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3. Strengthening of SME Management Base

(3.1) Securing of Management Resources

In order to contribute to the securing of business resources needed to reinforce the business infrastructure of SMEs, such as improvement of business methods and development of technologies, the State shall take appropriate measures.

  • Support by three types of SME Support Centers: Regional SME Support Centers, Prefectural SME Support Centers, and SME / Venture Business Support Centers
  • SME / Venture Business Support Centers

These Centers provide, to SMEs and venture companies considering the public offering of stock, financial and technical assistance and high-level consulting services by experienced experts in management, finance, and legal matters. The Center also supports the Prefectural SME Support Center and the Regional SME Support Center as the core of the SME support system in regional blocks.

  • Prefectural SME Support Centers

These Centers, the core of the system of prefectural governments for support of SMEs under “the Small and Medium Enterprise Support Law”, provide counseling, implement projects for evaluating business feasibility, dispatch experts, and provide information to secure business resources such as human resources, technology, and information in response to the various needs of those who plan to start up businesses and SMEs.

  • Regional SME Support Centers

This Center is established in each broader municipal area of the country to provide local consultation services and various types of information as a supporting center that is familiar and easy to use for those who plan to start up a business and to help small enterprises with issues such as business innovation.

  • Registered Smaller Enterprise Consultant

The Registered Smaller Enterprise Consultant system sets official qualifications for SME business consultants under “the Small and Medium Enterprise Support Law”. The duration of registration of the consultant is five years. If requirements (training, practice, etc.) are satisfied, the registration is updated and the duration is extended.

  • Training program for human resource development provided by the Organization for Small and Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, JAPAN (SMRJ), etc.

SMRJ, prefectural governments, Commerce and Industry Associations, and Chambers of Commerce and Industry organize various seminars to foster personnel in charge of support for SMEs, upgrade the capability of SMEs and their employees for management and technology, and reinforce their general management ability to respond accurately to changes in the social environment.

  • Response of SMEs to the IT revolution
  • Holding of IT seminars, training, and forums / Advice and consultation concerning IT

The State shall implement IT seminars and training programs to improve awareness of IT utilization, develop relevant human resources, and hold forums to promote the smooth response of SMEs to the IT revolution by introducing cases of SMEs that have succeeded in business innovation through the introduction of IT systems.

SMRJ and the Prefectural SME Supporting Centers dispatch experts on IT introduction such as IT coordinators and SME management consultants to SMEs that are promoting IT-based systematization.

  • Support for IT system introduction

In order to promote investment in informatization by SMEs to respond to business environment changes caused by the spread and transition in information technology, governmental SME financial institutions lend necessary funds.

  • Improvement of common basic software, etc.

The State shall support the development and introduction of network systems in which SMEs that are engaged in retail, wholesale and manufacturing businesses collaborate.

  • Provision of information for IT promotion

In order to promote IT-based systematization in SMEs, the State shall provide information of measures on SME policy through the "e-SME Agency and Network," etc.

  • Facilitation of the expansion of overseas business and support for international exchange

In order to support business innovation and new business development arising from internationalization of SMEs, the State shall provide efficient overseas development information concerning overseas development of SMEs (entry into foreign markets, tie-ups and trade with foreign enterprises, etc.) and offer consultation services concerning internationalization.

  • Education and dissemination of knowledge on energy and environmental issues

SMRJ, in collaboration with the Prefectural SME Support Centers, holds seminars for SMEs to promote knowledge and education concerning energy conservation. For SMEs that are faced with environmental issues such as compliance with the Containers and Packaging Recycling Law and the Household Appliance Recycling Law, the State shall arrange for special staff at SMRJ to provide them with consulting services, and offer information on environmental issues that SMEs need by dispatching lecturers to seminars held by the Prefectural SME Support Centers.

(3.2) Promotion of Exchange, Tie-Ups and Cooperatives

In order to encourage SMEs to complement each other's business resources, the State shall encourage exchanges and tie-ups among SMEs, develop organizations for furthering business cooperatives among SMEs, subsidize projects undertaken jointly by SMEs, and take any other necessary measures.

  • Undertaking New Tie-Ups

In order to build new markets, and enhance products/services by developing a mutually complementary relationship, the State undertakes to support such mutually complementary relationship as “soft & flexible new tie-ups” among SMEs and individuals, institutes or NPOs, etc. which have a distinctive technology or business know-how or intellectual property rights.

  • Promotion of establishment of tie-up relationships among SMEs, establishment and managerial assistance of cooperatives (“Law on the Cooperative Association of Small and Medium Enterprise”, “Law Concerning the Organization of Small and Medium Enterprise Organizations”, and “Shopping District Promotion Association Law”)
  • Association system under “the Law on the Cooperative Association of Small and Medium Enterprise”

A system for SMEs to complement insufficient business resources of technology, information, human resources, etc. through establishment of an organization and a joint approach to business based on the principle of mutual aid. The Law provides for six types of associations: business cooperative associations, small business cooperative associations, fire mutual aid associations, credit cooperative associations, federations of cooperative associations, and joint enterprise cooperatives. The Law also regards the National Federation of Small Business Associations as a guidance and communication group that aims for sound development of overall SMEs including individual enterprises and tie-up organizations among voluntary groups.

