It has recently been announced that the Immigration Bureau of Japan will be upgraded from a bureau to an agency from April 2019. This move is related to the plan to introduce a new status of residence to accept more blue-collar laborers from abroad with a view to compensating the shortage in the Japanese labor force. While the national government appears to be passively introducing a new policy pressured by the industry, the local government of Fukuoka City is more actively utilizing people from abroad.
First City to Offer a Startup Visa in Japan
Fukuoka City became the first city in Japan as a National Strategic Special Zone to offer Startup Visas for foreign entrepreneurs in 2015.
The Startup Visa system permits foreign entrepreneurs to receive a six-month Business Manager Visa, which is required for foreigners intending to start a business in Japan, without fulfilling the prerequisites for a Business Manager Visa i.e. (i) opening a business office in Fukuoka and (ii) hiring two or more permanent employees, or having capital/investments exceeding ¥5,000,000.
However, the entrepreneur must submit a business plan to Fukuoka City for their review. If the city confirms that the entrepreneur is expected to fulfill the visa requirements within the six-month Startup Visa timeframe, it will issue a confirmation letter. Then the applicant should proceed to apply for a Business Manager Visa with the confirmation letter at the Fukuoka Immigration Bureau. If approved, foreign entrepreneurs are provided with six months to fulfill the standard prerequisites and complete procedures while developing their business.
Fukuoka City provides individual support through the Startup Cafe, where you can apply for a Startup Visa, to help foreign entrepreneurs in meeting the standard prerequisites so that they may be able to renew their Business Manager Visa.
Still the Leading Startup City
The Startup Visa system has been followed by six municipalities in Japan so far, but Fukuoka City maintains the position as the leading city in this regard. According to the article from Kahoku Shimpo dated December 4, 2017, the number of applicants for a Startup Visa in Fukuoka City was 38 as of November 2017, which accounts for over 60% of all the applicants in Japan, followed by 19 in Tokyo, 3 in Aichi Prefecture and 2 in Sendai City.
I will cover the other packages for entrepreneurs in Fukuoka in the next and succeeding articles.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure that the information on this article is accurate at the time of posting, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ. If you do require advice or wish to find out more about the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.