Consumer spending on and offline has picked up in Japan over recent months and in August 2019, retail sales soared. 26 trillion Yen economic measures have been assigned by the Japanese government to be used on possible metrological disasters, for the reconstruction of SMEs (including overseas and expansion and working business in the UK and across Europe) firmly supporting small business growth in Japan – all while investing heavily in the upcoming 2020 Olympics.

The business projections for 2020 are highly favourable considering that Japan is hosting the 2020 Olympics and has quickly become the third-largest economy in the world! Added to this, businesses in Japan have experienced a stable increase in employee compensation of about 2%, which has then been fed back into the growing economy – which is good news for UK-based and European SMEs looking to expand into Japan.

Tourism plays an important role in Japan with 40 million visitors expected in 2020. Unlike other, more complex, countries, Japan is a big market with one language and clear business protocol to follow, all of which is vital to keep in mind when expanding your business into this region – we’ve put together a few initial insights to help UK businesses looking to trade and grow in Japan.

Where can UK businesses excel in Japan?

Japan has the world’s fastest ageing population where the number of people who are aged 65 and over is set to rise by 11% by 2065. This means that there is a demand for products and services aimed at helping senior members of the public such as technology to support them with their day-to-day activities.

There is also a focus on education and hobbies for this generation so that they can keep active and social. Japan is also hosting one of the world’s biggest sporting events in the world next year – the 2020 Olympics. And, with the UK having successfully hosted numerous events over the years, this know-how and expertise are highly sought after. There is also a growing desire for luxury global brands and, according to the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, this presents a fantastic opportunity for businesses looking to target consumers.

Etiquette for doing business in Japan

For businesses looking to reach Japanese customers and grow in this market, here are some hints and tips to take into consideration:


Being polite and courteous is highly respected. Avoid pointing at people as this is considered a disrespectful action and verse yourself in how best to greet people appropriately.

Business cards

Make sure you carry business cards with you and invest in good quality ones as this is often a representation of how you conduct business. Keep business cards on the table with the Japanese side facing up until after the meeting has finished as a sign of respect


Take meetings seriously, be punctual, prepared and dress professionally. If you receive a gift, open it in private – gifts are an important part of business protocol.

Opportunities for UK SMEs

The Japanese market offers huge business opportunities for SMEs across the UK and the rest of Europe. If you’re looking to transfer money to Japan or begin trading in this market, then we would recommend you work with an FX specialist at WorldFirst to understand how you can get the best return from your WorldFirst Account.