  • Association system under “the Law Concerning the Organization of Small and Medium Enterprise Organizations”

The Law provides for establishment of the National Federation of Small Business Associations as an association and guidance association for SMEs. The Law also provides for cooperation associations, commercial and industrial associations, and federations of commercial and industrial associations, which are somewhat different from "cooperative associations" as "mutual aid organizations for small enterprises," because they assume that large enterprises will join them.

  • Association system under “the Shopping District Promotion Association Law”

A system for an organization of those who conduct retail commerce, service business or other business in a shopping district to implement a joint economic project or an environmental preservation project. The Law provides for shopping district promotion associations and their federations.

  • Loans for upgrading projects (Japan Small and Medium Enterprise Corporation)

Concerning SMEs that conduct projects that contribute to upgrading the structure of SMEs such as joint businesses of SMEs and collectivization of factories, stores, private and public corporations, and commercial/industrial associations that support the upgrading, JASMEC and prefectural governments jointly provide funds and implement consultation and finance by providing long-term, low-interest loans and giving consultation and advice on drafting a business plan.

(3.3) Activation of industrial Agglomeration

  • Measures for activation of SME agglomeration through “the Law on Temporary Measures concerning the Activation of Specific Small and Medium Enterprises”

In order to activate fundamental technical industries that support "manufacturing" such as parts, metal molds, and prototypes, and agglomeration of SMEs in an area such as a producing center, the State shall draw up "guidelines" that show the concept of agglomeration of specific industries and the direction of development under the Law on Temporary Measures concerning the Activation of Specific Small and Medium Enterprises. Under the guidelines, prefectural governments shall draw up an "activation plan," which sets forth the direction of development, etc. for the agglomeration of specific SME industries, and supports SMEs that are approved under an "advance plan" that complies with the "activation plan."

  • Measures for promotion of local industries

In order to promote local industries, the State shall subsidize the projects of SMEs and associations that belong to local industries such as development of new products, expansion of markets, and human resource development.

(3.4) Activation of Commercial Agglomeration

  • Measures for vitalization of city centers under the Law on Improvement and Vitalization of City Centers

The State shall support Town Management Organizations (TMO), organizations to promote activation of small and medium retail commerce approved by each municipal government under the basic plan drafted by the government, from the aspects of both hardware and software, by subsidizing project costs for improving fundamental commercial facilities and measures for vacant stores, and dispatching and fostering town managers.

(3.5) Vitalization of Small and Medium Commerce

  • Measures for vitalization of shopping districts

The State shall support shopping-district vitalization projects of shopping district vitalization associations such as improvement of commercial fundamental facilities (“hardware”) and measures for vacant stores and IT-based systematization (“software”) under the Law on the Promotion of Small and Medium Retail Business by subsidizing the project cost, dispatching experts to provide advice, and other means.

  • Measures for improving physical distribution efficiency under “the Law concerning the Promotion of Efficient Distribution Systems in Small and Medium Enterprises”

Under “the Law concerning the Promotion of Efficient Distribution Systems in Small and Medium Enterprises”, the State shall support projects of business cooperative associations to improve efficiency in distribution work, such as through improvement of joint distribution facilities through non-interest loans from SMRJ, exceptions to credit guarantees, special taxation measures, etc. The State shall also support various surveys and experimental projects of business cooperative associations to develop a system for improving distribution efficiency by dispatching experts, subsidizing project costs, and other means.

  • Measures for vitalization / enhancement of SME wholesale trade

In order to respond to the changing distribution structure and to strengthen the function of SME wholesale trade, the State supports sales by SME wholesale partnerships including other-category businesses, proposals on products or business research for streamlining distribution. In addition, in order to support building clusters of SME wholesale trade or joint facilities, SMRJ lends money at a low rate, for the short or long term.

(3.6) Measures for Labor

  • Improvement of employment management for SMEs, etc.

In order to ensure a workforce for SMEs and create good employment opportunities through their entry into new business fields, the State supports SMEs that endeavors to improve the work environment and employment management including employee benefits and welfare, which are considered to lag behind that of large enterprises, through low-interest loans and subsidies for project costs.

  • Measures for SME pensions

In order to facilitate the transfer to a new pension system after establishing a new law related to pensions for companies, the State provides pamphlets to giving important information, and researches the conditions of SME pensions through questionnaires.

(3.7) Improving Fairness of Transactions

In order to protect the profits of subcontracted companies and ensure fair trade between parent companies and subcontracted companies, the law regulates unfair trade such as delay in payment of subcontracting charges by parent companies.

(3.8) Promotion of Subcontracting SMEs

The State drafts general guidelines for promoting subcontracting SMEs that are useful for both subcontracting SMEs and parent companies. The National Association for Subcontracting Enterprises Promotion fixes up subcontracted trade and handles complaints and disputes.

(3.9) Expansion of Opportunities to Receive Orders from the State, etc.

In order to expand opportunities to receive orders from the government and other public agencies, the State annually determines “The direction of contracts of the government and other public agencies with SMEs” through the Cabinet, and based on this, implements various measures such as providing information concerning orders from the government and other public agencies.


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