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Chamber of commerce members interacting with each other

Chambers of Commerce in Japan

Are you a foreign business owner seeking resources from your home country’s chamber of commerce in Japan? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Focusing more on international chambers of commerce in Japan, this article will help you understand what these chambers can do to help you grow and support your business.

What are the Chambers of Commerce in Japan?

A chamber of commerce is a privately owned non-profit organization funded by its members which consist of large and small businesses. Compared to organizations such as the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) which promote trade and investment on an international scale, chambers of commerce have a relatively smaller scope.

According to the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), which was the very first chamber to be established in Japan, these organizations are regional; consist of a community of both large and small companies in every industry; are non-profit and non-political; and mirror the same structure as chambers in other countries. As of November 2023, there are currently over 80 chambers of commerce in Japan; about 50 of which are Japanese while the remaining are foreign chambers (e.g. American Chamber of Commerce in Japan).

Chambers of Commerce in Japan also hold different events open to the public such as free online seminars by the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Annual British Business Awards by the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

Although there are different types of chambers of commerce in Japan, the difference is mainly their scope. Examples of local chambers of commerce in Japan would be the Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, and Ibaraki chambers of commerce. These local chambers cater to businesses and organizations operating within the specific geographic area they serve. A regional chamber of commerce would be significantly larger, covering a specific region or prefecture such as Kyushu or Okinawa.

Lastly, international chambers of commerce in Japan serve businesses that operate internationally. The member community of these chambers would be much more diverse with both Japanese and foreign business owners or companies.

What is a Chamber of Commerce Membership and why would I want one?

Direct Benefits of Membership

Some common benefits of joining these chambers of commerce in Japan as a member include networking opportunities, access to exclusive events, inclusion in publications, and business promotions. Benefits like these would open up new doors for you and your business. Participating in a chamber’s networking opportunities will help establish valuable connections with potential partners, clients, and industry experts. In doing so, such connections could be taken further and turned into collaborations, insights, and overall enhanced business success in the market. Exclusive events such as seminars may also reward you with education and learnings that you may implement into your business. 

In addition to the standard benefits mentioned in the earlier paragraph, chambers of commerce in Japan also offer member-to-member benefits.  For example, members of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCCJ) are provided the CJU Update Service which provides them with a quarterly publication of The Canadian. This is helpful for its members as it serves as an informative publication that updates its members on new developments, market trends, and insights. Such information provides members with valuable knowledge to stay competitive in their respective industries. 

Another example of a member-to-member benefit is exclusive discount codes on certain products from members of the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Discounted products help businesses substantially cut their costs and use the saved money to invest in other resources that would help with its growth and development. Furthermore, offers like these from companies will foster a sense of community and collaboration within chambers of commerce in Japan seeing that the members can share their privileges.

How can I join a Chamber of Commerce?

Applying for membership in a chamber of commerce

If the previous paragraphs have piqued your interest in joining chambers of commerce in Japan, this section is for you! The next paragraphs will focus on the hows and about of joining a chamber of commerce in Japan so that you, too, can be part of a community that has much in store for your business.

General Requirements

  • Membership Eligibility: Chambers of Commerce in Japan have no strict eligibility requirements. Membership is generally open to individuals and companies of all nationalities.
  • Membership Fee: Membership fees vary widely depending on the membership type and the chamber. For example, the following table shows the different types of memberships and their fees at the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ).
Membership TypeAnnual Cost (¥)
President’s Circle Package7,500,000
Corporate Sustaining Membership1,800,000
Company Membership250,000
Small Company Package150,000
Educational Institution Package150,000
Individual Membership75,000
Non-resident Membership30,000
Graduate Student Membership24,000
  • Required Documents: Upon preparing your application, you will likely be required to submit certain documents to confirm your identity and/or your business. Some examples of documents you may need to submit are a company registration certificate, a membership motivation composition, and some form of personal identification.
    • For our readers who are still in the process of starting their business in Japan, you may be required to open a corporate bank account before obtaining a company registration certificate. In such a case, you may want to take a look at our Guide to Corporate Bank Account in Japan.
  • Screening Requirements: Some chambers of commerce in Japan may conduct screening processes that involve interview/s and/or referrals.
  • The general process of applying for membership in chambers of commerce in Japan includes around seven steps. However, this may change depending on how certain chambers wish to screen their applicants.

Joining Procedure

  1. Check Eligibility
    • Double-check your chamber’s website for any specific eligibility requirements. There will usually be a choice to contact them about your eligibility, or the conditions will already be displayed on the website.
  2. Choose membership type
    • Read into the different membership types or categories and compare their features to find out which one suits your preferences the most. Don’t forget to consider the annual fees!
  3. Prepare required documents
    • Some chambers of commerce in Japan allow applicants to order an information package that contains more details about membership. Otherwise, a list of required documents should be readily available on the chamber’s page.
  4. Submit application
    • Once you’ve prepared all the necessary documents, it’s time to send in your application. Take note that sending your application may be done online or by post. This will also depend on which chamber you are applying for.
  5. Screening process
    • After submitting your application, you will need to give the chamber some time to review your documents. The next step is either the result of your application (approved or denied) or an interview for the chamber to get to know you and/or your business in further detail.
  6. Pay membership fee
    • You’re almost there! Upon the chamber’s approval of your application, you’ll need to pay the membership fee depending on which type you have selected in order to lock in your membership in the chamber.
  7. Attend orientation
    • If you aren’t already an official member of the chamber upon paying the membership fee, it’s most likely because you need to attend an orientation session to brief you on your responsibilities. Not all chambers require this, but it’s a great way to inform you about what it really means to be a full-fledged member.

