Doing Business in Japan: What are the Latest Market Trends?

One of the richest countries with the fourth largest free market economy in the world, Japan offers many importing and exporting opportunities for businesses.

Japan is well-known for being highly efficient and competitive in many areas of business, at the forefront of numerous technological advancements. Electronics and technology are the first things that spring to most people’s minds, but this island nation has many other popular markets.


In 2015 Japan exported $625.1 billion worth of goods. Although it has seen its export market drop in the last five years, it still accounted for 12.9% of its economic output and possesses many busy markets, producing goods in a number of sectors that are popular around the world. Asian neighbours, the USA and Europe are the three main destinations that do business with Japanese companies.


Major Japanese Industries

Agriculture, distribution and services are some of the less productive industries in Japan, but the country has many more which have led it to become one of the ten richest nations in the world.

Electronic Equipment

Japan is synonymous with futuristic technology, a world leader in innovative new designs. Electronic equipment made up 15.3% of the country’s export market for 2015, and it is home to many famous brands such as Sony, Casio, Hitachi and many more. From televisions to games consoles and mobile phones, Japan is a hotbed of electronics production, associated with quality brands both in and outside the country that instil confidence with consumers.


Iron and Steel

Iron and steel are Japan’s highest exported commodities, above plastics, oil and more. $27.5 billion worth of the two metals were exported in 2015, with the amount following a general upward trend that peaked in 2008 before the global recession. Japan uses plenty of the two metals in its own industry as well, including vehicle and other manufacturing sectors.



Machinery, including engines, pumps and other essential components, are one of Japan’s most valuable exports. This links in well with the country’s willingness to innovate when it comes to new technology and machinery. The machinery market is made up of both industrial, factory products and personal, domestic appliances and the appropriate parts.


Meat was the fastest growing Japanese export in 2015, up 103.6% from the previous year and valued at $111.4 million. This is somewhat surprising given the country’s history of importing far more meat than it exports, due to the nation’s landscape and climate. Still, it is the world’s ninth largest chicken meat producer and thanks to the famous stature of Kobe beef, sushi and certain other foods, they are boosting the country’s meat export markets.



Just behind iron and steel, plastics accounted for $22.5 billion worth of exports in 2015. Plastics are used both throughout Japan in production of all sorts of items, from electronic goods to vehicles, machinery and many more. There are various types of plastics produced which are suitable for all manner of applications, opening up a wide number of potential buyers across the world.



Japan has an excellent reputation when it comes to vehicles, with most of the cars it produces well-known for being reliable and efficient. Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan are just some of the country’s most famous car manufacturers that can be found all over the world. Vehicles are Japan’s number one export, worth $134 billion in 2015.

The Future of Japanese Business

In the past five years Japan has seen its export market shrink in most sectors, with smaller ones such as the meat, cereals, vegetables, wood and other singular exports the only ones growing. There is a lot of cynicism regarding the future from many Japanese citizens and uncertainty about its economy. However, it is a nation known for innovation and Tokyo is home to many new start-ups, with the government keen to invest in them and other technology companies.


The drop in exports does provide a number of opportunities for companies hoping to do business with Japan. At TNT, our international shipping tools are helpful for any business wanting to start importing from or exporting to the country. With a large delivery network, it is easy to get your parcels sent to or from Japan.