Japan's govt to facilitate residency visas for foreign entrepreneurs

JAPAN - The Justice Ministry will next month drastically relax the residency criteria for foreign nationals who establish and run companies in Japan.

Foreign businesspersons are currently given long-term residency status as investors or corporate managers on the condition that they have registered a corporate entity inside the nation. To make a corporate registration, however, a foreign national living abroad needs a certificate of residence.

Registering business entities in advance is therefore difficult unless Japanese nationals register on behalf of foreign entrepreneurs.

Starting in April, the ministry will grant residency status to investors and business managers even if they have not registered a company yet.

Residency status will be granted if the ministry can confirm, after examining relevant documents such as articles of incorporation and business plans, that the purpose of establishing an entity is to launch a business in Japan. In such cases, residency status will be initially granted for four months.

If the planned corporate registration is completed in the four-month period, the ministry will change the foreign national's status to a longer-term residency.

The ministry is aiming to encourage more investment in Japan from overseas, and intends to make the change by revising the Ordinance for Enforcement of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law.