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Japan screens foreign researchers for espionage risks

  • August 13, 2022
  • , Nikkei Asia , 6:07 a.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO — Japan has set stricter screening requirements for foreign researchers entering the country, aiming to keep sensitive research and technologies from leaking to China and elsewhere.


In order to apply for a Japanese visa, researchers and students need to obtain a certificate of eligibility from their schools and employers. The document includes such information as their purpose of travel and their planned address in Japan.


The government last year began requiring additional information from those involved in sensitive research, such as sponsors and travel histories. Applicants also need to submit past research papers and home-country work histories.


The move comes as China offers generous compensation to recruit foreign experts under its Thousand Talents plan. The U.S. and Europe are also taking steps to prevent technology leaks.


The requirement has applied to relatively few people so far as Japan has limited arrivals to combat COVID-19. Of the 150,000 foreign nationals newly entering the country in 2021, just 89 did so on research-related visas.


Japan lifted its daily cap on arrivals to 20,000 in June — a move seen leading to more researchers coming in. The government aims to raise awareness of the new requirements ahead of the expected surge.


As of the end of 2020, more than 70% of those who had obtained Japanese visas for highly skilled professionals, such as researchers and engineers, were Chinese nationals.

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