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Japan looks to spur investment with step-by-step registration guide

Watchdog hopes handbook for setting up firms brings more players to Tokyo

The FSA has partnered with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to promote the city as an international financial center. (Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

TOKYO -- Japan's Financial Services Agency is preparing a guidebook on the process of registering an investment firm, hoping to spur market activity and enhance Tokyo's standing as a global financial hub.

There are about 300 investment companies registered in Japan, compared with thousands in the U.S. One reason is that registering in Japan can take a long time, and the procedures are not exactly clear. Prospective registrants have no way of knowing what criteria they need to meet before actually applying.

For foreign applicants, the process can take more than a year.

The goal of the guidebook will be to present the necessary information in an easy-to-understand format beforehand, making it easier to get ready. The book will be published this month in Japanese and English, with illustrations that describe the registration process for investment management, investment advisory and other related businesses.

It will also detail the internal management systems that need to be in place before applying.

The FSA has partnered with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to promote the city as an international financial center. It hopes the handbook will help to attract foreign hedge funds as well as Japanese-backed investment firms based in overseas markets like Singapore.

The move comes after controversial new rules for reporting stakes in sensitive industries raised concerns that investors might begin to shy away from Japan.

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