Japan: how to find a local agent/distributor

The unexpected Covid-19 pandemic has prompted many companies to review their business plans and export strategies. To cater to companies looking for new agents/distributors in Japan, we have collected some useful information.

How to find an agent/distributor in Japan

When starting the quest for an agent/distributor, it is always good to acquire some basic information on how to do business with Japan, in order to be aware of differences in doing business with Japan, compared to EU countries or Western countries, in terms of culture, tradition and business manners.

  • Information on Japan for EU companies
    EU-Japan Industrial Cooperation Centre’s site, listing all sort of practical information about doing business with Japan, cross-cultural affairs, market analysis, taxes, laws, standards etc.
  • Brief Guide for EU Companies on Importers/Wholesale Distributors in Japan

    EU-Japan Industrial Cooperation Centre’s report, covering comprehensive and practical /information on distribution networks in Japan that helps SME companies from EU to identify the most commonly used import routes for EU products/services, in the fields of agriculture, medical devices and ICT.

  • Asialink Business

    Differences between agents and distributors at a glance

The below embassies have separate entities that offer information services for their businesses that could be helpful as well:

Furthermore, RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) provides substantial information for Dutch companies seeking export opportunities to Japan in Dutch (RVO: zaken doen met Japan)

Professional services provided by external parties

It is worthwhile for Dutch companies in search of a local agent/distributor to check the websites of the below official institutions. They render professional services in English free of charge. They have a huge network of companies, and sector-specific and in-depth knowledge and expertise in connecting overseas companies with Japanese business partners.

JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization)
TTPP (JETRO's business matching site) provides information about business partners and business needs in the area of international transactions. Registration and usage are free of charge. JETRO in Amsterdam (inquiry form)

To identify importers and agents in Japan, they may want to consider contacting JETRO certified trade advisors, who have networks and insight in the related sectors. The services are fee-based. Association of International Business Advisors (AIBA)

MIPRO (Manufactured Imports and Investment Promotion Organization)
MIPRO’s trade and investment advisers provide consultation services to overseas companies in the fields of import, starting a business, and how to set up a company in Japan: Consulting services for trade & starting business

Tokyo Business Development Center
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Business Development Center Tokyo provides comprehensive services for foreign companies who are considering establishing a presence in, or expanding to Tokyo. It offers a total support package that covers all aspects from business through to lifestyle issues: https://www.senryaku.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/bdc_tokyo/english/top/

More information on how to find an agent/distributor along with lists of fee-based services provided by consultancies is available on request. Please send us email to tok-lnv@minbuza.nl.

Evert Jan Krajenbrink, Agricultural Counsellor at Fishery Award Ceremony, January 2020
Evert Jan Krajenbrink, Agricultural Counsellor at Fishery Award Ceremony, January 2020