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JAPAN RELAXES PERMANENT RESIDENCE VISAS

Easier permanent residence requirements will translate into higher demand for property in the near future.

Photography by Jan Yong

Japan has just made it easier to gain permanent residence for highly skilled workers based on a new points system. Due to demographic pressures – low birth rate causing labour shortage – the Land of the Rising Sun has cut the residence requirement period for eligible foreign professionals from between 5 – 10 years to 1 -3 years. The fast-track system took effect beginning March 2017.

Analysts are predicting that the move will encourage more foreigners to seek work in Japan and settle down there, resulting in higher demand for property. In particular, young Chinese from China Mainland are expected to apply in record numbers due to their geographical proximity, language similarities (written), and the Chinese love affair with all things Japanese especially the cleanliness, unique culture, food, high tech gadgets, first class service and educational opportunities.

Japan is already home to 674,879 Chinese, accounting for one third of over 1 million foreigners working in Japan. Notwithstanding a history of animosity between the 2 countries due to Japanese atrocities in China during World War 2, the younger generation is seduced by the Japanese culture and lifestyle. Some 6.4 million Chinese visited Japan in 2016 alone, up 27.6% y-o-y, according to reports.

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2016 also saw a 103% y-o-y increase in Chinese buyer enquiries for Japan property on Juwai.com, following a 117% y-o-y growth charted the year before in 2015 due mainly to the 2020 ‘Olympic-inspired’ demand and the high quality of Japanese properties, excellent management and all-round favourable environment.

EDUCATION-DRIVEN DEMAND

Another factor that could spur more foreigners taking up permanent residency in Japan is the educational opportunities offered. The Japanese government is trying to attract 300,000 foreign students by 2020 under its G30 project. Demand for rental accommodation is anticipated to rise as a result. If the students stay on to take up employment and thereafter become permanent residents, they would create more demand for owner-occupied properties. In summary, this new visa relaxation is a win-win for both Japan and highly skilled foreigners.

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