Thursday, June 27, 2013

New Japan visa rules for Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia passports

Japan has relaxed visa rules for some selected Southeast Asia countries as a bid to boast tourism in Japan. From 1 July 2013, citizens of Philippines and Vietnam will be able to apply for multiple-entry visas for short-term trips to Japan while visa requirements for citizens of Thailand and Malaysia have been lifted for short-term stays.

"In celebration of the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, the Government of Japan has decided to begin issuance from July 1, of multiple entry visas for short-term stay to nationals of the Republic of the Philippines (ordinary passport holders) who reside in their home country" said Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in a press release Tuesday, June 25. "The further development of Japan-Philippines exchange is expected as a result of the issuance of multiple entry visas, including increases in the number of tourist from the Philippines who visit Japan and the enhancement of the ease of business transactions between the two countries."

The Filipino and Vietnamese applicants should have a Machine-Readable passport (MRP) meeting International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards or an ordinary IC passport. The multiple-entry visas will allow them to stay in Japan for a period of 15 days, and the visas will be valid for up to 3 years.

On the other hand, length of stay for Indonesia citizens is extended from 15 days to up to 30 days. Indonesians are already eligible for multiple-entry Japan visas for short-term stays.

Before this rules were relaxed, Japan issued multiple-entry visas only to businessmen, artists, and specialists, as well as immediate family members of Japanese residents.

Thailand and Malaysia citizens will be able to enter Japan for short term without visa. For Malaysia, citizens must have an ordinary IC passport to use this privilege; those who do not have an IC passport will still be encouraged to apply for a visa.

Only Southeast Asia citizens who could enter Japan without visa was Brunei and Singapore citizens before the changes.

Japan is targeting 10 million tourists this 2013. The Japan Times reported that visitors from the Philippines rose 28.2% in the period of January to April this year, compared to the same period last year.

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