Recently, as someone who has decided to make Japan my home, I began researching on investing while living in Japan. Financial independence is a recent goal to me, albeit a little late now that I am approaching my mid-30s.
Before you continue reading, I want to make sure you understand that I am not a financial advisor or a professional of any kind. Any decision you make from the information of this article will be your sole responsibility. Please keep this in mind.
With that out of the way, let’s head down this road together. This guide will cover the following topics
- Type of Investment Accounts
- The Best Securities Platform
Your Road to Financial Independence Starts Here
If you are reading this article, you are likely living in Japan or thinking of moving here. You are also likely either starting out or on the path to planning out your financial future. Like me, you've probably read a bunch of books to learn to ropes of financial adulting. Some of the books I've read and would recommend are
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
- The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins
- Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
Either way, investing while living in Japan is a critical part of achieving financial independence and creating wealth.
But here's the problem. Unless you have good Japanese language skills, the maze of financial products and investment methods unique to Japan is tricky to understand. Hell, it's hard to even for a Japanese native new to the whole thing.
Types of Investment Accounts
Before you move on, you need to understand the different investment accounts you can have in Japan. A warning is that most of these require quite a process to get set up, but that's to be expected when investing while living in Japan.
** The US does not recognize NISA as US tax-exempt, therefore NISA's usefulness is significantly limited for US citizens. You might want to skip this section if you are a US citizen.
The first, and probably the most important, one you should learn about is NISA, which stands for Nippon (Japan) Individual Savings Account. NISA is a type of tax-exempted program aimed at mid to long-term investment. Simply put, all capital gains through a NISA account will not incur tax.
To give you an idea of how you will practically use NISA to make investments, it goes something like this:
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- Register for a securities platform account
- Register for a NISA account within the platform
- When investing, choose between regular or NISA account.
In other words, your NISA (tax-exempted) account and regular (taxable) account will be separated within your securities platform.
Tax-free investment sure sounds nice, but please know there are limitations depending on which of the two types of NISA you choose.
|Regular NISA||Tsumitate NISA|
|Limit||¥1,200,000 per year||¥400,000 per year|
|Types of Investment||Stocks, Investment Trusts, ETF, REIT, ETN||Investment Trusts|
|Purchase Method||Regular purchase or tsumitate (automated monthly contribution only)||Tsumitate (automated monthly contribution only)|
|Tax Free Period||5 Years||20 Years|
There is also a type called Junior NISA, but that is for those under the age of 12. Since this guide is focused on adults, I will not be including this moving forward.
Other things to note includes:
- You can only have one NISA account even if you have multiple securities account.
- You can sell or cash out those investments anytime.
- Regular NISA will no longer be available from 2023 onwards and will be replaced by another type of NISA. I will tentatively call this New NISA. If you are doing Regular NISA, it will be automatically converted to New NISA.
- You can only open a NISA account on your own from age 20 and above, but from 2022 onwards, that age requirement has been reduced to 18.
New NISA will replace Regular NISA from 2024
As mentioned, the Regular NISA will be replaced by a new plan that does not currently have a name, but I will call it New NISA for now.
New NISA is a kind of hybrid between the Regular NISA and the Tsumitate NISA. There are two levels of investments
- Level 1 – Up to 200,000 yen a year in Tsumitate NISA method
- Level 2 – Up to 1,020,000 yen in Regular NISA method
The basic rule here is if you do level 2, you have to do level 1. However, there is no need to do level 1 to the maximum amount of 200,000 yen. The exception here is if you are already doing Regular NISA before the New NISA comes into effect, in which case, you can do level 2 without level 1.
To summarize, the investment limit for Regular NISA decreases, and a small limit of Tsumitate NISA is added to form this New NISA. The reason is that NISA exists so that more Japanese residents can hold shares for the long term and if there are too many who use Regular NISA, the holding period is shorter term compared to the 20 years of Tsumitate NISA.
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Which type of NISA should you choose?
It depends on your style of investment. Here are a few ways you can look at it.
