Moving to Japan

Moving to Japan

by Jose Marc Castro on August 3, 2009

movingtojapanIMAGEJapan is a country full of contradictions, a very private culture whose produce is exported to the masses overseas, a society centered on family life, with a cutthroat business environment.  However, Japan does have one of the oldest cultures and monarchies dating back thousands of years with a way of life deeply entrenched in society.

Consisting of over 3,000 separate islands, the country is dominated by three main islands, one of which takes in Tokyo, one of the largest cities in the world with a population in the region of 30 million.  Called “The Land of the Rising Sun” , the country offers a beautiful mixture of intrigue, history and a way of life which is alien and mesmerizing to many Westerners.

Many are surprised to learn that this economic giant has between 70% and 80% of forest and mountainous unsuitable for even the simplest of agricultural industries.  It is also surprising to learn that the country encompasses 6 different climatic regions, from the Northern area with its regular snow falls, cold winters and cool summers and the Southern islands which have a subtropical climate and humid weather.

Over the last 20 years the country has opened up to both foreign visitors and foreign businesses as immigration numbers for Expats living in Japan are steadily increasing.  Many are attracted by both the prospects for the economy as well as the traditional family values which ensure that the elderly and poor receive excellent financial assistance throughout their lives.

The visa system in Japan is one of the most straight forward in the world, and once a visa (whether temporary of permanent) has been granted there is no need for renewal.  Applications for residency in the country are considered on the person’s financial background, employment prospects and ability to fund their way in the country There are certain timescales for different situations and these should be checked before applying for the paperwork. One of the posts on Japan Expat Forum last March 13, 2009, share their idea as:


”As of noon (or so) yesterday, I now have a visa stamp in my passport which bears no expiration date. Having accomplished this feat allows me to debunk a couple of the stranger myths about Japanese permanent residency that I’ve picked up along the way.

First, you obviously don’t have to be a famous celebrity or a sumo wrestler. I’m neither.

Second, you don’t have to have a Japanese spouse (although, from what I hear, that can make the application more of a formality than a hurdle).

And, lastly, you don’t have to fit the apparent high standards suggested by the examples presented on the MOFA website.

You probably *do* have to be able to show some committment to living in Japan (there are no written rules but I’ve been here over 10 years now). You probably also have to show some reason why you want to live here forever, other than simply enjoying the parties in Roppongi. We have two kids who were born here but, because Japanese citizenship only transmits by parentage, they’re both US citizens. They played a large part in the “reasons” essay I wrote as part of the application. It’s not certain which of the reasons I gave turned out to be the winner — they don’t return the paperwork with grades on each point. But you can bet they at least considered the reasons before granting the visa.

The point is that if you’re patient, stable, and have good intentions, you *can* obtain permanent residency in Japan — even if you’re just a working stiff like the rest of us.

I hope this information helps encourage others who may be thinking of applying. If anyone is in that position and has questions as to my personal process, contact me either privately or on this thread.”

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