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Japan immigration

Japan to ease visa rules for startup bosses

Entrepreneurs in WeWork-style shared offices will now qualify

A foreign entrepreneur works at a shared office in Osaka.

TOKYO -- Japan will soon relax eligibility requirements for business manager visas, seeking to lure talented entrepreneurs in greater numbers.

The applicant currently must have a physical office for the business here. As early as September, a business owner renting shared office space will also qualify.

Setting up an office can be difficult for foreign nationals because of burdensome rents or the need for a Japanese guarantor in certain cases. Many foreign entrepreneurs like to use shared offices to not only save money, but also mingle and network with peers.

The company will have to be less than 3 years old and registrable under the shared office space. Support from the Japan External Trade Organization will be another eligibility requirement. The business will need to have capital of at least 5 million yen ($45,365) or two full-time staffers.

About 20,000 foreigners stayed in Japan under business management visas in 2016 -- less than 1% of medium- and long-term foreign residents. Japan is also considering revising visa requirements to support those preparing to start businesses here.

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