- The total tax-free amount investable for the regular NISA amounts to ¥6m (1.2m x 5 years), while the amount for tsumitate NISA is ¥8m (0.4m x 20 years). The key point is that you can invest more tax-free with tsumitate NISA but over a longer period.
- You can make fewer types of investments with tsumitate NISA, so if you like to make short or mid-term market investments, you should maybe consider regular NISA.
- Tsumitate NISA lets you make monthly contributions to the investment trust of your choice and is more suitable for a more passive, long-term investment strategy.
So simply put, tsumitate NISA is best for those employing a long-term, dollar-cost averaging strategy, while regular NISA is for those who want to invest more within a shorter period of time.
Most of us would be most suitable for the longer term, tsumitate NISA account, which is what I signed up for. Here are a few things you want to note about how the tsumitate NISA works.
- Tsumitate NISA lets you make a max yearly contribution of ¥400,000, or ¥33,333 a month if you make equal contributions each month. This follows the calendar year, so if you start NISA in the middle of the year, you can prorate the amount. Ie. If your tsumitate NISA was set up in December 2019, you could still make a full contribution of ¥400,000 if you do so within December.
- There are limited investment trusts that tsumitate NISA can be used with. For example, you can't do tsumitate with a US fund like VTI or VO. If you wish to invest in the US index, you'll likely have to invest in a Japanese fund investing in the index. There are even Japanese wrapped versions of Vanguards funds.
It isn't a question if you should sign up for NISA; it's a no-brainer that you should. In fact, maxing out your NISA should be your first goal when investing while living in Japan. If you are unsure of which type of NISA to get, you're likely just starting, and the tsumitate NISA is what you should go for.
Can you invest one lump sum with tsumitate NISA?
The idea of tsumitate NISA is so that you can invest monthly for a cost-dollar average strategy. But, what if you want to invest the entire ¥400,000 in a single month? Can you do it?
The short answer is yes. You want to use a feature called “bonus payment”.
Just note that I have never personally used this feature in the following manner, so if you have further questions, I would suggest that you enquire with your securities platform.
When setting up your regular payments for tsumitate NISA, you can set a bonus payment that lets you invest more in certain months (up to two months). This setting is for those who receive a bonus salary on certain months of the year and wants to coincide their investment schedule with those months.
For example, if you invest ¥10,000 a month, you'll only be investing ¥120,000 a year, which is ¥280,000 short of the limit. In this case, you can set the month(s) in which you invest more, for example, ¥140,000 in July and December, to make up the full ¥400,000 limit.
So how do you invest a full ¥400,000 in one month? Technically speaking, you can't as you would still have to set a monthly investment amount to use bonus payment.
What you can do is set your monthly investment amount to ¥100, which will amount to ¥1,200 over a year. Then, set your bonus payment as ¥398,800 for the upcoming month. It's not the full ¥400,000, but pretty close.
Just note that some securities platforms do not support “bonus payment” setting, but if you are signed up with one of the big ones, you should be fine.
Once again, buying in a lump sum is not recommended since you lose the dollar-cost average strategy, but if you really want to do so, it is possible.
If you understood NISA, then iDeCo is not much different. It's another tax-exempted account. The core difference is that you can only get the money back after you reach 60. It's sometimes referred to as the J401k.
Unlike the NISA, the maximum amount isn't capped by the year but per month. Since the iDeCo is designed as an add-on to the National Pension we are all enrolled in, the amount you can contribute each month depends on the current contribution you already have. This comes down to which category you fall into.
In addition to tax free profits, iDeCo contributions actually reduce your taxable income. Read this article on how to determine your taxable income.
Maximum iDeCo contribution per month
- Category 1: Self-Employed or Students – ¥68,000
- Category 2: Company Employee – ¥12,000, ¥20,000 or ¥23,000
- Category 3: Full-Time Homemakers – ¥23,000
Most of us would fall into category 2, and when you sign up for iDeCo via your securities account, you'll get a form that has a part that your company needs to fill up.
