March 2, 2016 4:00 pm JST

Japan to ease visa rules on foreign animators, designers

TOKYO -- The Japanese government has drawn up a bill aimed at easing special economic zone regulations on foreigners seeking to work as designers, animators or cosmetics professionals at Japanese companies.

     The government will decide Wednesday on the bill at the meeting of the Council on National Strategic Special Zones. The council is chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

     The move comes as the government seeks to further tap Japan's "soft power," known as "Cool Japan," in sectors such as fashion and animation, and boost cultural exports as well as the number of foreign visitors.

     The government will present the bill to revise the act on national strategic special zone at the ongoing ordinary Diet session, aiming to pass it during the current session, which runs through June 1. The government views these special zones as an integral part of its deregulatory measures to bolster Japan's economic growth.

     Under the current law, foreigners are given different visa status according to their profession, and there have so far been strict restrictions on foreigners working in certain sectors, such as fashion, animation and cooking.

     As a result, a number of foreign graduates of Japanese vocational schools have had to leave the country due to visa denials, even though they received job offers from domestic companies.

     Under the new proposal, the government clearly specifies that it will relax rules to allow foreigners to work in fashion and other industries. After the bill is passed, it will formulate visa status guidelines detailing possible scenarios for employing foreign workers in certain sectors.

     The government intends to ease visa regulations involving certain cases -- foreigners who will work as a designer at a domestic company upon graduation from a design school; foreigners who seek to work on storyboards and other design tasks at an animation studio after graduating from a Japanese animation school; or foreigners engaged in product development and other jobs at a Japanese cosmetics company after finishing a cosmetology course in Japan.

(Nikkei)

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