Three years ago, Tokyo resident Qi Hongqiang launched Skypechina, an online Chinese-language school, using ¥5 million borrowed from his parents back home in Hebei province, China.

The 27-year-old graduate of a Japanese university needed the cash to fulfill one main requirement for obtaining an investor/business manager visa.

"I am lucky as my parents offered me ¥5 million," Qi said at his office in Tokyo, a space measuring 10 sq. meters and full of computers and printers. "Renting office space still requires a large amount of money."