Unless your company has a defined contribution plan, the maximum you can contribute would likely be ¥23,000 per month. Either way, you'll know once the accounting or HR department helps you fill up your form.
Similar to tsumitate NISA, you can choose the fund to contribute that amount to, although the list is pretty limited.
When you hit age 60, you can choose to take it out all at once (regarded as retirement income), periodically, or a combination of both.
Some of you might be worried that you are putting money away for a long time. But in the case of a disability, you can choose to take it out all at once, periodically, or a combination of both. In the case of your death, the full amount will be given to your next of kin as well. In some ways, this can be seen as a kind of life insurance.
There is also a monthly handling fee to use iDeCo which starts from 171 yen a month. Most popular security platforms, like Rakuten, will charge the lowest 171 yen fee.
Maxing out my tsumitate NISA and iDeCo account is the goal I work towards, about ¥56,333 a month, and what I recommend to those starting. You also want to make sure you have your investments with the highest potential returns are using those accounts.
Which Japanese Securities Platform to Choose when Investing While Living in Japan?
I assume you already have a rough strategy of how you want to invest your money, whether it's a passive boglehead style investment or dividend investment using a diversified portfolio of high dividend stocks. Either way, you'll need to understand how to execute it in Japan. There are a few ways you can invest in stocks (or bonds) in Japan, but the very first thing you should do is sign up for a securities account.
To trade stocks, funds, FX, or bonds, you need a securities platform that allows you to execute those trades. There are several securities platforms out there, and I obviously ended up using just one. But I did quite a bit of research, and I hope this can help you decide which securities platform to use.
You should choose the platform based on whether it allows you to execute your preferred strategy. Here are a few popular securities platforms in Japan
- SBI Securities (SBI証券)
- Rakuten Securities (楽天証券)
- au Kabucom Securities (auカブコム証券)
- Matsui Securities (松井証券)
- Monex Securities (マネックス証券)
- Okasan Online Securities (岡三オンライン証券)
- GMO Click Securities (GMOクリック証券)
For example, I wanted to carry out a passive, minimalist three-fund strategy with a US index, total market index, and bond index. I also wanted to execute part of it with my NISA and iDeCo account.
So, it's important for you to consider following when you sign up
- NISA support
- iDeCo support
- Availability of stocks or funds that you wish to invest in
- Usability of tools
Most security platforms are pretty much similar. You won't go wrong if you go for any of the most popular ones: SBI Securities or Rakuten Securities.
Even LINE has a securities service from within the app. However, they don't have NISA or iDeCo support and have a limited selection of stocks and funds. They do not offer a tsumitate option, which lets you automatically purchase stocks each month for a long-term dollar cost average strategy.
While user-friendliness is a plus, in the end, there are quite a number of features, like NISA or iDeCo support, necessary for long-term investors.
What about robo advisors? Robo advisors are basically platforms that help you to invest. Just put in money each month, and they would use their algorithm and expertise to invest your money into a variety of stocks and funds.
While nothing is stopping you from copying exactly the robo advisors' portfolio, what these robo advisors platforms are offering is a hassle-free investment. Robo advisors are usually very user-friendly and are great for people who want to learn nothing about investment.
What is the reason not to use them? Well, the main thing is the cost. Some of the most popular robo advisor, WealthNavi and Theo, charges a whopping 1% fee. Let's compare it to the management fee of a fund like the eMAXISSlim S&P 500 fund, which is less than a tenth of the cost, at 0.0968％. 1% might not sound like much, but compound it over decades, and it adds up.
Depending on your investment period, that difference might seem little now, but it will end up with a substantial loss in potential gains, up to the equivalent tens of thousands of dollars. But, using robo advisors is better than making absolutely no investments. It can be considered if you are an absolute beginner and not willing to invest the time needed to understand it.
Things I Learnt Along the Way Investing While Living in Japan
I ended up going with Rakuten Securities, and here are some things I found out along the way setting up and starting to invest. Once again, I have to say I'm just starting, and I don't guarantee the accuracy of this information.
If you are way more experienced than I am, please leave a comment if you have more to add or something to correct. I hope this can be a guide for future potential investors can refer to.
