- Japan eyes a special visa for digital nomads to boost foreign consumption and return visitor numbers to pre-pandemic levels.
- Global digital nomad population: around 35 million, contributing ¥110 trillion annually.
- Challenges include visa duration and accommodating 3-6 month stays typical for digital nomads.
- Japan is considering extending stays beyond the current 90-day visa-free period for 69 countries.
Tokyo, Japan–The Japanese government is considering a special visa for digital nomads to attract the growing number of global remote workers. With many countries in Europe and elsewhere rolling out digital nomad visas, Japan hopes to enhance foreign consumption by creating a hospitable environment for highly skilled workers.
Global Digital Nomad Trends
According to The Straits Times report, digital nomads typically perform location-independent work on digital devices, including software development and website design. Based on international data, the global digital nomad population is estimated at 35 million, contributing approximately ¥110 trillion (S$1.06 trillion) in annual spending.
Challenges and Visa Arrangements
The report noted that the government’s action plan, expected to be finalized in May, aims to return the number of foreign visitors to pre-pandemic levels. This plan will discuss challenges related to introducing a digital nomad visa, including matters of visas and residential status.
The report stated that Japan currently has visa-free arrangements with 69 countries, allowing stays of up to 90 days. However, considering that about 66% of digital nomads remain in one location for three to six months, the government is contemplating a visa allowing stays exceeding 90 days.
Individuals planning to work in Japan for over 90 days must secure a working visa, generally requiring an income from a Japanese-based company. This rule excludes those earning from overseas companies.
Response to Digital Nomad Trend
In response to the digital nomad trend, various nations in Europe, and Central and South America have initiated visa programs, allowing remote workers to stay between six months and two years.
What We Think
The move by Japan to consider a dedicated visa for digital nomads aligns with the growing global trend of remote work.
This initiative not only supports skilled professionals but also aims to revitalize Japan’s economy post-pandemic. Addressing the visa challenges will be pivotal in attracting and retaining digital nomads, contributing significantly to the country’s economic growth.
Moreover, by acknowledging the changing landscape of work and travel, Japan is positioning itself favourably to tap into the potential of the remote workforce.
Learn more in the entire Straits Times report.