Top 5 Active Chambers of Commerce in Japan

Chambers of commerce in Japan building exteriors

Now that we’ve got the application process down, do you have any chambers of commerce in Japan in mind that you’d like to join? The table below provides a list of the 5 most active chambers of commerce in Japan. We have listed some of their notable members, as well as the membership types and annual fees of each for your reference. In the event that you wish to learn even more about these chambers, feel free to visit their respective websites.

ChamberNotable MembersMembership types and annual fees (¥)
American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ)-Universal Studios Japan
-Cisco
-Uber Japan

President’s Circle Package – 7,500,000
Corporate Sustaining – 1,800,000
Company – 250,000
Small Company Package – 150,000
Educational Institution Package – 150,000
Individual – 75,000
Non-resident – 30,000
Graduate Student – 24,000
British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ)-Unilever Japan
-Bentley Motors Japan
-Hilton Worldwide
Platinum (Invite only) – 700,000
Corporate – 250,000
Entrepreneur – 100,000
Individual – 50,000
CCI France Japon (CCIFJ)-Nihon L’Oreal K.K.
-AEON Co., Ltd.
-AXA Life Insurance Co., Ltd.
Benefactor – 600,000
Active – 270,000
Start-up – 130,000
Non-Kanto – 130,000
Non-resident – ~77,000
Individual – 75,000
Indian Chamber of Commerce – Japan (ICCJ)-Air India
-Bank of India
-Orient Pearl Co., Ltd.
Contact the chamber through:
Tel: (06) 6261-1741(2-lines)
Fax: (06) 6264-1605
E-mail: [email protected]
Address: 702, Authentic Higashi Senba Bldg, 2-1, Kitakyuhouji-machi 1-chome Chuo-ku, Osaka 541-0057
Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ)
-Manulife
-Mitsubishi Corporation
-Shopify
Sustaining Member – 600,000
Non-Resident, Non-Kanto Sustaining Member – 400,000
Corporate Member – 210,000
Non-Resident, Non-Kanto Corporate Member – 100,000
Small Business Member – 70,000
Non-Resident, Non-Kanto Small Business Member – 30,000
Individual Member – 40,000
Non-Resident, Non-Kanto Individual Member – 15,000
Young Professional – 5,000

If you can’t find your country’s Chamber of Commerce in Japan or if it isn’t as active as the chambers we’ve mentioned, we’ve got your back! We have a whole article about business networking in Japan, so feel free to give it a look. It doesn’t only tell you where and how to do business networking in Japan, but how to thrive at it as well!

How can the Chambers of Commerce in Japan help me scale my business?

Business scaling and growth through chambers of commerce

Strategic Entry and Market Research Assistance

By joining chambers of commerce in Japan, you will be granted access to comprehensive databases and resources related to local and regional markets. These will provide information on crucial information such as market trends, demographics, consumer behavior, and industry insights. Additionally, a wide network will help start-ups interact with a large community of fellow entrepreneurs and experts in the field, opening opportunities for exchanging market knowledge and entry strategies. Most, if not all chambers also release many news articles, reports, and publications containing extensive research on markets and local business environments. Businesses and entrepreneurs will be able to use this upon entering a new market or expanding their existing presence.

Guidance on government policies and local regulations is another way that chambers of commerce in Japan can help with market entry. Experienced businesses in the community will be able to guide newer companies through the legal aspects of establishing their presence. This may also include guidance on export strategies, trade regulations, and even market entry in foreign countries as chambers of commerce in Japan can connect businesses with relevant organizations that promote global expansion.

Reading into certain chambers such as the CCIFJ and ACCJ, you will find that they offer business development services or agendas for their members. These typically entail mentorship, training, and consultations which aid businesses in forming an effective market entry strategy.

Of course, visibility and reach are important elements in this topic. Being a member of chambers of commerce in Japan provides companies with a platform to advocate their causes and represent their brand. On a larger scale, a chamber itself can represent its members and their concerns to government authorities, ultimately influencing policies concerned with the market and business operations.

To further empower your market entry journey, delve into our comprehensive guide on Japan Market Entry. It’s filled with valuable insights, offering in-depth knowledge and strategic approaches to help you navigate the Japanese market confidently.

Businesses and their chambers of commerce in Japan

SignTime (ACCJ)

Founded in 2021, SignTime is a company that promotes efficiency in digital contracting through its services. The company scored a feature in the ACCJ Journal in which Jim Weisser, founder of SignTime, discussed some challenges faced in launching a startup and some advice on how these can be overcome.

