Connect with us

International

Is humanity doomed because we can’t plan for the long term? Three experts discuss

Is humanity doomed because we can’t plan for the long term? Three experts discuss

Published

on

sergio souza/Unsplash, FAL

While the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are still unclear, it is certain that they are a profound shock to the systems underpinning contemporary life.

The World Bank estimates that global growth will contract by between 5% and 8% globally in 2020, and that COVID-19 will push between 71-100 million into extreme poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be hit hardest. In developed countries health, leisure, commercial, educational and work practices are being reorganised – some say for good – in order to facilitate the forms of social distancing being advocated by experts and (sometimes reluctantly) promoted by governments.

Each of us has been affected by the changes wrought by COVID-19 in different ways. For some, the period of isolation has afforded time for contemplation. How do the ways in which our societies are currently structured enable crises such as this? How might we organise them otherwise? How might we use this opportunity to address other pressing global challenges, such climate change or racism?

For others, including those deemed vulnerable or “essential workers”, such reflections may have instead been directly precipitated from a more visceral sense of their exposure to danger. Had adequate preparations been made for events such as COVID-19? Were lessons being learnt not only to manage crises such as these when they happen again, but to prevent them from happening in the first place? Is the goal of getting back to normality adequate, or should we instead be seeking to refashion normality itself?

Such profound questions are commonly prompted by major events. When our sense of normality is shattered, when our habits get disrupted, we are made more aware that the world could be otherwise. But are humans capable of enacting such lofty plans? Are we capable of planning for the long-term in a meaningful way? What barriers might exist and, perhaps more pressingly, how might we overcome them in order to create a better world?


This article is part of Conversation Insights
The Insights team generates long-form journalism derived from interdisciplinary research. The team is working with academics from different backgrounds who have been engaged in projects aimed at tackling societal and scientific challenges.


As experts from three different academic disciplines whose work considers the capacity to engage in long-term planning for unanticipated events, such as COVID-19, in different ways, our work interrogates such questions. So is humanity in fact able to successfully plan for the longterm future?

Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford, argues that our obsession with short-term planning may be a part of human nature – but possibly a surmountable one. Chris Zebrowski, an emergency governance specialist from Loughborough University, contends that our lack of preparedness, far from being natural, is a consequence of contemporary political and economic systems. Per Olsson, sustainability scientist and expert in sustainability transformations from the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, reflects on how crisis points can be used to change the future – drawing on examples from the past in order to learn how to be more resilient going into the future.

We are built this way

Robin Dunbar

COVID-19 has highlighted three key aspects of human behaviour that seem unrelated but which, in fact, arise from the same underlying psychology. One was the bizarre surge in panic buying and stockpiling of everything from food to toilet rolls. A second was the abject failure of most states to be prepared when experts had been warning governments for years that a pandemic would happen sooner or later. The third has been the exposure of the fragility of globalised supply chains. All three of these are underpinned by the same phenomenon: a strong tendency to prioritise the short term at the expense of the future.

Most animals, including humans, are notoriously bad at taking the long term consequences of their actions into account. Economists know this as the “public good dilemma”. In conservation biology, it is known as the “poacher’s dilemma” and also also, more colloquially, as “the tragedy of the commons”.

If you are a logger, should you cut down the last tree in the forest, or leave it standing? Everyone knows that if it is left standing, the forest will eventually regrow and the whole village will survive. But the dilemma for the logger is not next year, but whether he and his family will survive until tomorrow. For the logger, the economically rational thing to do is, in fact, to cut the tree down.

This is because the future is unpredictable, but whether or not you make it to tomorrow is absolutely certain. If you die of starvation today, you have no options when it comes to the future; but if you can make through to tomorrow, there is a chance that things might have improved. Economically, it’s a no-brainer. This is, in part, why we have overfishing, deforestation and climate change.

The process underpinning this is known to psychologists as discounting the future. Both animals and humans typically prefer a small reward now to a larger reward later, unless the future reward is very large. The ability to resist this temptation is dependent on the frontal pole (the bit of the brain right just above your eyes), one of whose functions is to allow us to inhibit the temptation to act without thinking of the consequences. It is this small brain region that allows (most of) us to politely leave the last slice of cake on the plate rather than wolf it down. In primates, the bigger this brain region is, the better they are at these kinds of decisions.

