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Just as it sounds in the question. A friend wants to own a restaurant as a goal, and I'm not sure what the best words are for translating that into Japanese.

"Owner": I've seen entries in example sentences for 経営者, 事業者, and オーナー. Are they all equivalent, are there different nuances?

"Own" (transitive verb): I've seen entries for ~を経営する and ~を所有する. Same question: Are these all equivalent, are there different nuances?

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Basically 経営する means to own/run/manage (a company) and 所有する is much broader to own, which means the subject have rights to some property (land, car, etc.).

So for a privately owned company, 経営者 = オーナー (= 所有者). For a listed company, 経営者 means CEO and オーナー means stock holders (which may be controversial).

Practically

  • オーナー in such sense is used for small business like shops or restaurants. It is also possible to say things like 車のオーナー=the owner of the car.
  • 代表取締役・社長 is more commonly used for CEO of a listed company (There could be difference among those, but it is less of language issue). 経営者 is more used to denote the 'top persons' of companies (private or not) in general.

事業者 is a term mostly used in the sense of company, corporate body. Its use is restricted in specific contexts (e.g. legal). For example, when a government mentions something about mobile network, 通信事業者 is used to mean telecom companies (like Docomo or KDDI in Japan).


(added) In case of restaurants, オーナー and 経営者 are both fine. 経営者 may be preferred in cases (1) they only manage a restaurant and all the cooking is done by employees. or (2) they run a restaurant chain/multiple restaurants.

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    This may be a diversion from the intended context, but in an in person setting what about the word 店長? I feel like when it comes to the owner who also runs the shop, its usually appropriate to call them 店長 in place of their name. Perhaps this is not quite the same as an owner in a strict sense, but maybe relevant in some contexts.
    – Lucas
    May 17 at 23:37
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    @Lucas The difference is that 店長 can be an employee. The person in charge of a particular McDonalds shop is a 店長, but not オーナー (obviously not 経営者 either). I feel that オーナー is preferred for someone who runs their own restaurant. So it may be more appropriate to say 店長 has the connotation of being employed.
    – sundowner
    May 18 at 2:56
  • Regarding 事業者, it can also refer to a professional like a medical doctor or a lawyer. "医師、弁護士、公認会計士、税理士などの人も事業者になります。" (quoted from the NTA website)
    – lacton
    May 25 at 0:46
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    @lacton It is rather that 事業者 includes those people. 事業者 means business owners in tax contexts, so those self employed are all in the 事業者 category. For example a restaurant owner is a 経営者 and a 事業者 at the same time, but it is never natural to say 彼は事業者です introducing a restaurant owner.
    – sundowner
    May 25 at 8:37

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