Japan welcomes more foreign entrepreneurs with a new one-year start-up visa

Japan has begun to seek more international entrepreneurs for the sake of its national growth and innovation. The Japanese government has decided to establish a new start-up visa that allows foreign business owners to stay for one year.

Sponsored by Tokyo Star Bank Limited, a business contest for Japan’s first foreign entrepreneurs was held in Tokyo in July. It targeted non-Japanese people, as well as Japanese people born overseas, who have set up a business in the past five years. Seven companies out of 48 passed the first round, making a presentation.

Their business ideas ranged from technology to health and food. The top prize with a 1 million yen award went to 3DNest Inc, which is owned by a Chinese entrepreneur. The company uses 3D cameras and software that allows users to see the interior of a house and the structure of a building at a low cost.

The runner-up prize of 300,000 yen was awarded to One Visa Inc., which prepares documents online for obtaining a Japanese visa. A special prize of 500,000 yen was awarded to Kawayuii Holdings Co., which provides video content that introduces Japanese know-how overseas.

The event was a networking opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs and examiners, who are investors, bank CEOs, and university professors.

The movement to increase the number of foreign entrepreneurs in Japan has been powered by the policy of the Japanese government to raise foreign investment and international competitiveness in its country. The one-year start-up visa will provide for an environment in which foreigners can easily start new businesses in Japan.

Currently, the procedure of starting a business in Japan requires an applicant to have a residency status of “business manager”. However, other requirements such having an office established at the time of their entry, employing two or more staff members, and having capital of over five million yen have become big hurdles for many foreigners.

As some municipalities have designated a national strategic special zone since 2017, they have replaced the residency status of “business manager” with the more relaxing start-up visa. Such municipalities include Fukuoka City, Tokyo, and Aichi Prefecture.

With the cooperation of national and local governments, it will become easier for foreigners to start up a business in Japan.

Why not develop a wonderful idea into a business in Japan yourself?

[Reference]Japan’s first business plan competition for foreign entrepreneurs has announced winners.
[Reference]Attract more foreign professionals
[Reference]New Economy Policy Package (2018/12/8)
[Reference]Foreign entrepreneurs pitch business ideas in Japan startup competition

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