The EU-Japan Centre is to continuously evolve, expand its activities and calibrate its mission to the present needs of the EU and Japan industrial and business communities.

With this in mind, we have defined our new strategic priorities, the main one being the reinforced support for SMEs, with a particular focus on internationalization aspects. The mutual importance of the issue is obvious. The SMEs represent the backbone of EU and Japanese economies. The share of SMEs in the economy is more than 99% for both EU and Japan with a fairly similar percentage in terms of employment creation (70-80%). Both in EU and Japan the SMEs are being seen as engines for economic growth, particularly through internationalization into outside strategic markets. It is about intercepting new drivers for growth badly needed by the stagnant economies of EU and Japan.


Managerial Training Programmes

To facilitate small and medium-sized enterprises’ participation in the training schemes organized by the EU-Japan Centre, participants from SMEs can apply for a scholarship to get up to EUR 2500 towards their living expenses.


Step In Japan - a Hot desk in Tokyo

The EU-Japan Centre launched "Step in Japan", a new highly anticipated support initiative for SMEs. The service, which is offered free of charge, acts as a landing pad for EU-based SMEs planning on entering into or expanding within Japan. The initiative encompasses a full range of essential support measures for businesses:

  • a “hot desk” in Tokyo on the Centre’s premises that includes an internet connection and telephone (*) for up to 1 month (a maximum of 2 beneficiaries per time slot);
  • full access to meeting and seminar facilities within the Centre’s premises;
  • a help desk for all information inquiries on business in Japan;
  • assistance with using the Enterprise Europe Network service while in Japan.


Enterprise Europe Network - Japan Representative

With over 600 partner organisations located in 52 countries, the Enterprise Europe Network is the largest network of contact points providing information and support for SMEs in the fields of international business cooperation, innovation, knowledge and technology transfer and cooperation in EU programmes. The Network is funded by the European Commission and its services are free of charge.
As Japan representative of the Network, The EU-Japan Centre is pleased to provide you with free EEN services in cooperation with EU EEN partnering organisations.


Japan Tax and Public Procurement Helpdesk for European SMEs

This new service intends to support the market access of European companies (particularly SMEs) to Japan, through the provision of free information and services in synergy with other business support services already offered (business information helpdesk, training, logistics support). These support measures will take the form of first-line information and advice on tax and public procurement (PP) and related issues, plus related training, materials and online resources.


“Keys to Japan” – Business Plan Drafting Support Service for European SMEs

The core objective of this new service is to support European SMEs with business plans/feasibility studies for market entry in Japan.

This new service is expected to have the following general impact:

  • Open new doors in Japan – develop and expand the spectrum of business opportunities in Japan for EU SMEs;
  • Help EU SMES identify a winning market entry approach and offer practical tools and route to strategy implementation

“Keys To Japan” will assist EU SMEs with the definition and production of detailed, real-world and high quality market entry strategies in Japan. To do so, the KTJ service will leverage the expertise of services such as the Japan Market Entry Competition ( or the European Satellite Navigation Competition ( and co-sponsor the draft of generic and detailed market entry/expansion plans for a selected number of EU SMEs with the potential for a long-term commitment and interest to approaching the Japanese market.


“EU Business in Japan” – Practical information on Japan

In accordance with the project of the Directorate-General for Enterprise & Industry of the European Commission to develop a global platform providing EU businesses with relevant information about business with third countries, the EU-Japan Centre has launched in January 2014 a new website (complete with webinars, e-learning sessions, Experts’ publications) dedicated to providing practical business information on Japan to EU companies.


EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)

On 17 July 2018, the European Union and Japan signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the biggest trade agreement ever negotiated by the EU that will create an open trade zone covering over 600 million people.

The agreement is now awaiting consent by the European Parliament and the Japanese Diet following which it is expected to enter into force in 2019.

The EPA contains "a number of provisions that will simplify trade and investment procedures, reduce export and investment related costs and will therefore enable more small firms to do business in both markets. Among the expected benefits are increased transparency, less burdensome technical rules, compliance requirements, customs procedures and rules of origin, enhanced protection of intellectual property rights and geographical indications, better access to procurement tender procedures, as well as a special chapter to enable SMEs to maximise the benefits from the EPA". (Source: Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Japan - COM(2018) 192 final)


In addition to all these practical support services, SMEs have also become a major aspect of our policy analysis activities:

Policy seminars


EU-Japan Business Round Table

Created in 1999 and made up of around 50 CEOs/senior executives from leading EU and Japanese firms meeting once a year to review the factors affecting all aspects of business cooperation between the EU and Japan, and make policy Recommendations to the European Commission and Japanese Government, the Round Table appointed

Dr. Mark Plesko (CEO, President and Co-Owner at Cosylab) as first ever SME member on the occasion of the 2012 annual meeting.


Special Publications

  • In Search for Growth: Towards A New Role for SMEs in EU-Japan Relations

    This publication is specifically marking the new strategic highlight of the Centre for the coming years. The SMEs internationalization topic is approached from several angles and perspectives. The issue of trade and market access to Japan is extensively treated including views from industrial sectors as diverse as aerospace and footwear, the cross cultural aspects are also tackled.  The recent EU policy strategy is critically analysed and the publication is further enriched with the inclusion of two recent seminar reports on the specific aspects of SMEs internationalization. The picture is further completed by the results of a survey on obstacles, opportunities and the needs of support conducted among a sample of European SMEs investing or wishing to expand in Japan and by a number of testimonials from SMEs which benefited from the Centre’s training programmes and subsequently made it “Big in Japan”.

  • EU SMEs present in Japan with a branch office - a mapping attempt

    Following the survey “Opportunities for the Internationalisation of Small and Medium Enterprises”* commissioned by the European Commission in August 2011 with the aim of identifying the opportunities for EU SMEs in markets outside the EU and to identify the available support from the European commission provided to SMEs in relation to seven key target markets: Brazil, Russia, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Ukraine, the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation made an attempt towards mapping the EU SMEs physically present in Japan with a local branch.


Minerva Scholarship

Twice a year, the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation proposes a 6 months in-house fellowship scheme in Japan, designed to support its research and policy analysis of EU-Japan economic and industrial issues. Candidates should be professionals (trade and economic analysts, academics, scientists, civil servants) with a proven interest in EU-Japan cooperation from multiple perspectives (trade/market access, industrial policy issues, R&D, etc...).

For priority topics please see 



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