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Japan relaxes visa rules for foreign acts

Previously, overseas acts had to earn over 500,000 yen during a maximum stay of 15 days or perform in specific 100-cap seated venues

By Lisa Henderson on 14 Aug 2023

Kei Ikuta appointed senior VP, Live Nation Japan

The Japanese government has dialled back visa requirements, making it easier for foreign artists of varying success to visit the country.

Previously, overseas acts applying for an entertainment visa had to earn over 500,000 yen ($3,500) during a maximum stay of 15 days or perform in venues with a seating capacity of 100 upwards, that do not sell food or drink.

But on 1 August, the country doubled the maximum period of stay to 30 days and changed the wording of the other stipulation. Now any venue capable of holding 100 people, seated or standing, will suffice.

In the past, foreigners who did not meet the above requirements were alternatively required to meet other conditions, such as “two or more years of overseas activity experience” and “performing on a stage of at least 13 sq. meters”. These no longer need to be met if the promoter has three years of experience organising concerts with foreign artists.

“There have been many requests [for changes] from inviting institutions involved in such events in Japan”

The changes were prompted by a recent boom in live music performances, according to Japan’s Immigration Services Agency (ISA). An ISA official told Japan Times that many players in Japan’s music industry had called for the visa requirements to be eased so more foreign artists could perform in Japan.

“There have been many requests [for changes] from inviting institutions involved in such events in Japan,” said the official. “And the change allows for activities in smaller venues, making it possible for artists who can’t arrange for big venues to perform in smaller ones. Another aspect is that it reduces the burden on applicants, and by relaxing the screening requirements, the immigration authorities can process applications more efficiently.”

Vice president of the International Promoters Alliance Japan, Masato Kitaguchi, has welcomed the relaxation of rules: “This step will give momentum to the revival of the music industry in Japan, which was hit hard by Covid-19-related restrictions.”

Kitaguchi said that by gaining more certainty in the visa application process, promoters will be better able to go about attracting more overseas spectators to their Japan events. He said it used to take many document submissions and that the screening period could be excruciatingly long.

The forthcoming issue of IQ, due out next week, will feature an in-depth look at the Japanese live music market.

 


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