Japan is set to make significant changes to its residency requirements, offering a warm welcome to foreign entrepreneurs and aspiring business leaders. Under a new policy expected to take effect in April 2024, foreign entrepreneurs will be allowed to stay in Japan for two years without the traditional obligations of setting up a business or making a substantial investment.
This move is aimed to attract foreign talent and stimulate entrepreneurship within the country.
Current Requirements: A Barrier to Entrepreneurship
Currently, foreign entrepreneurs must meet strict criteria, which include establishing a business location, employing at least two full-time workers, or investing five million yen ($33,000) to qualify for business management residency.
The upcoming policy change will eliminate these requirements, providing foreign entrepreneurs with a preparatory period to kickstart their business ventures.
Welcomed Change in Japan’s Immigration Landscape
Experts have hailed this move as a significant step forward, as Japan’s strict immigration policies have long been a hurdle for foreign entrepreneurs looking to establish businesses in the country.
Japan’s current global attractiveness as a destination for startup founders is relatively low, ranking 21st out of 24 countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Comparative Perspective: Asia’s Approach
Other Asian countries have already embraced more lenient approaches to welcoming foreign entrepreneurs. South Korea, for instance, obliges visa applicants to meet certain requirements, such as patent ownership and educational background, while Thailand offers a visa option for individuals with a minimum of 600,000 baht ($16,600) in personal funds, allowing them to stay for up to two years and bring their family members along.
Consolidating Programs to Promote Entrepreneurship
The Japanese government is also streamlining two separate programs aimed at promoting entrepreneurship. One of these programs, initiated in 2015, focuses on simplifying the process for foreigners to launch businesses in 13 designated special zones.
The other program enables foreign entrepreneurs to stay in Japan for up to one year with the support of local governments certified by the industry ministry.
Impact on Students and Smaller Towns
The new policy holds the potential to greatly benefit foreign students who aspire to launch businesses while continuing their education. It also offers a unique opportunity for smaller towns and cities, which have traditionally struggled to attract foreign talent, to tap into the wealth of entrepreneurial innovation.
A Bright Future for Foreign Entrepreneurs in Japan
Japan’s decision to ease residency requirements for foreign entrepreneurs marks a significant step towards fostering a more entrepreneurial and innovative environment.
With this shift, Japan aims to position itself as an attractive destination for foreign talent and promising startups, strengthening its foothold in the global entrepreneurship landscape. The stage is set for a brighter, more entrepreneurial future in Japan.