Japan knows very well the value of a successful startup. That’s why the J-Startup program has been launched. Let’s find out what this initiative is about!

In Japan, over 10,000 startups face the challenge of expanding to the global market, but few have succeeded so far.

With the aim of busting this trend, in 2018 METI (The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry) has launched the
J-Startup Program, an initiative aimed at Japanese startups.

It plans to produce 20 unicorns / listed companies by 2023, choosing 100 startups from among 10,000 startups throughout Japan based on experts’ evaluation.

Here we analyze the four steps in which J-Startup is divided, and how it will influence the startup scenery in Japan.


Once ascertained that expanding globally is not an easy task for many startups, the Japanese government has decided to intervene. With the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry J-Startup has been launched in 2018.

The aim is to incubate internationally competitive and winning startups and encourage them to provide new value to the rest of the world through their innovative technologies and business models.

Under the program, both public and private resources converge to support selected startups and to promote their development overseas. J-Startup supporters include large companies, venture capitals, and accelerators, other ministries and agencies.

The initiative refers to discussions the government has been holding concerning a national goal that aims to establish 20 venture businesses with a corporate value or market capitalization of over 1 billion dollars, targeting those unlisted (unicorn companies) and listed, by 2023.

To achieve this goal, it is planned incubation of promising startups that are expected to expand their business internationally and also creating role models that encourage society overall to cultivate entrepreneurship, a mindset motivating people to establish a company, and take on new businesses.


With the purpose of boosting the growth of top-level startups, dedicated recommenders, such as top-venture capitalists, accelerators, representatives from large companies responsible for innovation will select the best candidates among approximately 10,000 Japanese startups.

Then, an external judging committee will review them in accordance with the reasons for the recommendation. Startups passing through the rigorous examination will be granted certification as special startups of the J-Startup program.

Recommenders and members of the external judging committee will be appointed by the secretariat and the METI, based on abundant experience and achievements in supporting ventures.

The criterion for the selection includes a view of originality, potential, and mission settings, in the fields of real tech, platforms, and SDGs.


Once in the J-Startup program, the members will receive private and public support.

Support by the private sector:

  • Providing business space and granting fee preferential treatment
    (office space, vacant space within factory, training facilities, and showrooms, etc.)
  • Working together in doing experimental studies with robots, products and parts, and infrastructure network providing the test environment and analysis equipment
  • Providing acceleration programs and granting preferential treatment in manufacturing support programs
  • Providing advice by specialists and human resources with know-hows
  • Referring startups to its customers and related companies

Support by the government:

  • Allowing startups to use the official logo of J-Startup (branding as a certified company)
  • Publicizing through a dedicated website and domestic and overseas media outlets
  • Welcoming startups on overseas missions led by ministers and other government officials
  • Assisting in exhibiting at large-scale overseas and domestic events
  • Granting preferential treatment in support measures such as subsidies, and simplifying procedures
  • Providing business matching (individual connections to executives of large firms, ministries, and agencies)
  • Utilization of a regulatory sandbox system
  • Handling requests related to regulations

The selected startups will also be able to participate in global events such as GITEX FUTURE STARS, WebSummit, SLUSH, Consumer Electronics Show, or SXSW.

Go Global!

The program continues with assisting the companies of the J-Startup initiative in expanding business overseas. The support consists of the Startup Tour and JETRO Global Acceleration Hub.

JETRO (The Japan External Trade Organization) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. Since 2003, JETRO has supported more than 15,000 business investment projects and helped over 1,500 companies successfully invest in Japan.

The organization promotes business collaboration between Japanese companies and American companies:

  • The selected Japanese startups will be supported in entering the startup ecosystem in Silicon Valley and Boston
  • Support to the US startups to expand their business in Japan
  • Collect and dispatch the latest information related to industry trends and new movement in the Silicon Valley and Boston ecosystems

Japan recognizes the value of promising startups. J-Startup program is an exemplary supporting tool to encourage globalization, but also to promote an entrepreneurial mindset all over the Country.