(Published: 2024/6/18)


When foreigners start a business in Japan, there are generally two main options: sole proprietor or company. Depending on your situation, you can choose either, but in both cases, it’s common to rely on a Japanese accountant (tax accountant) for filing tax returns. Why is this? Is there no option to do it yourself? For sole proprietors with relatively small businesses (for instance, with sales of less than 5 million yen), it may not be a big problem to file tax returns on your own. However, if you have significant sales and want to avoid paying large amounts of tax unknowingly, it’s prudent to hire an accountant. There are also many cases where the necessary taxes aren’t paid unknowingly. This is because it’s very difficult for foreigners to obtain reliable information in English to correctly file tax returns. While I aim to provide as much useful information as possible, it’s challenging to cover everything on a website. Additionally, even in Japanese, obtaining information online for filing tax returns is very difficult. Books for tax returns in Japanese are available at bookstores, but it’s very rare for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to read these and file their own tax returns. Accurate knowledge and experience in double-entry bookkeeping are essential, as is understanding all types of taxes related to the company. Correct interpretation of tax rules is also mandatory. Considering the time required for all this, it is most wise to hire an accountant. In fact, most SMEs run by Japanese also seek support from accountants. Needless to say, this is even more important for foreigners.

How to find an accountant?

So, you understand that you need an accountant. But how do you find one? Here are three ways:

  1. Search through JETRO and FSA



JETRO is a Japanese government-affiliated organization that promotes trade and investment to develop the Japanese economy. The FSA stands for the Financial Services Agency, a Japanese government body. These organizations have lists of professionals providing services related to taxes and law. The languages in which services are offered are also indicated, so you can check in advance if the accountant can handle English. However, note that the listings on JETRO and FSA are not necessarily rigorously vetted, so you need to check the quality and prices of the services directly. Additionally, if you want to establish a company, you’ll need a judicial scrivener (Shiho-shoshi), and you can also find English-speaking judicial scriveners through JETRO and FSA.

  1. Get introduced by a judicial scrivener (Shiho-shoshi)

As mentioned, to establish a company, you need to hire a judicial scrivener (Shiho-shoshi). Naturally, tax returns are submitted after the company is established. Therefore, your initial contact will be with a judicial scrivener, followed by an accountant. For this reason, it’s also wise to get an introduction to an accountant from a judicial scrivener. English-speaking judicial scriveners often have connections with English-speaking accountants.

  1. Search on the Internet

This might be the most obvious way, but you can also search using Google or other search engines. Searching in English with terms like “accountant Japan” should yield many candidates. One thing to note is that the services provided by accountants can vary. Just as there are different types of doctors (Surgeons, ophthalmologists, etc.), there are different specializations among accountants. Therefore, it’s important to check the accountant’s website to ensure they offer the services you need. This may not always be clear, so you might need to inquire directly. In my personal experience, most accountant websites are in Japanese, and there are very few in English. However, some of these Japanese-only websites do offer services in English. In such cases, searching in Japanese with terms like “英語対応可 税理士” or “英語対応可 会計士” can be helpful.


It is difficult to obtain accurate tax information in English, and even if you do, correctly preparing tax returns is very challenging and risky. Therefore, it is common to hire an English-speaking accountant. This article introduced methods such as using JETRO or FSA, getting an introduction from a judicial scrivener, and searching on the Internet.