What makes the Philippines a great Japanese business hub?

Nadine D. Ong • March 14, 2018


        Over the years, strong business ties have been forged between Japan and the Philippines. In 2016, Japan was even hailed as the Philippines’ largest trading partner, amassing over $11.7 billion worth of foreign trade. 

With the current administration underway, bonds between the two nations have been progressively strengthening all the more. This can be evidenced by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s generous $1.26 billion loan, of which is expected to finance three of the major infrastructure projects planned this presidency. This amount forms but a segment of the $8.8-billion, or the ¥1-trillion allocated for various financial assistance projects and investments to be made to the country. 

This bout of assistance brought forth by the prime minister has managed to pique the interest of countless other Japanese businesses, particularly those of the infrastructure and retail industry. This increased interest can be attributed to the improving economic and business climate in the Philippines. 

In early 2015, although there were already a number of Japanese firms looking into venturing to the Philippines, several of them were expressing concerns over the state of doing business in the country. When Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO) executive director Tomohiro Ando was asked about the risks that came with investing in the Philippines, underdeveloped infrastructure and complicated steps to getting government approval were among others. Along with several other risk factors, these were the primary causes of apprehension that made Japanese multinational companies have second thoughts about investing in the Philippines.

Flash forward three years and we can definitely say that noticeable improvements are being made to address these issues. The ongoing “Golden Age of Infrastructure” is predicted to bring forth a new way of doing business, one that is more convenient, more efficient. Connecting cities, creating new paths that bridge people together will create for more opportunities that can improve the makeup of the current business setting. This is great not only for Japanese firms looking to expand to the Philippines but also to help launch the Philippines to international standards. Furthermore, plans to improve do not stop there. Aside from the infrastructure, movements have additionally been made to lessen the restrictions placed on foreigners doing business in the Philippines, quickening the once management of businesses in the country.

            These government-planned improvements are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many reasons why the Philippines is an ideal place to house Japanese businesses and investments. Listed here are the reasons why the Philippines houses countless opportunities for interested Japanese entrepreneurs.


Strategic Position in Asia

          The Philippines, only a maximum of four hours flying distance away from any of the major capitals of Asia, is revered worldwide for its strategic location. As it is situated in close proximity to countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Thailand to name a few, opening up a firm in the country is like entering what is known as “Asia’s Gateway”.      Philippine history even shows that many of those who sought to colonize the country wanted to do so not only because of the country’s many natural resources but also due to its key position. This caused the Manila Galleon Trade to be so profitable for those who participated in it, thus revolutionizing international trade altogether.

      Likewise, in the modern age, the country’s strategic importance still holds true. It has now embraced its role as an international trade center and has become integral to business transactions between the East and the West. Any company can easily connect themselves to the heart of Southeast Asia by simply expanding to the Philippines.


Japanese and Filipino cultures in harmony

          What is common in both Japanese and Filipino culture is that they both place great importance on the value of respect and deep ties. In personal as well as business transactions, politeness is a staple value employees exemplify. This is key to business especially the ones at the budding stage because this type of culture builds up the trust within the company. Consequently, this improves the productivity of employees leading the growth of the company. What’s common today among developing companies, specifically in the Philippines, is the weight companies put at building a healthy culture among the employees whereas before, it’s heavily fixated at the competition for highly-skilled employees without looking at the cultural suitability.

            In addition to that, deep ties within the company create a harmony between work and life balance just as anybody tries to achieve one. Both cultures promote this level of organizational integration as it root from the natural disposition of Japanese and Filipinos towards their families. Similarly, this kind of culture elicits positivity and pro-activeness among the employees as they constantly find a reason to have one.


Philippines tops the consumer confidence level ranking.

           It is no secret that Filipinos love to shop, so much so that the country even houses two of the largest shopping malls ever made. In the 2017 Global Consumer Confidence Index study performed by Nielsen, Filipino consumers were deemed to be the most bullish consumers in the world. This means that Filipinos were more likely to allocate their spare funds to things like new clothes, vacations, stock investments, and home improvements. As such, many retail businesses in the country, like the aforementioned shopping malls, flourish significantly. The abundance of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines makes it easier for Filipinos to spend from time to time for products of all sorts. From the suki culture of sari-sari stores and wet markets, convenience of 24/7 shops and pharmacies, up to the emotional attachment Filipinos have for shopping, Filipinos will always have a reason to spend. This consumerism makes the Philippines a haven of some sort for Japanese firms, especially the new ones in any industry.  


Filipinos hold a high regard for foreign products.

           This point, coupled with the last, ensures that international products are greatly embraced by the Filipino culture. This level of patronization although has long been perceived as somewhat an issue to the local businesses, is however a gold mine for foreign entrepreneurs. Foreign brands have flooded the major shopping malls and online markets in the country despite the fact that the income level of Filipinos is not at the very least at par with the first world countries where those brands originated. It may be attributed to the colonial mentality that has long consumed the minds and the pockets of the Filipinos but it’s just how it is. Any person tends to go for what makes him happy in the end by all means. With this, Japanese firms have nothing to lose but grab this gold mine known as the Philippines.


        Overall, the Philippine market goes overboard from its strong geographic location to the innate inclination of Filipinos towards spending. It goes without deep rationalization then that the Philippines is but a perfect investment for businessmen, specifically the Japanese on this matter.

        (Other reasons why you should expand your business to the Philippines can be found in this article.)

        Let us help you out on your venture to the pearl of the orient. PRIME Philippines, as the leading commercial real estate firm in the nation, would be more than willing to assist you in this leap towards prosperity. For more information, visit our website https://www.primephilippines.com.



Japan Japanese business, Investment, Philippines, Foreign trade, JETRO
PRIME Radar logo

Get the latest real estate insights, events and news from our newsletter

Our Expertise

Whatever your real estate service needs may be, our expert team of dedicated professionals will deliver value beyond your expectations.

Find a Property

Browse our offered available properties. We have lots or spaces that suit your requirements.

Industry Insights

Secure your competitive edge with our insights spanning various industries and competencies.

Book a Consultation

Unsure about what you need? We can help.

Social Media

Talk to Us

For general inquiries:

[email protected]

For client concerns:

[email protected]

Recruitment and hiring concerns:

[email protected]

Press and public communications:

[email protected]


Ground Floor, Pacific Century Tower #1472 - 1476, Quezon Avenue South Triangle, Quezon City, Philippines


Fourth Floor, Topaz Tower, Damosa I.T. Park, J.P. Laurel Avenue, Lanang, Davao City, Davao Del Sur, Philippines 8000


Regus - Cebu, Park Centrale, 5th Floor, Park Centrale Building Jose Maria del Mar St, cor Abad St, Cebu City 6000

© 2013 - 2020 PRIME Philippines. All Rights Reserved.