NISA is quick to set up while iDeCo takes some time
After getting my securities platform up and running, I got my NISA account up and running within a week or two. iDeCo takes more time as you need to register and wait for them to send you forms that your employer needs to fill up. It can take up to three months. I'm still in the midst of getting it registered and will update this article when it's done.
What are the differences between a US fund and a Japanese wrapped US fund?
This was something that I took some time to wrap my head around when learning about investing while living in Japan. What is the difference between buying a US ETF, like the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI), compared to buying a Japanese-wrapped fund, like the Rakuten US Stock Index Fund（楽天・全米株式インデックス・ファンド）which wraps the VTI.
As far as I can tell, there are a few differences. I will be using the above two funds as examples.
Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI)
- Cheapest fees (0.04%)
- Dividends are automatically paid out and taxed
- Since reinvestment of dividends has to be done manually, you can get a better picture of the market.
- Can buy and sell based on real-time market prices
- Conversion fees are incurred.
- Because fees are incurred upon each purchase, it would not be worth it unless you make a lump sum investment.
- Cannot automatically reinvest and will be troublesome for a passive investor
Rakuten US Stock Index Fund（楽天・全米株式インデックス・ファンド）
- No fees when buying and no conversion fees
- Because there are no fees when purchasing, you can invest even with small amounts, as frequently as you like.
- After setting up tsumitate (automated contributions), you can practically leave it alone. (Read: Automatic Millionaire by David Bach)
- Compared to VTI, it is performing slightly worse.
- If you are thinking of making a large one-time investment, then VTI might be more suitable.
- Higher management fees (0.162%)
- You need much less time commitment since you can pretty much automate it.
For me personally, I hold some US ETFs but have my tsumitate set up with local funds.
Taxes are tricky
First off, if you sell your investments for a profit, the capital gains are liable to be taxed within the year. This why the NISA and iDeCo accounts should be the first thing you look at, as money invested in those accounts will not be taxed.
There are technically two types of profits that will incur taxes. One is the taxes on capital gains, which refers to the profit you make when you sell a stock. And the other is on dividends, which you get when you are a holder of certain stocks or funds.
The tax rate for either one is 20.315% (15.315% income tax and 5% resident tax). It's easy to remember if you think of the taxes as about 20%.
I have written a whole other guide on capital gains tax and the various deductions you can take advantage of in Japan, so be sure to read it.
Monitoring your investment portfolio isn't streamlined
Of course, this depends on what kind of investments you own. If you own solely Japanese investment trusts or solely US stocks, then you can monitor regularly. But most apps will not support both US and Japanese funds, and you'll need separate apps to monitor both markets.
As a minimalist, I decided that consolidating all my investments into local funds is the easiest way to go about it. I personally use Yahoo Finance as well as a Google Spreadsheet.
While I can't tell you which funds to buy, I can tell you that the first thing you should do is sign up for a securities account and get NISA and iDeCo up and running.
I hope to add to this article so that new investors will have a complete guide to get started on investing while living in Japan. If you have more to contribute to this article, please leave a comment, and I'll add it in.
Tagged investment japan life
This is fascinating – I don’t live in Japan but have been there four times and still can speak some Japanese (I was conversationally fluent at one point and it still comes back to me here and there). I also had a Japanese girlfriend, whose dad was a tax accountant – as she explained to me, accountants are usually pretty well-off because tax laws in Japan are so complicated. He wrote a book on the subject too, and that really made them wealthy. I would hate to have to navigate their laws! She explained that everyone pretty much has to use an accountant because they are so complicated. She might have exagerrated some but she did seem to buy whatever she wanted with her dad’s credit card, so maybe she was right haha
Super interesting. So the pension account, you can only put about $230 in per year? That seems like hardly anything. Huh. Well, thanks for the breakdown – even if I don’t really have any reason to know, I still found it pretty interesting how this stuff works in another country. Good post!
Thank you. It’s actually $230 per month. But that is on top of the national pension which is compulsory.