EY Japan (BCCJ)

EY Japan, short for Ernst & Young, offers legal, HR, consulting, and a handful of other services in pursuit of social impact. As the winner of the Company of the Year Award of the British Business Awards 2023, EY Japan makes it a point that investing in human capital and co-creation internally and with external partners serve as a critical step in upholding their main purpose of “building a better world.”

LIFE 14 (CCCJ)

LIFE 14 is a small business member of the CCCJ which offers audiovisual media services and works closely with high-profile entities such as embassies, international organizations, and global conferences. In 2020, the CCCJ hosted a Maple Leaf Gala at the Embassy of Canada to Japan. This was an intimate event of only 120 people in which a silent charity auction was also held. LIFE 14 was entrusted with the task of documenting the event in photos and videos.

HOPE International Development Agency (CCCJ)

Every year, the CCCJ holds a Maple Leaf Gala which also entails the silent charity auction as mentioned earlier. Running this auction every year is HOPE-JP, an extension of the Vancouver-based HOPE International Development Agency.

Kreston Proworks (CCIFJ)

In an article published on the office CCIFJ website, Kreston Proworks, a part of Kreston Global, boasts its ranking as the 10th biggest accounting network in Japan by the International Accounting Bulletin. The article further states that Kreston Proworks has its membership in the CCIFJ to thank for the resources, network, and competitive edge it provided to the company.

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How can the Chambers of Commerce in Japan contribute to the long-term success of my business?

Sustained Business Growth

With an abundance of resources, connections, and events, chambers of commerce in Japan can organize workshops and training sessions to help businesses learn and maximize what digital technologies have to offer. E-commerce platforms, for example, have been on the rise for their convenience. By learning how to navigate these platforms and effectively using them, businesses will be able to widen their reach. Additionally, chambers offer different publications and digital resources. Some of which may be exclusive to its members. Businesses can then access these resources to increase their knowledge and implement their learnings into their operations.

Another important factor necessary for sustained business growth is tech partnerships. Constant technological advancements arise frequently, so it is important for companies to be able to keep up with these to find the most affordable and efficient ways to get work done. A chamber’s role is to connect its members with one another, ultimately leading to tech companies and companies who need their services to form partnerships.

Chambers of Commerce can also advise their members on concerns of cybersecurity. This is especially important for businesses that handle a large sum of personal information from clients or customers. Although, this is essential for any business to maintain its security and reputation online.

Involvement in Policy Making

Given that chambers of commerce in Japan represent the collective interests of their members to governments, being a member essentially provides you with a part in policy making. Chambers may hold strong connections with government bodies, allowing them means of communication as well as access to information about policies concerning the market. There are also opportunities in which chambers hold events and forums with government officials and policymakers as guests and speakers.

Policy committees and members’ opinions are also taken into account before presenting concerns to government officials. Additionally, publications and exclusive data resources keep members of chambers updated on legislative updates and any policy changes that may concern their business operations.

Moreover, the Japanese government offers subsidies for businesses. Chambers can help its members obtain these in various ways. First, a chamber’s exclusive community of members would provide valuable and updated information about subsidy programs, eligibility requirements, and application procedures. In some cases, chambers may also provide guidance and support for members who are interested in applying to receive the subsidies.

Additionally, because chambers represent the collective interests of their members to government bodies, they can collaborate with government agencies that oversee the programs that offer subsidies. Lastly, businesses may use the chamber to bridge a relationship with relevant government agencies to secure their subsidies. 
Curious to learn more about Japanese government subsidies? We have just the thing for you! Visit Get Japanese government money for your business for more information!

Leadership Opportunities

Chambers such as the ACCJ present leadership opportunities that would help individuals develop priceless skills necessary for network expansion and active engagement in their local business environment. In an article in the ACCJ Journal, ACCJ President Jenifer Rogers writes “Investing yourself in the chamber is a great investment in Japan.” The article explains how taking initiative in such an influential network of businesses and entrepreneurs pays off in the long run. Rogers further writes that leadership in chambers of commerce in Japan can serve as either a stepping stone in one’s professional journey or an experienced leader’s way of returning the favor to their community.

While only three contributions to long-term success have been listed in this article, it is up to you to find more ways to maximize your own membership in chambers of commerce in Japan and the resources and network you will have access to.

Final Thoughts

To wrap up this article, chambers of commerce in Japan are regional non-profit and non-government organizations funded by and for its members. A handful of active international chambers of commerce in Japan are worth looking into if you are interested in applying for a membership. Joining a chamber will frequently open your doors to opportunities to expand your network, and access valuable resources, and a diverse community of individuals and businesses. In doing such, you will discover new perspectives and opportunities. 

So, embrace the chance to learn, collaborate, and thrive together within your local business ecosystem! As Bill Nye once said, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” 

If you found this article helpful and are interested in similar content, we recommend subscribing to our email newsletter for more information ranging from finding investors to doing sales in Japan! 

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