Japan to Ease Residency Rules for Foreign Entrepreneurs

Japan’s Immigration Services Agency is considering easing requirements for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain residency status in the country, government sources said. The intention of the move is to improve their economy by making it easy for foreigners to build businesses in Japan.

The sources state that the agency plans to provide foreigners with a two-year visa to remain in Japan while they prepare to launch a business, provided they meet certain requirements and have verified business plans. This visa will be granted even in the absence of a location for business or capital funds.

If a foreigner wants to obtain residency status for starting a business, they must secure a place of business, have two or more full-time employees, or have a capital fund of at least 5 million yen (RM157.9k). These requirements are considered difficult for foreigners without financial strength to meet.

In 2015, the government launched a six-month residency program. However, it was only available in national strategic special zones like Tokyo and Fukuoka for non-Japanese individuals getting ready to launch a business.

Taito City, located in Tokyo, Japan (Image: DLKR)

In 2018, another program was introduced to welcome international visitors for up to a whole year, with the support of local governments certified by the industry ministry. This program has been successfully launched in places like Hokkaido, the cities of Sendai, the central prefecture of Aichi, the western prefecture of Hyogo, and many more.

The Immigration Services Agency hopes to unify and expand these programs nationwide. By the end of fiscal 2024, they plan to revise ministerial ordinances in coordination with related ministries and agencies.

As of June this year, the number of foreign nationals enjoying this opportunity in Japan has reached around 35,000, a significant increase of approximately 7,800 compared to the end of 2019.

“The biggest challenge is the language,” Monna, who runs Kauche, a Japanese startup that develops applications for e-commerce, said. “If you can’t speak Japanese, you cannot even complete the incorporation procedures.”

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