The notion of planting flags, as clever as it first appears is an expensive, time-consuming and complex process."
Japan is welcoming those with good ideas, valuable skills, those with an ancestral connection, and those seeking easier immigration procedures as a frequent traveller for business. Japan, having hosted a record 28.7 million visitors in 2017 is easily one of the most popular countries to visit. In fact the Japanese government wants even more to come, having set a target of 40 million visitors visiting Japan by the year 2020. Some 70 per cent of those inbound tourists hailed from China, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. What are the smart ways that you could take navigate Japan's desire for more tourists and foreign workers?
Japan's Trusted Traveller Programme
For the business traveller, enrollment in Japan's Trusted Traveller Programme is one such strategy. Japan's Trusted Traveler Program allows the use of the automated gates to foreign business persons and eligible foreign nationals who are visiting Japan for such purposes as commercial business, sightseeing or visiting relatives using a registered user card. This program is particularly useful if you are frequently travelling through Narita, Haneda, Chubu and Kansai airports, and travel in and out of Japan at a minimum, twice per year. There are couple of user reviews on Reddit that just like other application processes (which I have featured here for citizenships), what is critical is preparation and due diligence.
The APEC Business Travel Card
An alternative to the trusted traveller programme is the APEC Business Travel Card. You may have noticed a expedited immigration lane at airports with signs for holders of the APEC Business Travel Card. This card allows business travelers pre-cleared, facilitated short-term entry to participating member economies (those member economies are those that border the Pacific Ocean and include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.) In 2018, the United States and Canada were still transitional members of the travel card scheme and do not yet offer reciprocal entry arrangements.
However, all APEC member economies offer fast-track entry and exit through designated APEC lanes at major international airports within the APEC region. Eligible applicants are typically those who are senior government officials, or directors, board members or chief executive officers of registered businesses. Each member economy is responsible for the administration of the scheme for its citizens.
Bear in mind that immigration procedures at Japanese airports are hardly an unruly affair or a place where you are likely to be stuck for a very long time anyway.
Japan has a range of visa options
But perhaps more than just cutting the queue at Japan's immigration lanes is staying in Japan for longer than a mere trip.
For example those with good business ideas can avail of Japan's one-year startup visa option. Japan is also offering a new visa program open to fourth-generation ethnic Japanese (ages 18 to 30) allowing successful applicants to live and work in Japan for five years. Japanese diaspora are spread mostly over Brazil and Peru and this may well be the source of the skilled talent for this visa. Japan is also extending its effort to make it easier for other foreigners to live and work there. From December 2017, Japan relaxed visa requirements for citizens from India. Similarly, from January 2018, Japan also relaxed visa requirements for citizen from Azerbaijan.
The global fight for talent
The international fight for labor continues and offers new opportunities to determined individuals looking to improve their lot in life, whether it simply to gain a new perspective, gain skills in a competitive workforce or to eventually migrate.
The notion of planting flags, as clever as it first appears is an expensive, time-consuming and complex process. Opening bank accounts everywhere you transit is not a fun experience and you should not collect citizenships and passports just because you can. However, knowing why you are leaving your current place of residence, knowing where you want to go and being confident in what you understand is better in focusing on where you need to be.