Japan Country Profile

Passport
For more details visit Japan Passport Ranking
  • Passport Grade
    A
  • Passport Ranking
    10/198
  • Passport Score
    179.6/198
  • Visa-free Countries
    159
  • Visa-required Countries
    39
  • Access to the World's GDP
    79%
  • Access to the World's Surface Area
    63%
  • Access to the World's Population
    65%
  • Access to the Unesco Sites
    84%
Citizenship and Naturalization
Birthright citizenship (Jus Soli)
  • Birthright citizenship (Jus Soli)
    No
    No provisions
Naturalization - Standard Conditions
  • Minimum residency period
    5 years
  • Physical presence requirement
    On average, 9 months a year
  • Language test
    Yes, Japanese
  • Need to renounce original citizenship?
    Yes, unless it is impossible to renounce
  • Can minor children naturalize?
  • Can naturalized parents pass citizenship to a child born abroad?
  • Can you lose naturalization due to prolonged absence/ naturalization elsewhere?
Naturalization - Your Spouse is a Citizen
  • Living IN the country: Residency/marriage requirement
    1 year / 3 years
    Alternatively, can apply immediatey after marriage after residing in Japan for at least 3 years.
  • Living ABROAD: Marriage requirement
    Partial
    Can live abroad during the first 2 years of marriage, and then move to Japan for the final year.
  • Language test
    Yes, Japanese
  • Need to renounce original citizenship?
    Yes, unless it is impossible to renounce.
Naturalization - Other Beneficial Provisions
  • Your child is a citizen
    No provisions
  • Citizens of specific countries
    No provisions
"–": The provision has not been analysed.
Taxation
For more details visit Cost of Living
  • Taxation Type
    Residence-based
A tax resident of a country with a RESIDENCE-BASED tax system pays taxes on their WORLDWIDE income. However, if you lose tax residency status there (e.g., by moving out), the country will generally stop taxing you.

Only citizens and permanent residents are taxed on their worldwide income. Other foreigners enjoy territorial taxation (usually, for 5 years).
Schiff Sovereign's Take on Japan
If you could only visit one country before you die, we would recommend you visit Japan. 

That’s because Japan is not a regular country; it is another planet. It’s an amazing place that defies conventional thinking.

Understanding Planet Japan can take a lifetime, and even then, it’s unlikely that a Western mind can actually fully comprehend it.

For example, one critical element to understand is the military term “Die in Place.” Simply put, when a soldier is given the "Die in Place" order, there can be NO withdrawal or retreat. The position MUST be held until all enemies are destroyed, or until the soldier himself is dead. 

Japan is “Die in Place” on the national scale. 

During the WWII, they knew the war was lost, and they knew the nuclear bombs were coming, but they still chose to fight until the very end. 

Fast-forward to today, and Japan is living with a debt level that’s a whopping 250% of GDP… and spending a quarter of its tax revenue just to pay the interest. Any other country would have long ago collapsed under the weight of that burden. But Japan persists.

This is obviously an unsustainable situation, but somehow, they manage to sustain it. 

Add to that its fast aging population, an abysmally low birth rate, and an anti-immigration stance — and you have a country where there aren’t enough younger workers to replace the older generations in the workforce. Hence also Japan’s obsession with AI/robots…

It would be foolish to pretend this situation will not reach a breaking point. But we are not there yet.

On the bright side, there are plenty of interesting investment opportunities in Japan. (Remember that its stock market is one of the largest in the world.)

Currently, Japanese companies have massive cash reserves, and many of them are trading below their book value. 

On the other hand, we can’t really recommend starting a business on Planet Japan. The system is fairly rigid and not very open to foreigners. 

Still, we do have friends there who are entrepreneurs and running successful businesses. But to succeed, they basically had to become “Japanese”.

On the downside, obtaining residency in Japan is a very convoluted process, and it's pretty much impossible to become a Japanese citizen.

So, while we’d definitely recommend visiting Japan at least once in your lifetime, starting a business there or obtaining residency in the country will be rather hard to do. 

Sovereign Global Explorer

Benefiting from over a decade of our team’s boots-on-the-ground experience, Global Explorer is where your international journey begins.
Japan Overview
  • Region
    Asia
  • Capital City
    Tokyo
  • Largest City
    Tokyo
  • Currency
    Japanese yen
  • Languages
    Japanese
  • Population
    125.9 million (11th)
  • Life Expectancy
    84.8 years (4th)
  • GDP (Nominal)
    $4.3 trillion (3rd)
  • GDP/Capita
    $34,151 (36th)
Useful Data
For more details visit Cost of Living
  • Cost of Living
    Inexpensive (3/7)
  • Climate
    Comfortable (2/5)
  • Safety
    The Safest (1/7)
  • Pollution
    Clean (2/5)
  • English Proficiency
    Low (4/5)

Sovereign Global Explorer

Benefiting from over a decade of our team’s boots-on-the-ground experience, Global Explorer is where your international journey begins.

Articles featuring Japan

Trends & News

Game over, Japan

December 5, 2014 Santiago, Chile Making up the highest stratosphere in Japanese society, the samurai had quite a reputation to uphold. Beyond honor and loyalty, they had to keep up appearances by wearing only the highest quality clothing and by being seen in only the best establishments. The samurai image did not come cheap, often […]

Trends & News

Japan is so broke that its prisons are full of 80+ year old ‘felons’

‘Mrs. F.’ was 84 years old the first time she ever went to prison. Her crime? Petty shoplifting. She stole rice, strawberries, and cold medicine. She served her time. Got released. Then shoplifted again so that she’d go back to prison. She’s now 89 years old serving out another 2 ½ year sentence, not too […]

Trends & News

Meanwhile, over on Planet Japan

It was only a few days ago that the Japanese government’s Financial Services Agency published its oddly-titled “Annual Report on Ageing Society”. (Like everything in Japan, English translations often hilariously miss the mark…) This is a report that the Ministry of Finance puts out every year. And as the name implies, the report discusses the […]

Trends & News

What do the Paris riots and Japan’s lack of sex have in common?

The thick black smoke… the smell of burning rubber… overturned smoldering cars. Looters smashed out shop windows and took whatever they could carry away. Ancient landmarks were desecrated. Soldiers patrolled the wreckage as tanks are parked on the street corners. Have aliens attacked? Was a third world dictator deposed? Did the government demand the sacrifice […]

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