Our social life, and the fact that we (and other primates) can manage to live in large, stable, bonded communities depends entirely on this capacity. Primate social groups are implicit social contracts. For these groups to survive in the face of the ecological costs that group living necessarily incur, people must be able to forego some of their selfish desires in the interests of everyone else getting their fair share. If that doesn’t happen, the group will very quickly break up and disperse.

In humans, failure to inhibit greedy behaviour quickly leads to excessive inequality of resources or power. This is probably the single most common cause of civil unrest and revolution, from the French Revolution to Hong Kong today.

The same logic underpins economic globalisation. By switching production elsewhere where production costs are lower, homegrown industries can reduce their costs. The problem is that this occurs at a cost to the community, due to increased social security expenditure to pay for the now redundant employees of home industries until such time as they can find alternative employment. This is a hidden cost: the producer doesn’t notice (they can sell more cheaply than they could otherwise have done) and the shopper doesn’t notice (they can buy cheaper).

There is a simple issue of scale that feeds into this. Our natural social world is very small scale, barely village size. Once community size gets large, our interests switch from the wider community to a focus on self-interest. Society staggers on, but it becomes an unstable, increasingly fractious body liable at continual risk of fragmenting, as all historical empires have found.

Businesses provide a smaller-scale example of these effects. The average lifetime of companies in the FTSE100 index has declined dramatically in the last half-century: three-quarters have disappeared in just 30 years. The companies that have survived turn out to be those that have a long term vision, are not interested in get-rich-quick strategies to maximise returns to investors and have a vision of social benefit. Those that have gone extinct have largely been those that pursued short term strategies or those that, because of their size, lacked the structural flexibility to adapt (think holiday operator Thomas Cook).

Our natural social world is barely village-size. Rob Curran/Unsplash, FAL

Much of the problem, in the end, comes down to scale. Once a community exceeds a certain size, most of its members become strangers: we lose our sense of commitment both to others as individuals and to the communal project that society represents.

COVID-19 may be the reminder many societies need to rethink their political and economic structures into a more localised form which is closer to their constituents. Of course, these will surely need bringing together in federal superstructures, but the key here is a level of autonomous community-level government where the citizen feels they have a personal stake in the way things work.

The power of politics

Chris Zebrowski

Where size and scale is concerned, it doesn’t get much bigger than the Rideau canal. Stretching over 202 kilometres in length, the Rideau canal in Canada is regarded as one of the great engineering feats of the 19th century. Opened in 1832, the canal system was designed to act as an alternative supply route to the vital stretch of the St Lawrence river connecting Montreal and the naval base in Kingston.

The impetus for this project was the threat of resumed hostilities with the Americans following a war fought between the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies from 1812-1815. While the canal would never need to be used for its intended purpose (despite its considerable cost), it is just one example of human ingenuity being paired with significant public investment in the face of an uncertain future threat.

© Archives of Ontario
A section of the Rideau Canal, Thomas Burrowes, 1845. © Archives of Ontario

“Discounting the future” may well be a common habit. But I don’t think that this is an inevitable consequence of how our brains are wired or an enduring legacy of our primate ancestry. Our proclivity to short-termism has been socialised. It is a result of the ways we are socially and politically organised today.

Businesses prioritise short-term profits over longer term outcomes because it appeals to shareholders and lenders. Politicians dismiss long-term projects in favour of quick-fix solutions promising instant results which can feature in campaign literature that is distributed every four years.

At the same time, we are surrounded by examples of highly sophisticated, and often well-financed, tools for risk management. The major public works projects, vital social security systems, sizeable military assemblages, complex financial instruments, and elaborate insurance policies which support our contemporary way of life attest to the human capacity to plan and prepare for the future when we feel compelled to do so.

In recent months, the vital importance of emergency preparedness and response systems in managing the COVID-19 crisis has come into full public view. These are highly complex systems which employ horizon scanning, risk registers, preparedness exercises and a variety of other specialist methods to identify and plan for future emergencies before they happen. Such measures ensure that we are prepared for future events, even when we are not entirely sure when (or if) they will materialise.

