The U.S. Commercial Service provides guidance on doing business in Japan and offers valuable assistance to help U.S. businesses exporting to Japan.
Why doing business in Japan? -- It has never been easier to do business in Japan. Savvy observers agree that an active engagement with the Japanese market remains critical to the success of American business, both big and small alike, as well as to U.S. states seeking trade and investment with Japan. While the reasons U.S. firms engage with Japan are diverse and often complex, most firms recognize that underestimating the strategic and tactical importance of selling to and competing in the Japanese market may disadvantage them not only in Japan, but also in the U.S. and third-country markets as well.
Japan is very much open for business, despite the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Northeast coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island, on March 11, 2011. Indeed, U.S.-Japan trade actually increased in 2011 over 2010.
Japan remains the world‘s third largest economy, after the U.S. and China, with a GDP of roughly $5.9 trillion. Japan is the fourth largest export market for U.S. goods, and our fourth largest trading partner overall in 2011 with over $181 billion in two-way goods trade, a 23.1 percent jump over 2010. In 2011 the U.S. exported $66.2 billion in goods to Japan, up from $60.5 billion in 2010. In services trade, the United States maintains a $19.2 billion surplus with Japan on two-way trade totaling $71.1 billion.
Japan is the second largest foreign investor in the U.S., with more than $257 billion invested.
During 2011 the Japanese yen strengthened significantly against the U.S. dollar, reaching a 15-year high of 75.86 yen to the dollar in October 2011. American goods and services have never been more affordable for Japanese buyers.
Japan's large government debt, which is over 200 percent of GDP, persistent deflation, and an aging and shrinking population are major complications for the economy.
In 2011, the top exporters to Japan were China, US, Australia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Korea, and Indonesia. The top importers from Japan were China, US, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
The U.S.-Japan alliance is a cornerstone of U.S. security interests in Asia and is fundamental to regional stability and prosperity. Despite the changes in the post-Cold War strategic landscape, the United States-Japan alliance continues to be based on shared vital interests and values. These include stability in the Asia-Pacific region, the preservation and promotion of political and economic freedoms, support for human rights and democratic institutions, and securing of prosperity for the people of both countries and the international community as a whole. Japan is one of the world‘s most prosperous and stable democracies.