Good news for foreigners looking to start a business in Japan! In order to woo foreign businesses and give them an incentive to launch commercial operations on the land of the rising sun, the government has recently announced that it would relax its business immigration rules. Spearheaded by two key government bodies, namely the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the bill currently being drafted will allow foreigners to stay in Japan for up to a year to launch a startup.
Until now, the actual regime under which visas are managed requires a foreigner to apply for a business management visa. He would then have to open an office and hire at least two full-time employees, or have a capitalization amounting to at least $5 million yen, an investment that very few could afford. Needless to say that these requirements represent a huge hurdle to anyone who wants to start a business, especially young adults.
The initiative that goes under the name of Program to increase foreign entrepreneurs will grant the applicants a 6 months preliminary business manager visa. However, after the 6 months grace period, the applicant will be required to provide evidences that the business model is working, and that things are going smoothly. Most importantly, the conditions aforementioned will have to be fulfilled. While it is not exactly advertised that way, Japan is trying to achieve two goals: to give a boost to its economy and to attract young adults.
While the initiative gathered support and was positively welcomed by the business community, one can question its reach and its potential to be a game changer. According to Wil Schroter, the CEO & Founder of Startup.co, it takes in average 4 years to grow a successful business. In contrast, the Japanese government is offering 6 months. Under these conditions, it is clear that the challenges of building a business remains.
A step forward, indeed. But not quite yet the startup hub some wished for.