International entrepreneurs holding visa always have chicken and the egg problem when they start a business, find an office, or transition the visa.
The legal system in Japan assigns these administrative tasks to different “national certified” consultants. For instance,
- Immigration : “certified” Administrative Scrivener / 申請取次行政書士
- Office : “registered” Real-estate Broker / 宅地建物取引士（宅建士）
- Tax : Tax Accountant / 税理士
- Company Registration : Judicial Scrivener / 司法書士
- Stock options / investment : Lawyer / 弁護士
- Social Insurance : Social Security Attorney / 社会保険労務士（社労士）
Many first-timers go straight to Lawyers to ask how to incorporate a company and which visa to obtain, but the fee for incorporation process is often around 1 million JPY at big law firms and not many lawyers know the complexity of immigration process.
Immigration procedures, as all of you know, are time consuming process with bunch of paperworks — and this kind of paperworks fall under the scope of work for Administrative Scrivener.
What Administrative Scriveners do?
Administrative Scriveners take care of administrative paperworks relating immigration, business licenses (in Japanese called Kyo-nin-ka / 許認可), notarized documents including :
- Articles of Incorporation / 定款 (all company owners need this!)
- A Last Will and Testament / 遺産分割協議書
- Construction permit / 建設業許可
- Restaurant Business permit / 飲食店営業許可
- ….. and much more.
For example, if you want to do an alcohol-related business, you will need different kinds of licenses depending on producing / selling / importing / exporting / offering alcohol.
I heard kyabakura, hostes or host businesses are something very unique in Japan (basically girls/boys bars). These businesses must have a license (風俗営業許可) for hiring staff. If they operate it without the license, they will be jailed for up to 2 years or fined up to two million yen. If these stores serve food or beverage, they additionally need restaurant business permit or liquor license.
The paperworks to get these licenses fall under the field of Administrative Scriveners.
Since the scope of work for Administrative Scriveners is getting wider and wider and there are 100–200 kinds of works that they are assigned to do with the license, each administrative scrivener has different expertise. Therefore, a request of “please introduce me Administrative Scriveners” must be sent along with the following information.
- what kind of license your business potentially needs to have
- if you want to get a visa, which residential status you are looking for
What Judicial Scriveners do?
Company Registration at Legal Affairs Bureau falls under the scope of work for Judicial Scriveners — NOT Administrative Scriveners. The easy way to distinguish the scope of works between Administrative Scriveners and Judicial Scriveners is whether the process requires them to go to Legal Affairs Bureau.
For example, if we are launching KK or GK and registering the entity at Legal Affairs Bureau, we should outsource it to Judicial Scriveners. If Administrative Scriveners said they finished the incorporation processes for you, usually they were either holding Judicial Scriveners’ license as well, or outsourced the registration part to a different Judicial Scrivener.
That being said, if your main goal is registering a company, it will be cheaper to outsource directly to Judicial Scriveners, and it is also OK to register the company by yourself using templates available on Legal Affair Bureau’s website.
In addition to the registration works, Judicial Scriveners take care of small criminal cases up to 1.4 million JPY.
Aside from these different kinds of works assigned to different “national license” holders, many international entrepreneurs have to deal with immigration process along with these incorporation processes.
They are often transferred around different desks at government offices, different “consultants” and different phone numbers.
Some of them were refused from 10–20 scriveners.
Startups don’t have enough time and cash. In addition, the procedures tend to be more complicated because their cutting-edge business models and investments are something that ordinary scriveners are not get used to. With the tight timeline and the complicated process, the fee goes up unless the scriveners have various kinds of expertise.
Chicken and the egg? Let’s mix.
As long as we ask different procedures to different people, everybody replies back with different answers. Many entrepreneurs and startups were struggling to solve chicken and the egg issue — so I walked/ran through everything with them together.
Visiting banks and getting refused.
Calling 10 administrative offices to get one answer.
Visiting immigration bureau and waiting for 2-3 hours outside each time (in the summer over 35 celsius degree).
Getting transferred around in the same government office……
I feel the same frustration because I went through all with them facing conservative / traditional organizations.
Let’s not think we need to ask the different questions to different “consultants”.
Let’s mix them and eat them all!
Chicken and Egg Bowl, well known as “Oyako-don” is a delicious fast food in Japan. According to Japan One Cook Book, the English translation is “parent-and-child rice bowl” (Oyako / 親子 = parent and child).
Priority always exists when we solve each issue one by one. Sometimes kids bring new problems, but the essential problems sometimes lies in the behavior of their parents or in the societal system.
Chicken and the Egg problems that many entrepreneurs / startups face in Japan are the same. These are interconnected, and we cannot assume a problem is associated with a solution.
If you are stuck in the process, mix them, cook them together and eat them. Show all the ingredients, what kind of spices you got, and capture the entire picture — then we can disentangle the complicated procedures.