a member, along with various types of membership and the respective fees on the group’s website. Most of these groups have regional and local branches.

Among the major business groups and networks are:

  • Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) – the most important business association in Japan, works to benefit the country’s economy and people. More than 1,300 companies are members.
  • Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai) – has a membership of more than 1,300 top executives who work to boost the country’s economy.
  • Kansai Economic Federation – works to promote businesses chiefly in the Kansai (i.e. Greater Tokyo) region.
  • Tokyo Executives – a selective business association for executives in Greater Tokyo with several events a year
  • SME Support – an organisation that helps the start-up and development of small and medium enterprises
  • Venture Japan – designed to help foreign businesses start up or expand into Japan, this is well worth a look.

Some networks are specifically dedicated to women in business. These membership-based networks offer support to businesswomen in Japan and organise regular training and networking events. Some of the most prominent networks include:

In addition to this, there are numerous professional networks and associations dedicated to individual professions, such as the Computer Software Association of Japan, Japan Petrochemical Industry Association and Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies. There is an extensive list of professional, governmental and business associations in Japan on this Web Japan page.

As elsewhere in the world, online networking sites have also become very popular among professionals in Japan. These networks enable companies and individuals to create online profiles and join interest groups. They can be useful tools for self-promotion, recruitment and making new contacts in your field. The most widely used networking site among professionals in Japan is the global networking site LinkedIn. The two most important Japan-based social networking sites are Mixi and Gree.

Expat business people may also be interested in the country-specific business groups in Japan. A good starting point is to approach the respective country's Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Most Chambers run clubs both for business people from a particular country and Japanese business people who want to do business with that country. These clubs offer consultation services and organise networking events for their members. For other expat groups in Japan, see Expat Groups in Japan.




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