Japan is set to launch a digital nomad visa scheme for those earning at least ¥10 million (€62,860).
The Japanese Immigration Services Agency (ISA) announced the new scheme last week, allowing skilled teleworkers to spend up to six months in Japan, earning and sightseeing at the same time. Currently, under tourist visas, it is possible to stay only 90 days, and no work may be undertaken during that time.
The new status has been tailored according to surveys of digital nomads, of which there are estimated to be around 35 million around the globe. It includes self-employed people as well as remote employees from a range of 49 countries and territories, who will be eligible to stay in Japan under the “specified activities” visa category.
Workers and their families eligible
Due for approval pending public consultation, the programme would embrace a huge raft of different types of earner, from consultants, to high-earning freelancers, to Youtubers and influencers.
Any such worker from a country where a tax treaty is in place or a short-term visa agreement already exists with Japan would be able to take advantage of the status. That includes U.S. citizens, as well as those from Australia and Singapore. People from all EU countries would also be welcome, along with citizens Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Türkiye and the UK.
What’s more, if approved, the roaming workers would be permitted to bring family members with them, as long as they are all covered by private health insurance.
Combatting an aging population
While more than two million foreign nationals currently work in Japan, the country is seeking to further enhance its economy, its innovation culture and its international competitiveness, all of which are widely seen to be threatened by an ageing population.
Japan is not the only country looking at such measures. Another example is Indonesia, which introduced a similar scheme in 2022, as it sought to transition its economy away from short term tourism and more towards longer stays and more sustainable activities.
If passed Japan will become a member of a set of around 50 nations worldwide that currently issue digital nomad visas. Conditions and the permitted period of stay varies from place to place. Those seeking to experience South Korea can stay for up to two years under current rules. Taiwan allows an even longer period of three years, beyond which it’s possible to make an application to stay on permanently.