Japan to Significantly Ease Requirements for ‘Entertainment’ Working Visas

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Nippon Budokan in central Tokyo, where concerts by foreign artists are often held.

The govt is to significantly ease requirements for “entertainer” working visas with the aim of spurring cultural exchanges.

The move is expected to make it easier for overseas stars and little-known foreign artists alike to tour the nation.

Requirements will be eased Tuesday in conjunction with the enforcement of a revised Justice Ministry ordinance related to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law.

Currently, those hoping to secure entertainer visas must meet at least one of the following requirements: Earn at least ¥500,000 a day while in Japan during a stay not exceeding 15 days; perform at a venue with a seating capacity of at least 100 people that does not sell food or drinks; or take part in public events sponsored by the government, schools or other entities.

Following the easing of the restrictions, overseas artists will be allowed to stay in Japan for up to 30 days, allowing performers to undertake month-long tours. Furthermore, venues can include standing patrons among their customer-respective counts, and the provision of fee-based food and beverages will also be permitted, allowing foreign entertainers to perform at venues that vend alcoholic beverages.

Procedures for artists who cannot meet one of the three requirements will also be greatly simplified.

Currently, overseas performers who do not meet these standards must have “at least two years of overseas performing experience” and have made arrangements to perform at a venue with a stage measuring at least 13 square meters.

From Tuesday, these criteria will be overlooked as long as the event organizers have at least three years’ experience in hosting foreign performers and have not defaulted on related payments in the past three years.

Artists who lack a large following in Japan have traditionally had to endure long waits for documents to be screened and prepared, resulting, in some cases, in trips being postponed or cancelled. The Immigration Services Agency reportedly hopes the new criteria will attract up-and-coming foreign artists who wish to expand their activities in Japan.

Last year, 24,404 foreigners entered the country on entertainment visas, a significant uptick from the figure of 1,570 the previous year, while the coronavirus pandemic was still in full effect.

The government is said to hopeful that the expected increase in foreign entertainers will help boost the domestic economy.