Thank you very much for this article. This is literally the most informative article I have read on this subject. Could you please tell us a bit more about how to invest in index funds and bonds using Rakuten? If possible, a quick walkthrough on how to use the Rakuten iSPEED would very much appreciated.
To my knowledge, you can’t purchase funds from the iSPEED app. Here is basically what you have to do to buy on the website.
– Login to Rakuten (on desktop)
– Make sure you transferred money into your securities account if you don’t have Rakuten Bank.
– Go to the funds (投信 > 注文 > 購入 on the top menu)
– Search for your index fund
– On the chosen fund, choose one-time purchase (スポット購入) or automatic monthly purchase aka tsumitate if you have NISA set up (積立)
– Enter the amount you wish to use
Hello Alex, thanks a lot for your assistance. 😊
I followed your advice and managed to open a Rakuten Shouken account, NISA and IDECO. Now, my issue now is that, these accounts have a limit on how much you can invest per month.
I have about 2 million yen in my bank account that I would like to invest now as a lump-sum. Thereafter, I am planning to invest about ¥200,000 per month and this far exceeds the limit on the accounts you proposed. Do I need to create another separate account? Which one?
If you were in my situation, how would you go about investing this kind of money? And which indexes/ETFs would you buy?
I understand that you are not a financial advisor, but I just want to get your opinion. Of course I’m also doing my due diligence.
If the fund you want to invest exceed the limits of tax-exempted account, you can simply purchase the same fund without NISA.
Most would recommend diversifying between US and World market indexes, as well as have a percentage of bonds relatively to how close you are to retiring. I personally like the eMaxis series, but any Japanese market index funds that covers those markets is fine.
Thank you! Very informative and I’ll make good use of this as soon as I’ll move there (I’m stuck in my country even if my COE is ready due to COVID!).
A question about investment platforms: why don’t you use online low-cost brokers for your personal investments (outside iDeCo and Nisa)? Something like Interactive Brokers, Firstrade, IG, or any other JP-friendly broker?
So, I don’t buy individual stocks, but if you do, there isn’t anything to stop you from using something like Robin Hood. It only gets tricky after you live here for five years and is liable to pay taxes on capital gains.
I am referring to your response to my previous comment (the reply button does not work).
I was talking about ETFs, not individual stocks. Why do you use a bank (which usually has a quite higher cost) to trade ETFs instead of one of those low-cost brokers? Some of them offer JPY based accounts, so even moving money from your Japanese bank to these accounts should not be an issue.
Thanks for pointing out the problem with the reply. I’ll try to get it fixed.
So, Rakuten Securities is a broker like those you stated, just a Japan-based one.
I don’t own an account with the brokers you pointed out, but you might want to consider a few things
– Japan-based securities are tax compliant, while overseas broker requires manual filing
– Even if you can move money without any conversion, this doesn’t mean there is no overseas transfer fee. For Rakuten Securities, I don’t have to transfer the money even, it just takes it out of my bank account (connected to my Rakuten card) for full automation.
– Availability of the ETFs you want. Again, it depends on which ETF you want to invest in and whether it’s available.
But if the above points don’t bother you, there is no reason you can’t use any of the broker accounts you mentioned.
As a fellow expat who is just getting into this topic this was very helpful. I’m looking forward to more articles like this. Since I’m not from the US I really struggle to find information that is helpful for me too. Most of the articles I could find so far are very US specific. How do you generally gather your information on this whole topic? Do you read Japanese sites or speak with Japanese banks or do you solely go off of English-language based information on the internet?
Thanks for your comment.
As you mentioned, there is little information. I had to pull together research from both English, Japanese articles, and YouTube videos. If you understand Japanese or is willing to accept Google-translated information, then Japanese articles will certainly have more in-depth information.
This is a great guide. I really appreciate finally getting this kind of info.
Just wanted to check, if you create “specified account – withholding” on your brokerage account, does this mean you don’t need to mention your trading gains/losses when your company does your taxes for you?
Thanks again for this great info!
