Japanese Corporate Bank Accounts
A Basic Overview of the Types of Banks in Japan
Opening a corporate bank account with a main mega banks are typically more difficult with other types of banks. They have more stringent procedural checks and stricter controls on approvals of new accounts. Once you have an account opened with a major bank, it is being said that it enhances your corporate image because you're have a banking relationship with and are trusted by a major bank. This is especially so in the mindset of very traditional domestic companies and Japanese businessmen.
MUFG and SMBC
MUFG and SMBC are the largest financial groups in Japan with many branches all over Tokyo and at all major train stations and airport through Japan. This banks' services fees are the most expensive. The real disadvantages of one of these two banks are they are stuck in jurassic ages when it some to their corporate Internet banking services. Both forces you to use Windows and install cumbersome certificates or devices. While these banks offer very modern Internet access for personal banking, MUFG's and SMBC's corporate Internet banking services are different apps and stuck back in the pre-2000s.
Mizuho Bank supports Mac for their corporate Internet banking services. Their service charges are a little lower than MUFG and SMBC. A interesting point to note is Mizuho's ATM system suffered a country-wide outage back in March 2011. Further, Miuzho Securities had a system glitch that cause million-dollar losses on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the past.
Resona Bank supports Mac for corporate Internet banking services. Their service charges are even lower than MUFG, SMBC and Mizuho Bank.
Tokyo Star Bank
Tokyo Star Bank is another bank worthy of mention because their inter-bank payment fees are not expensive. Further, their corporate Internet banking works on Macs too.
Local banks are banks service the specific area or prefecture outside of Tokyo.
Cooperative Regional Banks ("Shinkin" Banks)
In the United States, there are "credit unions" which are a special type of banks. In Japan, "shinkin" banks, though very different from those in the U.S., they are smaller banks which distinguishes them from the major banks. It is also much easier to open accounts with them.
Post Office Bank
JP Post Bank is a bank which offers banking services at post office branches. Its corporate Internet banking is also free of monthly fees.
Internet banks are a type of banks which operates without any physical branch. Account opening are done by mailing in the documents and all banking transactions are performed online. Fees are either free (compared to major banks) or available at very low costs.
Rakuten Bank is a pure Internet bank and has no physical branches. This is the bank you should open your corporate bank account! They offer true 24-hour Internet banking services and free of monthly charges. And in addition to that, its inter-bank payment fees is the most competitive on the market (only ¥258 per transaction) and international wire transfers can be initiated at the comfort of your home/office at most competitive costs. It is also worthy to mentioned that its corporate Internet banking web interface works very well on Macs too.
Opening a Corporate Account in Japan
To open a corporate account in Japan, you'd need to first incorporate your company. Depending on whether it is a traditional brick-and-mortar bank or an Internet bank, you either visit a branch directly or send your documents by mail. All procedures need to be completed in Japanese. A professional incorporator or experienced businessman can get this done easily. Personally, I have successfully opened corporate accounts at SMBC, Rakuten Bank, JP Post Bank and some regional/local and "shinkin" banks.
Language Interface of Internet Banking
Internet banking services are only offered in Japanese language.