Foreign companies generally establish a business presence in Japan in one of three modes; representative office, branch office, and subsidiary company:

Representative offices are established as locations for carrying out preparatory and supplemental tasks aimed at enabling foreign companies to engage in full-scale business operations in Japan. The establishment of representative offices does not require registration.

The simplest means for a foreign company to establish a base for business operations in Japan is to set up a branch office.A branch office does not have its own legal corporate status, but instead is deemed to be encompassed within the corporate status of the foreign company.

All types of subsidiary companies can be established by completing the required procedures stipulated by law and then registering the corporation. The foreign company will bear the liability of an equity participant stipulated by law for all debts and credits generated by the activities of the subsidiary.