On Monday, Fukuoka City began operating the Engineer Visa program utilizing the National Strategic Special Zone. In 2019, the city requested the central government to approve a system to shorten and clarify the examination period for foreign IT engineers’ status of residence. Whereas the normal examination period for residency status for foreign nationals takes about one to three months, the special legislation can make it shorter to about one month with the city taking part of the examination process.
This will lower the hurdle for Japanese startups based in the city to hire foreign engineers and for foreign startups to establish their base there. The first company to take advantage of the system is expected to be the Japanese subsidiary of VMO Holdings, an offshore development company in Vietnam.
Fukuoka City has long been active in attracting overseas startups and encouraging local startups to expand overseas: in 2016, the city began collaborating with the French city of Bordeaux to support drone startups, and in 2017, it signed a memorandum of understanding with Taiwan’s Taipei city to support Fukuoka startups expand overseas and vice versa. In 2017, Fukuoka City established the Fukuoka Global Startup Center to strengthen mutual startup support between the city and other countries.
In 2012, the city declared “Startup City” and then established a startup support facility called FUKUOKA Growth Next on the site of the former Daimyo Elementary School. This year, the Fukuoka Daimyo Garden City building was completed adjacent to the facility, and Fukuoka Financial Group (TSE: 8354) opened its open innovation center called GROWTH I in the terrace annex of the building.