A First For Japan! Ministry of Justice Issues the First Visas for Overseas Pro Gamers!

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From tech site ITMedia’s Net Labo division, a new report has come in that Japan is now preparing the way for e-sports to prosper here by offering visas for foreign pro gamers to come in to our country. The full article can be found in Japanese here and is translated below:

A First For Japan! Ministry of Justice Issues the First Visas for Overseas Pro Gamers

The Japan Pro e-Sports Federation that began official operation today, has announced as much

[Ruchiyo Fukuda, Net Labo]

It has been made clear that the first pro athlete visas (tourism visa/ #3 type) for pro gamers in Japan have been issued.

It was announced at press conference on March 30th for the newly formed Japan Pro e-Sports Federation that two South Korean players from the pro e-sports team DetonatioN Gaming have attained visas. According to a comment from the Federation, “This is a very meaningful achievement on the road to making e-sports acknowledged as sports and uplifting them to the level of traditional competition mediums; it is a historical event for Japan’s e-sports players (normally: pro gamers) to be recognized publicly as pro sports athletes much like athletes in other sports.”

Ahead of Japan, in America in 2013, pro gamers were issued athlete visas, and as a movement that lead the further popularization of e-sports, it attracted attention.

Furthermore, the founder of the federation that just started today, Nobuyuki Umezaki, is also the CEO of “DetonatioN Gaming.” “DetonatioN Gaming” has set up a gaming house in Chiba Prefecture and operates it like a dorm for shared living with other pro gamers. They’re active as the first domestic full time, salaried e-sports team that has been realized in Japan.

The article goes on with a post script which describes the process by which this new visa category came about, posting pictures of the slides from the press conference. I will briefly summarize it here.

According to the slides, South Korean pro gamers Han Ki Hoon (from DetonatioN FocusMe Eternal team) and Youn Sangho (from DetonatioN FocusMe Catch) were able to attain tourism visas of the third type at the immigration offices in Tokyo. These 3-type tourism visas are commonly called athlete visas because they are used for athletes from foreign countries to come and participate in things like soccer matches and so on. The length of stay can be for 15 days, 3 months, 6 months or 12 months, but this time for them to participate in a long league, they obtained 6 month visas.

Until now, the road for pro gamers had been to acquire working holiday visas, which apparently have very high inspection standards; student visas with working eligibility, which apparently cost a lot of money, or working visas, which apparently have very strict eligibility requirements. By obtaining athlete visas, the Federation contends that it will be easier for foreign pro gamers to stay in Japan and for the level of competition to rise to further heights.

So if you’re interested in pro gaming in Japan, this is good news for you, certainly!

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