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Japan to open English-speaking office to lure foreign asset managers

Tokyo targets Hong Kong talent in race to become global financial hub

Experts say Tokyo needs to address its relatively high tax rate and lack of English fluency as it vies to become a major hub of global finance.   © Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan will open an English-speaking support office for foreign asset management firms seeking to do business in the country in January, Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday, as it aims to boost the country's standing as a global financial centre.

The move comes as Japan has sought for years to lure foreign professionals, while experts have said Tokyo needed to tackle issues such as a relatively high tax rate and a lack of English language fluency in the workplace.

The Financial Market Entry Office, which will be set up by the Financial Services Agency and the Local Finance Bureau, will provide assistance in English to foreign asset managers who plan to work in Japan while foreign businesses can apply to register their operations in the country in English, the government said.

"Although Asian financial markets concentrate in Hong Kong, we will make an effort to bring them to Japan," Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

"That would lead to an increase of financial capital here, which has a big meaning for the Japanese economy."

Separately, the FSA said in August it was considering tax reform. Japan's 29.74% corporate tax rate is far higher than Hong Kong's 16.5% rate, which is among the lowest in the region.

Tokyo ranked fourth in Z/Yen Group and China Development Institute's rankings of global financial centres published in September, down from third place in March, while Hong Kong rose from sixth to fifth place.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in his first policy speech to parliament in October the government would pursue a range of initiatives to make Japan a major global financial centre in Asia and in the world.

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