Start-ups in Japan: What You Need to Know and Why You Should Consider Working for Them

Updated: Dec 25, 2019

Start-ups might be a recent emergence in Japan, but they’re already making a significant impact on Japan’s traditional work system. From challenging long-held beliefs such as wearing identical black suits to work, to causing a wave of investment money coming in to various industries, we’ll take a look at what start-ups are, what changes are happening, and why they might be a good work opportunity for you. #jportlibrary

When you think of start-ups, you might associate them with companies fresh out of Silicon Valley, with vibrant office designs and flexible work cultures—something that seems like the exact opposite of what work in Japan is like.

In Japan, the start-up scene is still in its infancy stage, in fact, during a March 2019 survey held by Creww, more than half the Japanese people surveyed said they weren’t aware of the existence of start-ups.

But start-ups have a lot of potential, something the government realized in recent years. In 2018, The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan started an initiative called the J-Startup Program, where they provide support to the growth of selected start-ups in Japan. And according to the Japan Startup Finance Report, in recent years, the trend in investment money coming into start-ups in Japan has also been steadily increasing.

Chart showing the start-up investment trend in Japan, based on the 2019 Japan Finance Startup Report

With the government officially expressing their desire to help start-ups and with the increasing trend in the past few years, it might be worth taking a closer look at Japan’s growing start-up industry.

What is the definition of a start-up company?

Although the range is broad, the definition of a start-up is the same all over the world. At its core, a start-up is defined as a “company in the first stage of its operations.” It starts from finding a niche or pain where they see demand for a certain product or service, and building a company that can provide that.

There are several financial stages of being a start-up company: pre-seed funding, seed funding, pre-series A, series A, series B (and onwards), and finally, pre-IPO (or Initial Public Offering), and although that seems like a lot of business jargon, they can be broken down into easy-to