Thanks for reading. Once again, not a professional but it is my understanding that you do not have to report it as your securities company will do so for you if you select that account type.
hello sir., good day.. first of all i am new and basically i dont really know about investing and how to start with. As intern/trainee, do i have the previlege or slight chance to engage in investing in japan while working here?
Hey thank you so much for writing this!
I had a quick question about the two types of NISA accounts. If you were to fully invest in the regular NISA account for 5 years, after this period the money you invest would no longer be tax deductible, correct?
I am just wondering because it seems like you will be able to invest more long-term and thus get a higher profit (provided you have the funds to continuously invest the whole time).
After this period, eg. the end of 5 or 20 years, the government will consider the price at that point the purchase price, and any gains from that amount will be taxable.
The strategy is to get as much gain within the 5 or 20 years as possible, and that gain will be tax free. ie. If you invest 1,000 yen, and after 5 years it becomes 10,000 yen. The government will consider 10,000 yen the purchase price after the period is up. So if the value becomes 11,000 yen on year 6, 1,000 yen will be taxable.
Thank you for putting this together – this is the most informative English article I have found. I am also an expat looking to open a NISA and iDeCo account this year. I noticed on the SBI and Rakuten sites that there are pretty strict regulations for U.S. citizens regarding what funds you can purchase for Tsumitate NISA. Did you run into any trouble with this when you were setting up NISA account?
I’m glad it helped. I wrote it because I couldn’t find the right article for this.
I did not run into any trouble setting up Nisa on Rakuten. As long as your documents are in order and you follow the instructions carefully, you should be fine.
Such an informative article Alex! I’ve been trying to make sense of the whole IDECO and NISA the past few weeks, but this really clarified things for me. My question is:
as an American, if I open up an IDECO account will I only be able to invest in cash and insurance products? And for the regular NISA account, only individual
Japanese stocks (no mutual funds)? Thanks again for posting this article. Huge help!
There is a list of iDeCo compatible mutual funds you can invest. For example, here is the list for Rakuten Securities.
For regular NISA, you are still able to buy mutual funds, I believe.
Alex, thanks for your helpful and easy to follow article. I am new to finance and you were able to make it understandable. I just opened a tsumitate NISA account with SBI at the beginning of 2020. I would like to transfer one lump sum of 400,000 yen for this year’s full contribution. Is this possible? Or would I have to set up regular smaller monthly payments only? I can’t find an answer to this question anywhere.
Hey Sean, thanks for your questions. I added a section trying to answer your question. I hope it helps.
Thank you for this info. I am a 25year old woman(employed) and thinking of investing but don’t know where and how to start. Also I’ve been searching about iDeco and Nisa but never understood. Your article is very informative.
Ive been wanting to do investing for a year, but I have no experience and I dont know japanese, and investing is also a serious thing, so it got overwhelming and frustrating for me. Your article encouraged me to try again. Thank you.
I am a full time employee at the research institute therefore I am not sure if iDeCo is applicable for me. If its NISA, then I am considering tsumitae NISA. I am however not sure for how long do I still want to stay in Japan. In case I invest and in few years I return to Europe, what happens then and what is best to do? Thank you Alex
iDeCo would only be applicable to you if you are thinking of staying in Japan till you retire.
For NISA, all you really have to do is cash out your investments and transfer it to Europe. Same as you would with any kind of investment.
Great stuff Alex, am in very similar position to you. Expat, married to Japanese citizen and will be here for the long haul.
NISA sounds like a no-brainer and then choosing a Japanese brokerage. Am also tempted to use international brokerages like TradeStation however they need address ID in English which is impossible in Japan.
Will look into Rakuten/SBI/Monex.
NISA sounded like a no-brainer til I came across “the US does not recognise it as US tax-exempt, and so will tax gains in it annually as if an unwrapped brokerage account. Along with the PFIC tax rules, this significantly limits the usefulness of NISA accounts for US citizens, and may render a Reserve NISA account entirely useless.”
Thanks for summarizing the initial step to invest in Japan. I am completely new with this stock investment field and found it really useful.
