Big in Japan – opening the doors to the Japanese market

For Finnish health and life science companies with ambitions, expansion to foreign markets is one of the key points in their growth and development strategy. Many businesses start with neighbouring markets and then gradually look further, for example, toward Japan. However, is the Japanese market a good choice and what challenges are waiting for the companies?

Japan’s population is 126 million and its working population of 66.7 million contributes to the world’s number 3 GDP of 5.15 trillion USD. There are approximately 8,200 hospitals and 100,000 clinics in Japan, with the highest number of hospital beds in the world. The number of nurses currently working at medical institutions has increased by 1.4 times in the last 10 years.  In addition, the population is rapidly ageing. It is expected that 33% of the Japanese population will be over 65 by 2030. Therefore, the country needs innovations that support the well-being of the elderly people and help to maintain the high quality of medical services. This is where Finnish health technology companies can come to aid. According to Yoko Keränen, the managing director of an Oulu-based consulting company, A.Y.MIRAI, most Japanese medical institutions are far behind when it comes to IoT and digitalization. Finnish health tech companies might have huge business potential in Japan as they offer world-class technology and innovations to answer the challenges of the healthcare sector. However, apart from cutting-edge solutions to offer, the companies also need to know the right way to approach the Japanese market.

Keränen highlights the most important things any company planning to enter the Japanese market should take into consideration:

1. Medical device classification, requirements, and reimbursement detail

2. Right concept suitable to Japanese lifestyle, medical environment, and positive images 

3. Governmental projects, public subsidies, supporting system and insurance program

4. Excellent business/technical partners in Japan

5. Market, competitors, market growth and trend

A.Y.MIRAI is one of the consulting companies that aims to help open the door to the Japanese market. “MIRAI” means future in Japanese and A.Y.MIRAI aims to bring a bright future to Finnish companies in Japan. The company’s managing director was born in Japan and moved to Finland in 1997 after her graduation. Since 2000, she has been working with medical device, life science, clean energy, automation technology, ICT, wellbeing and commodity industries supporting their expansion to the Japanese market.

‘Finnish companies should be aware of the best business communication methods with the Japanese. According to the EF English proficiency index, the Japanese are not good at English, which may impact business transactions and business relationships. I believe that providing customised services in Japanese, Finnish and English languages will deliver a more satisfying outcome,’ said Keränen.

A.Y.MIRAI has experience working with businesses of different sizes, from small entrepreneurs to global market leaders offering tailor-made services. If you are interested in expansion to Japan and you need more understanding of its market, getting support on market evaluation, communication and sales is worth considering.

Contact person

Yoko Keränen

Managing Director, A.Y.MIRAI

Joanna Seppänen, Health and Life Science, BusinessOulu