Move applauded by industry members as a boon for e-sports in Japan.
There are a handful of jobs that quickly spring to mind for which foreigners can obtain a Japanese work visa. Language instructor is by far the most common, but skilled positions in banking and finance, as well as certain engineering disciplines, are also viable avenues by which to secure the legal right to work in the country.
Now, though, there seems to be one other way to score a Japanese visa: being really, really good at video games.
In January, DetonatioN Gaming, an e-sports team based in Chiba Prefecture, welcomed Ki Hon Han and Sang Ho Yun to its roster. The League of Legends specialists, who go by Eternal and Catch professionally, are Korean nationals, and so in order to live and work full-time in Japan the pair need visas.
▼ Han (left) and Yun (right)
As of this week, though, that’s just they have. On March 30, the Japan eSports Federation announced that Han and Yun have been granted Category 3 entertainment visas by the Ministry of Justice. The certification is the same as that given to foreign professional athletes attached to Japanese sports teams.
In publicizing the development, the Japan eSports Federation lauded the Ministry of Justice’s decision, calling it “A historic event that officially recognizes professional e-sports players as being equal in status to competitors in other sports.” It went on to say that the increased freedom of mobility for pro gamers would not only be beneficial to the Japanese e-sports sector (which lags behind many of its counterparts elsewhere in Asia and the West), but that it would contribute to a higher level of worldwide competitive standards.