Japan weighs shortcut to green cards for Hong Kong financial talent
Nikkei -- Jul 02
A day after China passed and enacted a new national security law to govern Hong Kong, Japanese lawmakers kicked off official discussions over ways to welcome financial talent that may be contemplating leaving the international financial hub.

At the first meeting Wednesday of a new project team established by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, experts stressed an urgent need to create a more accommodating environment for foreign professionals. The team will assemble a package of recommendations this year.

A shorter path to permanent residency and tax breaks are some of the measures on the table, as Japan seeks to raise Tokyo's status as a global financial center.

The Hong Kong law passed Tuesday is widely expected to reduce the autonomy that has made the city attractive as an international financial hub, potentially redrawing the map of Asia's finance sector and providing an opening for Tokyo to boost its own status.

The legislation is "not likely to affect financial markets right away, but I think [Hong Kong] will undoubtedly lose its position as a finance center," Shigeharu Suzuki, chairman of the Japan Securities Dealers Association, told a news conference Wednesday.

But while Japan looks to vie with rival economies such as Singapore for talent, it has not been a favored destination for finance workers. A 2017 survey by Switzerland's IMD Business School ranked Japan as 51st in terms of appeal to foreign highly-skilled personnel -- the lowest among the Asian economies covered.

Japan issues visas for highly skilled professionals based on a point system that considers such factors as education, work history and salary. Recipients can stay in the country for five years, with possible eligibility for permanent residency if they meet certain conditions.

About 21,000 visas had been approved through Japan's point system at the end of 2019, according to the Immigration Services Bureau. While issuance is picking up, critics have pointed to issues including the complexity of the system, limits on residency time and restrictions on bringing family members.

News source: Nikkei
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