Panel recommends new visa status for special strategic zones

by Atsushi Kodera

Staff Writer

Expert advisers on a project to set up special strategic zones for economic growth proposed on Monday the introduction of a new visa status for foreigners who start new businesses in Japan, while promoting housekeeping and baby-sitting jobs for foreigners in the zones.

The members of the council, including Keio University professor Heizo Takenaka and Boston Consulting Group partner Reiko Akiike, proposed creating more jobs for foreign nationals to assist with household chores in an effort to boost women’s participation in the labor force by freeing them up from such work.

To encourage more foreigners to do businesses in Japan, the advisers called for the creation of a new visa status for foreigners wishing to start businesses here and for those working at startups.

“These are just initial proposals, but we will surely discuss them,” said Yoshitaka Shindo, the minister of Internal Affairs of Communications during Monday’s news conference. “And we hope to include some of the proposals in the revised economic growth strategies” that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to announce in June.

If realized, the proposals would be introduced in some of the special zones where economic growth strategies are being promoted. One of the six zones to be established will cover several municipalities in Tokyo, Chiba and Kanagawa.

As part of his strategies, Abe hopes to encourage more women to join the workforce. Many have expressed willingness to work but remain homebound due to child-rearing and household chores, experts say.

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