Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe on Monday pledged to launch an aggressive deregulation drive to lure foreign talent to the capital to spur economic growth and restore its reputation as Asia’s business hub.
Japan is hobbled by strict immigration policies and red tape that businesses must battle to attract skilled workers — two factors that tend to send global firms and investors into the arms of such rivals as Singapore.
“We have to import many intelligent people from abroad. We badly need young talented persons,” he said at a press conference.
By working with the central government, Masuzoe promised to relax labor regulations in a special district to be set up in the metropolis to make it easier for foreigners to live and work in Japan.
The pledge is part of his wider drive to make Tokyo a more vibrant hub for finance, health care and pharmaceutical development.
Tokyo’s initiatives come amid a general view in Japan that Tokyo has lost its appeal as an international business center after two decades of economic malaise and archaic regulations ill-suited to an era of globalization.
Masuzoe, who said he regards Singapore as Asia’s top hub for finance and pharmaceutical development, said Tokyo can shine again.
“I will bring those centers . . . back to Tokyo before 2020,” when the capital is to host the summer Olympic games, Masuzoe said.
He also pledged to amend the tax system and residential requirements to encourage more startups, including those executed by foreign students.
Masuzoe came to power in February on a platform of reform, enjoying wide-ranging support, including that from conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and labor unions.