The Japanese retail market is one of the largest and most vibrant in the world. However, unlike in many markets, non-franchised outlets of overseas retail chains are rare.
Successful entries into Japan by European retailers have been few and the failures have been given considerable coverage by the local and international media. This has led to a perception that Japan is simply ‘too difficult’: competition is intense, costs are high, the threat of a rise in consumption tax is real, and regulatory requirements and enforcement are opaque. Many retailers looking to expand internationally pass over Japan in favour of other markets that provide examples of non-local retail success. Nevertheless, a number of European retailers that have made careful studies of the Japanese market have elected to ‘set up shop’. It is important that they be allowed the opportunity to succeed. Their success benefits the Japanese consumer by offering them greater choice. The committee is working to encourage Japan to establish mutual acceptance of standards and certification of consumer products, to minimise restrictions on large-scale retailing, and to reduce the impact of construction, safety and environmental regulations, which differ markedly from those of the EU.