Panel eyes letting rich foreigners stay for long periods


A government panel discussing measures to boost tourism has drawn up an interim report proposing a new type of entry qualification that would allow wealthy foreigners to stay in the country for several years.

Based on the interim report compiled Monday, the panel will release a final report next month for submission to a ministerial forum on tourism.

Currently, Japan allows foreigners to stay in the country for long durations only for the purposes of business and study.

Australia and Malaysia, meanwhile, have entry qualifications allowing foreigners to stay for several years if they meet certain conditions — including their total assets and ages — even if their stays are not business- or study-related.

The government will set details of the planned new entry qualification while studying the two countries’ systems.

In the interim report, the panel also called for a study on expanding the scope of products covered by the consumption tax refund program for foreign visitors, possibly to include cosmetics and food.

It hopes to include the change in the government’s fiscal 2014 tax system reform package.

  • Masa Chekov

    They need to encourage more skilled permanent residents, who needs long term tourists?

    • Glen Douglas Brügge

      Well put. I assume it’s the idea that “they will pump money into the economy.” Which any idiot can tell you is not much of a strategy for economic revival – unlike the promotion of an easier in for skilled foreign works that have skills and value to add to Japan’s economy.

      • JTCommentor

        Its not a strategy for economic revival, of course, but for many countries (including Japan) the tourism industry is very important. It does pump money into the economy, it is a valid industry for the government to focus on. This particular group of rich long term tourists present little risks, and bring a new income stream to the portfolio of income streams that Japan has, and shouldn’t be dismissed. It’s an easy win, low hanging fruit, so to speak.

        I don’t see any reason why they cant focus on both, but it makes sense to pick the low hanging fruit first. In this way, I see it as a good sign of things to come for Japan opening up more to foreigners.

    • JTCommentor

      I don’t know… Rich foreigners living in Japan (presumably living well if they are wealthy) but with no work rights need money. Where do they get that money? Either income from investments abroad or just bringing across foreign capital. Get enough rich foreigners doing that and you have a steady stream of foreign capital being pumped into the Japanese economy (as well as the snip of consumption tax on every purchase they make). Also, obviously, this demographic has a much lower risk of an overstay or working illegally.

      If I am the Japanese government, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

  • Jason Pierre

    If Japan wants to really build its tourism industry, and really get people to visit Japan, they need to start with the garbage spewing from its politicians mouths. It needs to educate Japanese society that while foreigners admire and love Japanese culture and traditions, they are not Japanese. Meaning that barring foreigners from establishments, because of their appearance is not the way to attract visitors. Countries that have successful tourism industries, have them because they do not judge those who come to visit. They accept them and their differences openly.

    • JTCommentor

      There are plenty of articles on Hashimoto on this website, which might be a better place to post your critique of the garbage coming out of his mouth.

      As for your second point, I guess you have never been an Asian travelling in the west. Many a time I have had very rude comments against me simply because of my race, and this coming from so called successful tourist countries (Australia, for example). Or try being an American travelling in France (or anywhere). Or Japanese and travelling in China. The list goes on. The fact is that prejudice exists everywhere, Japan is not unique in that. Its a beautiful ideal to think that some countries accept everyone equally and embrace them, but if such a country exists (perhaps Canada is on the short list), it is certainly in the minority.

    • Eoghan Hughes

      What establishments have you been barred from based on your appearance, Jason? I’ve lived here for years, and I don’t think this has ever happened to me.

      If, of course, you are talking about the lack of facilities available in English, well — I agree with you. But this does not seem like a problem that can be changed by “educating the Japanese better”, since no amount of improvement in the English education system would ever convince museums and the like to just get their Japanese employees to produce full English pamphlets…

  • Armand Vaquer

    It sounds like an invitation to “tourism class warfare.” If you have money, you can stay as long as you want. If you don’t have money, 90 days, kiddo!

    • JTCommentor

      Good point – it is a form of discrimination I guess. But no more than identifying countries with bad visa compliance records and then vetting applications from nationals of those countries more than those with good compliance records. Every country does this, and that’s OK – resources are limited, so use them where they will be most effective. Tourists who meet certain “richness” criteria are obviously less likely to overstay a visa or work illegally so in that sense they are lower risk than those without much money.

    • Masa Chekov

      This is different than the status quo… How? Richer people always have an advantage in mobility all over the world. In many countries (including the US) you can outright buy permanent residence.

      I’m not disagreeing with you, don’t get me wrong…