While we could not predict the scale of the outbreak of COVID-19, previous coronavirus outbreaks in Asia meant we knew it was a possibility. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning about the risks of an international influenza pandemic for many years now. In the UK, the 2016 national preparedness project Exercise Cygnus made abundantly clear that the country lacked the capacity to adequately respond to a large-scale public health emergency. The danger was clearly identified. What was required to prepare for such a calamity was known. What was lacking was the political will to provide adequate investment in these vital systems.

In many western nations the ascendance of neoliberalism (and accompanying logic of austerity) has contributed to the defunding of many critical services, including emergency preparedness, upon which our safety and security depend. This is in sharp contrast to countries including China, New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam where a commitment to both preparedness and response has ensured a rapid suppression of the disease and the minimisation of its disruptive potential to lives and the economy.

While such a diagnosis may first appear to be bleak, there is good reason to find within it some hope. If the causes of short-termism are a product of the ways we are organised, then there is an opportunity for us reorganise ourselves to address them.

Recent studies suggest that the public not only recognises the risk of climate change, but are demanding urgent action be taken to stave off this existential crisis. We cannot allow the death and destruction of COVID-19 to have been in vain. In the wake of this tragedy, we must be prepared to radically rethink how we organise ourselves our societies and be prepared to take ambitious actions to ensure the security and sustainability of our species.

Our capacity to deal not only with future pandemics, but larger-scale (and perhaps not unrelated) threats including climate change will require us to exercise the human capacity for foresight and prudence in the face of future threats. It is not beyond us to do so.

How to change the world

Per Olsson

As much as short-termism and structural issues have come to play out in analyses of the pandemic, those focused on the longer term keep arguing that this is the time for change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a slew of people arguing that this is a once-in-a-generation moment for transformation. Government responses, these writers say, must drive far-reaching economic and social change relating to energy and food systems, otherwise we will be vulnerable to more crises in the future. Some go further and claim a different world is possible, a more equitable and sustainable society less obsessed with growth and consumption. But transforming multiple systems simultaneously is not an easy task, and it is worth understanding better what we already know about transformations and crisis.

History shows us that crisis does indeed create a unique chance for change.

A classic example is how the oil crisis in 1973 enabled the transition from a car-based society to a cycling nation in the Netherlands. Prior to the energy crisis there was growing opposition to cars, and a social movement emerged in response to the increasingly congested cities and the number of traffic related deaths, especially children.

Cycling is a major mode of transport in the Netherlands. Jace & Afsoon/Unsplash, FAL

Another example is the Black Death, the plague that swept Asia, Africa, and Europe in the 14th century. This led to the abolition of feudalism and the strengthening of peasants rights in Western Europe.

But while positive (large-scale) societal change can come out of crises, the consequences are not always better, more sustainable, or more just, and sometimes the changes that emerge are different from one context to another.

For example, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami affected two of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies in Sri Lanka and the Aceh province in Indonesia very differently. In the former, the armed conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam deepened and intensified by the natural disaster. In Aceh meanwhile, it resulted in a historic peace agreement between the Indonesian government and the separatists.

Some of these differences can be explained by the long histories of the conflicts. But the readiness of different groups to further their agenda, the anatomy of the crisis itself, and the actions and strategies following the initial tsunami event also have important parts to play.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the opportunities for change can be seized by self-interested movements and therefore can accelerate non-democratic tendencies. Power can be further consolidated among groups not interested in improving equity and sustainability. We see this right now in places like the Philippines and Hungary.

With many clamouring for change, what gets left out of the discussion is that the scale, speed, and quality of transformations matter. And more importantly, the specific capabilities that are needed to navigate such significant change successfully.

There is often a confusion about what kinds of actions actually make a difference and what should be done now, and by whom. The risk is that opportunities created by the crisis are missed and that efforts – with the best of intentions and all the promises of being innovative – just lead back to the pre-crisis status quo, or to a slightly improved one, or even to a radically worse one.

For example, the financial crisis of 2008 was seized on by some as a moment to transform the finance sector, but the strongest forces pushed the system back to something resembling the pre-crash status quo.


Read more: Lessons from the 2008 financial crisis for our coronavirus recovery today – Recovery podcast series part six


Systems that create inequality, insecurity, and unsustainable practices are not easily transformed. Transformation, as the word suggests, requires fundamental changes in multiple dimensions such as power, resource flows, roles, and routines. And these shifts must take place at different levels in society, from practices and behaviours, to rules and regulations, to values and worldviews. This involves changing the relationships among humans but also profoundly change the relationships between humans and nature.

