The Immigration Services Agency is considering easing the requirements for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain residency in Japan, government sources said Monday.

The move is aimed at revitalizing the domestic economy by making it easier for foreign nationals to set up businesses in Japan.

Specifically, the agency plans to allow foreign nationals to stay in Japan for two years as a preparation period for starting a business if they have certified business plans and meet other conditions, even if they do not have a place of business or capital funds, according to the sources.

Currently, if foreign nationals hope to obtain a residence status enabling them to start a business, they must secure a place of business and have two or more full-time employees or a capital fund of at least ¥5 million ($33,000). These requirements are considered difficult to meet for foreign nationals without financial strength.

In 2015, the government introduced a six-month residence program for non-Japanese preparing to start a business, but it was limited to national strategic special zones such as Tokyo and the city of Fukuoka.

In 2018, another program was launched to allow foreign nationals to stay for up to one year with the support of local governments certified by the industry ministry. The program has been implemented in Hokkaido, the city of Sendai, Aichi and Hyogo prefectures and elsewhere.

The Immigration Services Agency hopes to integrate these programs and expand their coverage nationwide. Aiming to revise related ministerial ordinances by the end of fiscal 2024, which begins in April, it will coordinate with related ministries and other agencies.

According to the agency, the number of foreign nationals staying in Japan with a residence status enabling them to engage in business management totaled some 35,000 as of June this year, up by some 7,800 from the level at the end of 2019.