There’s a pretty big crossover between the groups of people who love anime and the groups of people who dream of living in Japan. And while it’s definitely true that life in Japan isn’t always like the life depicted in its cartoons, it’s equally true that if you’re an anime fan, Japan can be a very cool place to live. So the Immigration Bureau of Japan is about to get a lot of Japanophiles’ hearts aflutter, as it has been announced that an upcoming overhaul of its regulations will make it possible for foreigners working in anime-related fields to obtain permanent residency rights in Japan after just one year.
Earlier this year, the bureau unveiled changes to its “points-based preferential immigration treatment for highly skilled foreign professionals” framework. Under those new rules, certain foreigners working in three fields (advanced academic research activities, advanced specialized/technical activities, and advanced business management activities), who previously needed to spend at least five years working in Japan before being considered for permanent residency, could now obtain that coveted status after just 12 months. In 2018, the Immigration Bureau will be expanding the loosened restrictions to include a fourth field: foreigners whose professional activities are related to anime, fashion, and other modern/pop culture sectors of the economy.
The goal of the program is to promote the spread of Japanese culture to the international community through the efforts of Japan-based foreigners. However, there are a couple of key factors to keep in mind:
First off, even under the new rules, permanent residency for “Cool Japan Human Resources” (as some are calling the classification) still requires at least one year working in Japan before you can apply. In other words, you’ll need to find a way to get a foot in the door of Japanese professional life before planting both feet here for good.
Secondly, while there are a lot of words in “points-based preferential immigration treatment for highly skilled foreign professionals,” don’t forget about the highly skilled part. The Japanese government isn’t going to start handing out permanent residency to each and every anime fan who wants to walk around Akihabara shooting videos to share on social media.
The Immigration Bureau evaluators look at factors including an applicant’s educational background and years of professional experience in their field, awarding a number of points for each category. Those who score 70 points can be considered for permanent residency after three years, but to be eligible after only one year, you’ll need 80 points. Also part of the evaluation process: your annual income, meaning that you’ll need to display some sort of proven earning power for your line of otaku-related business, and with an annual income of ¥25 million (US$225,000) only netting you 40 points, even that enviable salary won’t be enough to get you permanent residency all on its own.
Still, more lenient requirements are more lenient requirements, so if you’ve ever aspired to be a professional otaku in Japan, that dream is about to get a little more realistic.
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