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Economy

Japan eyes looser visa requirements for special zones

TOKYO -- The government will consider allowing foreign would-be entrepreneurs as well as those offering housekeeping and child care services to live in Japan, part of a program to admit more foreign workers in six special zones.

     The program is expected to be introduced in special deregulation zones designated by the government this spring, including parts of greater Tokyo, greater Osaka and Fukuoka.

     Foreigners planning to launch businesses now face high hurdles to enter the country, because they need to first secure offices in Japan and meet other requirements. In the special zones, such individuals may qualify to live in Japan for several years if they submit business plans and other documentation. And visa requirements may be eased for foreigners hoping to work at startups established by Japanese nationals.

     Plans also call for relaxing visa conditions for foreigners handling housekeeping and child-rearing in the special zones. Under current rules, unskilled workers generally cannot work in Japan. The government believes that women will have more opportunities to pursue careers if they have the option of employing such workers.

     The proposal to ease visa requirements is expected to be submitted Monday to a government panel on special zones. The government will then consider the matter with an eye toward including it in the growth strategy due out next month.

(Nikkei)

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