Japan’s investment agency Jetro has launched a new business support programme for Japanese and foreign businesses in the area hit by the recent earthquake. This area includes the prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba, Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi. Support is limited to companies who meet “certain conditions”.

Taku Sato, director for the Invest Japan business support centre, explained that these conditions were not especially strict, just certain basic requirements to ensure that those using the support programme were those who really needed it.

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The support programme itself is effectively an offer from the Tokyo-based Jetro for both Japanese and foreign companies who have suffered from the earthquake and ensuing tsunami to use some of its office space. Mr Sato explained that the organisation had 32 extra rooms that could be used by these firms to help them get through the crisis. Companies are allowed to use the office space for five consecutive or non-consecutive business days.

He said: “After the earthquake we decided to use these spaces for companies located in affected areas. They can come use our facilities for up to five business days if they have been affected by contamination or radiation. They can come to Tokyo to test their products and take care of logistical matters.”

Mr Sato put an optimistic slant on the situation in his country, expressing confidence that businesses would stay in the country and would continue coming to Japan. He also said he believed that the situation would return to normality in the near future.

Prior to the catastrophe, Japan had been faring relatively well in its efforts to attract FDI, and had also been a consistently strong investor abroad itself.

A report from fDi Markets showed that several Japanese beverage companies had recently been exploring overseas markets. Sapporo Holdings was looking at opportunities in North America and south-east Asia. Its rival Suntory had also expressed interest in expanding in Thailand, Vietnam, China and Indonesia.