Tax incentive zones for foreign investors

May 25, 2012  |  Incentives

Mount Iwaki-san, a dormant volcano in Aomori-ken to the far north of the main island in Japan.

In June 1011 the Japanese Diet passed 2011 tax reform legislation delayed by the March earthquake including tax incentives for foreign investors.

Although not generous when compared with other Asian countries, this represents the first time the Japanese government has passed a meaningful set of tax incentives targeting inbound investment.

This article collates resourecs related to the zones including a map of zones approved in the first round of application.

Special International Zones?

Since June 2011 a number of Japanese local authorities, including the Tokyo central government, have designated defined areas under their jurisdiction as “Special Zones for Comprehensive International Strategy” (in Japanese 国際戦略総合特別区域・kokusai senryaku sougou tokubetsu kuiki and below abbreviated “Special International Zones”).


In keeping with the schizophrenic approach to encouraging inbound investment the Japanese authorities have done little to make information around these incentives easily available on the internet in English or Japanese. However there are some resources available below.

  • The Prime Minister’s office includes a notice board with news updates in Japanese.

  • Key related law can be found here (in Japanese). The Japanese law translation website notes that the law is due for translation later in 2012.

  • The Tokyo Government seems to have the best information in English available, with both a web page along with a brochure and contact details promoting their initiative

  • The Tokyo Government also has a map showing the scope of their Special International Zone, which is referred to in translation as the “Asia Headquarters Zone”.

    Importantly this area includes some of Tokyo’s most interesting districts around Shinjuku, Shibuya and Shinagawa station and also suprisingly its most presigious business districts around Tokyo Station stretching out past the Imperial Palace to Roppongi, an imporant center of Tokyo expatriate life.

  • The Ministry of Trade and Industry demonstrates its commitment to encouraging foreign investment with a page aatually in English summarising the scheme.

  • Finally we have a list of the zones approved further to a first round of applications. This map below also indicates where these zones are in Japan

So where are the zones?

The map below shows the location of incentive zones that have received the first round of approval. Further approval rounds will follow. A particular zone will included small packages of land located over an area near a main Japanese city. This map shows some of these main zones but please refer to the links included in the map for more details of the zone concerned.

A full size version of the map can be found here.

View 総合特別区域 Japanese Tax Incentive Zones in a larger map

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