We see efforts now during COVID-19 to – at least in principle – commit to these kinds of changes, with ideas once viewed as radical now being deployed by a range of different groups. In Europe, the idea of a green recovery is growing. The city of Amsterdam is considering implementing doughnut economics – an economic system that is intended to deliver ecological and human wellbeing; and universal basic income is being rolled out in Spain. All existed before the COVID-19 crisis and have been piloted in some cases, but the pandemic has put rocket boosters under the ideas.

So for those that seek to use this opportunity to create change that will ensure the long-term health, equity, and sustainability of our societies, there are some important considerations. It is critical to dissect the anatomy of the crisis and adjust actions accordingly. Such assessment should include questions about what type of multiple, interacting crises are occurring, what parts of the “status quo” are truly collapsing and what parts remain firmly in place, and who is affected by all of these changes. Another key thing to do is to identify piloted experiments that have reached a certain level of “readiness”.

It is also important to deal with inequalities and include marginalised voices to avoid transformation processes becoming dominated and co-opted by a specific set of values and interests. This also means respecting and working with the competing values that will inevitably come into conflict.

How we organise our efforts will define our systems for decades to come. Crises can be opportunities – but only if they are navigated wisely.


For you: more from our Insights series:

To hear about new Insights articles, join the hundreds of thousands of people who value The Conversation’s evidence-based news. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Robin Dunbar has received funding from European Research Council Advanced Research Grant.

Chris Zebrowski receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.

Per Olsson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Read More

Continue Reading

International

Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

Published

on

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

Read More

Continue Reading

International

Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

Published

on

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


Read More

Continue Reading

International

Another country is getting ready to launch a visa for digital nomads

Early reports are saying Japan will soon have a digital nomad visa for high-earning foreigners.

Published

on

Over the last decade, the explosion of remote work that came as a result of improved technology and the pandemic has allowed an increasing number of people to become digital nomads. 

When looked at more broadly as anyone not required to come into a fixed office but instead moves between different locations such as the home and the coffee shop, the latest estimate shows that there were more than 35 million such workers in the world by the end of 2023 while over half of those come from the United States.

Related: There is a new list of cities that are best for digital nomads

While remote work has also allowed many to move to cheaper places and travel around the world while still bringing in income, working outside of one's home country requires either dual citizenship or work authorization — the global shift toward remote work has pushed many countries to launch specific digital nomad visas to boost their economies and bring in new residents.

Japan is a very popular destination for U.S. tourists. 

Shutterstock

This popular vacation destination will soon have a nomad visa

Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Latvia and Malta are some of the countries currently offering specific visas for foreigners who want to live there while bringing in income from abroad.

More Travel:

With the exception of a few, Asian countries generally have stricter immigration laws and were much slower to launch these types of visas that some of the countries with weaker economies had as far back as 2015. As first reported by the Japan Times, the country's Immigration Services Agency ended up making the leap toward a visa for those who can earn more than ¥10 million ($68,300 USD) with income from another country.

The Japanese government has not yet worked out the specifics of how long the visa will be valid for or how much it will cost — public comment on the proposal is being accepted throughout next week. 

That said, early reports say the visa will be shorter than the typical digital nomad option that allows foreigners to live in a country for several years. The visa will reportedly be valid for six months or slightly longer but still no more than a year — along with the ability to work, this allows some to stay beyond the 90-day tourist period typically afforded to those from countries with visa-free agreements.

'Not be given a residence card of residence certificate'

While one will be able to reapply for the visa after the time runs out, this can only be done by exiting the country and being away for six months before coming back again — becoming a permanent resident on the pathway to citizenship is an entirely different process with much more strict requirements.

"Those living in Japan with the digital nomad visa will not be given a residence card or a residence certificate, which provide access to certain government benefits," reports the news outlet. "The visa cannot be renewed and must be reapplied for, with this only possible six months after leaving the countr

The visa will reportedly start in March and also allow holders to bring their spouses and families with them. To start using the visa, holders will also need to purchase private health insurance from their home country while taxes on any money one earns will also need to be paid through one's home country.

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending