TOKYO -- Roughly eight in 10 foreign-affiliated companies in Japan intend to step up investment here in the next five years, citing lower costs of doing business than elsewhere in Asia, a survey shows.
Their conception of the Japanese business environment is improving, the Japan External Trade Organization reported Tuesday. The government-backed organization sent questionnaires to around 1,000 such businesses last July and August, receiving 150 replies.
On plans for the next five years, 77% of companies said they would expand their business, while nearly 19% would "maintain the status quo."
Companies were also asked about obstacles to doing business in Japan. "High business costs," which topped the list in the last survey back in 2013, sank to fifth place this time around. Office rents and employee housing costs in Japan's urban centers are declining relative to Hong Kong, Singapore and other major Asian cities, supporting higher investment.
Around three-quarters, or 74%, of respondents said they expected to increase employment in Japan. Nearly 68% of that group said they would add one to nine employees.
Japan's overall business environment "hasn't changed much," about 62% of respondents said. Around 31% said it was getting somewhat better. Factors including regulatory reform and simplified administrative procedures were mentioned as improvements.