There are no limits on the amount of foreign currency transferred to Japan or money transferred out of Japan, but the physical transport of any currency over ¥1m must be declared to national customs authorities.
The government has largely deregulated all money transfers to and from Japan, including the transfer of interest, royalties, corporate profits and dividends, and capital repatriation. A limited number of restrictions remain, however; for example, the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act requires that foreign investment in sectors that are considered to have “national sovereignty or national security implications” must obtain prior approval from the ministry of finance if the sale includes over a 10% share of the Japanese entity. High-priority sectors include agriculture, petroleum, utilities, and telecommunications.
The Japanese yen (JPY) was the third-most traded currency in the world in 2013, after the US dollar (USD) and the euro (EUR), but ahead of the British pound (GBP). The yen is most often exchanged against the USD followed by the EUR and the Australian dollar.
Monetary policy is conducted by the central bank, the Bank of Japan, which is responsible for overseeing the financial system and ensuring price stability. The Bank’s oversight extends to financial service institutions that settle foreign currency transactions, including payment systems, securities settlement systems and “trade repositories,” under its goal of ensuring monetary stability. In addition, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), ensures that banks, insurance companies and other financial service providers comply with national regulation.
Japan was a participant in commitments by the G7 and G20 in February 2013 to refrain from manipulating exchange rates in order to serve domestic policy or competitive objectives, and has not intervened in the foreign exchange market since 2012.
Japan’s tax rates are relatively high, including a 25.5% rate each for corporate income, capital gains and branch taxes. Withholding taxes average around 20% for dividends and royalties, and between 15-20% for interest. However, the government has reduced the tax rates applied to registration, licensing and capital gains on real estate in recent years, in order to encourage higher turnover in the property market. Non-residents are required to pay taxes only on income earned in Japan, and the country has signed 50 double taxation agreements.
Japan is the world’s third-largest economy and a major trade power. However, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Japan as a proportion of GDP is the lowest among all member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Under the government’s new Growth Strategy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in mid-2013 that Japan aims to double FDI flows into Japan to JPY35trn by 2020. The country has few foreign exchange controls today, and the government aims to further open up to foreign capital by easing monetary policy and introducing fiscal incentives.
The Bank of Japan is responsible for issuing and distributing the national currency, the yen (symbol ¥). Coins are available in denominations of ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100 and ¥500; banknotes are printed in denominations of ¥1,000, ¥2,000, ¥5,000 and ¥10,000.
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