Japanese Government Moves Forward With Plans to Relax Visa Restrictions for Foreign Animators
posted on by Karen Ressler
The Japanese government is moving forward with plans to relax visa status regulations for foreigners seeking to get jobs in Japan after graduating from Japanese colleges or vocational schools in fields such as animation, design, or cooking.
In March, the government established the "Cool Japan Talent Raising Investigation Commission" to open communication with experts and industry professionals about the issue. Starting at the end of this month, the commission will examine each business and educational institution with the goal of changing visa requirements as early as next year.
The current Japanese visa laws have placed strict regulations on foreigners working in certain areas, including animation, fashion, and cooking. Some foreign graduates of Japanese vocational schools with job offers from Japanese companies have been denied visas that would allow them to stay in the country.
In particular, under the current regulations, graduates in certain fields usually must have exceptional knowledge or skills in order to earn a visa. For example, vocational field graduates seeking to work in the clothing industry may be able to get visas for high level jobs such as designing or merchandise planning, but not for entry-level jobs such as sewing or dying. However, some in the government are now considering a "more realistic" method of encouraging a "training period" for new employees in companies, where they will work entry-level tasks for a one- or two-year period, but will still be able to acquire a visa.
The measure is part of a revision of Japan's national strategic special zone act. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "special economic zones" are regions where regulations on certain industries, such as healthcare and agriculture, are reformed in order to promote economic growth.
The Japanese government and various countries support the "Cool Japan" program that promotes modern Japanese culture such as anime and manga abroad. The program revolves around the premise that Japan's strength in business and international affairs lies in anime, manga, films, fashion, and other fields of Japanese arts and entertainment content.