ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Japan immigration

Japan dangles 2-year visas for aspiring student entrepreneurs

In hunt for foreign talent, Tokyo provides grace period to get startups going

University students in Japan celebrate before going on job searches. Tokyo will allow a two-year window to foreign graduates wishing to build a new business.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan will offer a visa lasting up to two years for graduating university students who plan to start a business in the country, in an effort to attract more ambitious and talented individuals.

To qualify for the transitional status, foreign students need to graduate from one of roughly 40 universities including the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University and receive a recommendation from their schools based on their resumes and business plans.

The qualifying schools are part of a government initiative to globalize Japan's universities and help foreign students find jobs. Applications will open shortly.

Foreign students wishing to start a business in Japan are typically required to obtain a new visa as a business manager immediately after graduation or go home. But that visa requires a business to have an office, employ at least two workers and possess at least 5 million yen ($47,800) in capital. This has deterred would-be entrepreneurs.

As a solution, Japan began offering a one-year transition period to foreign graduates in limited parts of Japan in fiscal 2018.

"The program is geographically limited, and one year is still too short a time to start a new business," one critic said.

The Justice Ministry said 560 people transitioned from a student visa to a business manager visa in 2018. Entrepreneurs likely made up only a small portion of that number.

Japanese universities hosted a record high of about 140,000 foreign students as of May 2019, the Japan Student Services Organization said.

The coronavirus has hindered such exchanges for now, with Japan imposing travel restrictions on individuals from 159 countries and regions as of Monday. Fewer than 100,000 new foreign students entered Japan in the January-June period, down by more than 50,000 from a year prior.

But Japan thinks the heated global competition for talent will resume once the pandemic is under control. Tokyo wants a head start on wooing would-be entrepreneurs through its new transitional visa.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more