Population (2021): 126 million
GDP (2020): US$4975.42 billion
World Bank “Ease of Doing Business” Rank (2019): 30th
Bilateral Trade with Singapore (2020): S$15.8 billion
Global Competitiveness Index (2018): 5.5, 9th worldwide
Global Innovation Index (2020): 16th worldwide
Japan is the world’s third largest economy with a GDP of US$5.06 trillion1. As a developed market, the economy is primarily driven by manufacturing, retail, and the services sector, of which tourism is a key component. The government is also putting effort into increasing agriculture and infrastructure exports, presenting opportunities for wholesale trade and third-country infrastructure collaborations.
In the tech space, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is keen on attracting Internet of things (IoT) and fintech firms to set up in Tokyo, while large corporates such as Softbank have been actively seeking investment opportunities in startups.
Demographically, Japan has an aging population with limited immigration. This has led to the growth of the eldercare and medtech industries, which now offer many opportunities for collaboration.
Japan presents opportunities in the tourism & hospitality, infrastructure, digital economy & technology startups sectors. Outside of Tokyo, Fukuoka presents itself as a potential landing site for startups, while Osaka is strong in medtech and deeptech.
1: https://www.investopedia.com/insights/worlds-top-economies, 2021
Japan remains a global technology leader, ranking third in the world for the number of patents filed annually. Forging technology partnerships with Japanese firms is an excellent way for Singapore firms to improve their capabilities and increase their global competitiveness.
By 2050, more than 40% of Japan’s population will be aged 65 and above. This growing aging population represents opportunities in the healthcare and service sector for Singapore companies specialising in the silver market.
Japan has intensified its green economy efforts in recent years. In October 2020, the country pledged to achieve net-zero by 2050. The government underscored this commitment by writing the net-zero pledge into domestic law in June 2021.
Japanese companies are strong in hydrogen and ammonia-related green technologies and could be potential partners for Singaporean companies interested in pursuing new business opportunities in these technology areas.
In January 2022, Singapore and Japan signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on low-emissions solutions in January, which creates opportunities for more collaboration on practical projects and initiatives on new and emerging low-emissions technologies, such as hydrogen and its supply chain, carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), and fuel ammonia.
Japan is often regarded as one of the world’s top nations when it comes to innovation and quality. Despite the natural disasters that the country has endured in recent years, things appear to be picking up and it is back to “business-as-usual” for most companies and manufacturing bases. Many Japanese companies are looking to branch out into Southeast Asia, which presents opportunities for Singapore companies to partner them in their expansion plans.