Want to move to Japan? Applying for a visa just got easier for skilled workers

Moving to Japan just got easier under a new visa system for skilled foreign workers.
Moving to Japan just got easier under a new visa system for skilled foreign workers.   -  Copyright  Canva
By Angela Symons

High-flying graduates are also targeted by Japan's simplified visa rules.

Ever dreamed of living in Japan? The country’s seamless blend of tradition and modernity alongside its beautiful nature and high wages are a draw for many foreign workers.

Gaining a work permit and visa for Japan isn’t easy - but that could be about to change.

In the hopes of boosting its economy and competitiveness, the country is looking to attract foreign workers and investers.

It has a goal of gaining 100 trillion yen (€669 million) from foreign direct investment by 2030, using the weak yen as an incentive. This is 20 per cent higher than its previous aim and around double its 2022 figure, Reuters reports.

As part of the plan, the country wants to become Asia’s biggest startup hub, boost production and research, and attract skilled workers from overseas.

Why does Japan want to attract foreign workers?

Like many European countries, Japan has an ageing population. The country’s government projects that there will be almost one elderly person for each person of working age by 2060, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The effects of this are already starting to show, with the country facing a shortage of workers. In the long term, it will be bad news for the economy.

To meet its ambitious growth targets, Japan will need to look outwards to fill this gap.

Japan currently has around 1.8 million foreign workers. It will need to boost this to almost 7 million by 2040 to keep pace with targets, according to a 2022 report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

To make itself more competitive in the wake of the pandemic, Japan has simplified its visa requirements for highly skilled professionals.

How is Japan simplifying its visa system?

From April this year, certain foreign workers are able to bypass the current points-based visa system if they fulfil certain criteria. They will also be eligible for permanent residency status after just one year instead of three.

This applies to researchers and engineers with an annual income of at least 20 million yen (€134,000) and either a Master’s degree or 10 years of work experience, according to Japanese newspaper The Mainichi. Corporate managers are required to have an income of 40 million yen (€268,000) and five years’ experience to qualify.

Entrepreneurs aiming to start a business in Japan may also be allowed to stay longer than one year under the country’s ‘start-up visa’, although details are as yet unclear.

Japan will target young graduates from overseas

Japan also hopes to lure graduates from the world’s top 100 universities, The Mainichi reports.

Positioning these young workers as ‘future creative talent’, the country will give them ‘designated activities’ residency status. This would allow them to stay and work in the country for two years as they search for jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities.

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