(Summary by Stephen Bohrer of Nishimura & Asahi)
“From June 7, 2020, overseas investors may no longer be able to purchase shares of certain Japanese companies. The Japanese government passed amendments to its foreign direct investment laws that lower the government approval threshold from 10% to a mere 1% for share acquisitions of publicly traded companies that engage in a broad range of business activities deemed critical to national security, public safety, public infrastructure, or Japan’s economy (the “FDI Amendments”). The Japanese government claimed that its foreign direct investment laws required a major overhaul because it lacked legislation to effectively screen foreign direct investment to the same recent extent as other developed countries. In particular, Japan’s Ministry of Finance noted the 2018 passage of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act in the United States and European Union regulations adopted in 2019 establishing a framework for monitoring foreign direct investments as examples of how Japan’s foreign direct investment regime lagged behind international standards. As a result, practically every share acquisition by an overseas investor of a publicly traded company now deemed critical to Japan will require government approval, unless an exemption applies.
This edition of the Corporate Counselor outlines the broad reach of the FDI Amendments and the exemptions that curtail its application, and then proceeds to highlight issues that prospective overseas investors should consider through a question and answer format. Given the complexity of the FDI Amendments, decision tree diagrams are included in annexes to provide a visual flow of how the FDI Amendments apply to a transaction.