I have a question regarding the limitation of NISA. I understand the cap is 1.2 million JPY/year transaction, let’s say I bought 0.8 mil JPY and sell 0.8 mil JPY in the same year. Total transaction will be 1.6 mil.
Does it means that 0.4 mil of the transaction will be tax incurred?
How If I want to invest more than 1.2 mil JPY but still want to make use of NISA’s advantages?
Nope. The limit refers to the amount you bought.
If your limit is 1.2m, the 0.8m you bought and sell is tax free. And you can buy another 0.4m that will also be tax free when you sell it.
Thank you so much for this informative post. I have been living in Japan for 20 years and have run into wall after wall when it comes into investing in Japan. Not that I have spent lots of research time like you as I am always so busy and also not reading the language fluently doesn`t help (Google Chrome as revolutionized my life!) but I am amazed at how few people actually invest in Japan – its just not something people think of doing or if they do, they think its only for rich businessmen! Anyway, I am currently interested in buying shares so was looking to create an online account to trade. Is this something you open through your local bank account or can you only do it through a securities account – something like rakuten securities? Excuse my ignorance but I am so new to this.
You need to open a securities account, like Rakuten Securities.
Dear Alex, this is very fascinating article and summarized very interesting facts about NISA and IDeCo.
I have a question if I can have a Regular NISA for the first 5years and once I finish Regular NISA . Can I join NISA Tsumitate?
5 years is tax-free period for normaal NISA and not the participation period. You can actually change between the two once a year if you didn’t already invest in that year.
Note that this is subject to change in 2024 once “New NISA” is announced.
Thanks for this good introduction into investing, Alex. You’re a champion.
Thanks for this guide. Wondering about the VTI pros and cons — since VTI is domiciled in the US, would you not be subject to withholding taxes at 30% from the US government? Or do brokers like IB honour the tax treaty between Japan and the USA?
30% tax is withheld at the source. IBKR would not be involved in this process. You would have to file a foreign tax credit to get those taxes back. (Not financial advice, please consult a professional)
Thanks, Alex. Great article. As a non Japanese speaker do you think it’s possible to navigate setting up an account and trade using Chrome to translate? I get put off by the hideous design of websites here! Also, if you buy a locally wrapped Japanese ETF for the US market, are there any that automatically reinvest dividends? You mentioned that if you buy a fund direct the dividends are always paid out to your account.
It might be possible if you are doing tsumitate. You could technically set it up once with the help of a friend to invest automatically. As you mention, the interface is pretty horrid but if you aren’t doing anything complicated, it should be manageable.
In Rakuten, there is an option to reinvest dividends when you set up a tsumitate. Don’t quote me, but you can generally regard it as an accumulating fund for tax purposes (meaning you only pay tax when you sell)
Thank you for this guide!
I’m wondering how the tax is charged and paid after the tax-free period is over.
Do we need to fill forms, report and pay ourselves or is the value of the tax automatically deduced from the NISA account and we don’t have to worry about the tax return process?
Also, for the New NISA, I believe you mixed the levels.
Level 1 is the 200.000 yen level on “safe” investments (similar to the current Tsumitate NISA) and Level 2 is the 1.020.000 yen level on “risky” investments (similar to the current Regular NISA). And level 1 investments are required to be able to have level 2 investments, excluding those who already have a Regular NISA account, who won’t be required to do level 1 investments.
This information is available on Japan’s FSA site (https://www.fsa.go.jp/policy/nisa2/about/nisa2024/index.html)
I believe that after the tax-free period, your funds will move automatically to the taxed account. Haven’t been investing long enough to see that in action.
Thanks for this Alex. Its 2023 and your article is indeed helpful.
I am in the process of setting up my Rakuten Securities too. However, I skipped the NISA and iDeco, but then after reading your article, I think I should, once my rakuten account got approved that is. Anyway, really appreciate this guide. I am wondering how are you doing on your investments right now. Cheers!
Last year has been pretty brutal for investments but since I am a boglehead, it does not matter. I will just keep doing the same thing.