Raúl González
Director of Projects and Institutional Relations
Japan External Trade organization - JETRO
Expert Contributor

Japan Finds New Ways to Promote Trade, FDI While Boosting SMEs

By Raúl González | Thu, 04/22/2021 - 08:58

Japan, a country with a distinguished history in promoting foreign trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), has become one of the largest economies in the world. Due to COVID-19, 2020 marked the beginning of the implementation of new schemes and digital programs for the promotion of foreign trade, as well as for attracting FDI into Japan.

At the same time, the internationalization of Japan’s small and midsized companies is among the government’s main objectives.

The role of JETRO, a governmental trade promotion agency, is to drive Japan to become a bigger global player, working to promote mutual trade and investment with the rest of the world. JETRO works in three core areas: assisting foreign companies entering Japan and attracting foreign direct investment; supporting exports of Japanese agricultural, forestry, fishery and food products; as well as supporting overseas expansion of small and midsized companies (SMEs).

A number of Japanese sectors are attractive to foreign investors, including:

Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

Japan is driven by efforts to enhance industrial efficiency and added value through its digital transformation focusing on the following four attractive markets in the ICT industry: 5G, cloud, quantum computing and edge computing.

The life science market is among those expected to expand due to an aging population and digitalization.

In Japan, the number of patients with cancer and other diseases is expected to increase as the number of elderly people rises, expanding the size of the life science market. In addition, there have been major innovations in research and drug discovery to treat cancer and dementia, and the digitalization of healthcare is accelerating.

Environment and Energy

Japan will focus on four attractive markets: advanced digital control technologies, renewable energy, hydrogen energy and solid-state batteries.


The Japanese manufacturing industry is expanding with the promotion of digitalization and the main four attractive markets in the manufacturing industry are: automobiles, industrial robots, semiconductors and machine tolls.

Supporting Japanese SMEs

Regarding promotional activities for the export of Japanese foods, JETRO supports the development of sales channels and the establishment of bases for SMEs in overseas markets where expansion is expected to grow due to strong demand and economic cooperation. In addition, JETRO helps streamline the activities of companies already active in those markets. To that end, JETRO facilitates business negotiations (such as at overseas trade fairs), the utilization of cross-border e-commerce, the employment of overseas business personnel, the development of frontier markets, and the use of intellectual property.

In February this year, JETRO Mexico and JETRO Los Angeles organized the "Japanese Food Virtual Expo 2021," a virtual event where buyers from the US and Mexico connected with more than 200 of the best Japanese producers and suppliers of food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, ingredients and kitchen utensils.

Furthermore, to promote safe and delicious Japanese food products and alcoholic beverages in every corner of the world, JETRO implemented a certification program for “Japanese food and ingredient supporter stores overseas.” This program was designed to certify overseas restaurants, bars and retailers that carry Japanese food and beverages as official “Japanese Food Supporters” in order to further promote Japanese agricultural, forestry, fishery and food products around the world. As of the end of February 2021, JETRO had certified 62 restaurants and 58 retail stores in Mexico.

It is true that the coronavirus crisis has resulted in great changes in the implementation of trade and investment promotion activities and the development of opportunities for new business. For JETRO, as Japan's business promotion agency, the year 2020 marked great changes in its activities, which have been oriented toward digitalization where virtual activity has played a very important role.

During the past year and due to the restrictions of visiting Japan due to the pandemic, new technologies and new strategies had to be developed to attract the interest of business partners for Japanese companies. Promoting trade and investment worldwide will no longer be the same.

If you are interested in doing business with Japan, talk to JETRO first.

Photo by:   Raul González