Japan relaxes visa requirements for Filipinos

Posted at 06/17/2014 9:41 PM | Updated as of 06/17/2014 9:41 PM

MANILA - Following up on its earlier announcement, the Japanese government said on Tuesday it will be implementing "substantial" exemptions of visa requirements for nationals of Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.

In an announcement posted on the Japanese embassy's website, it said the relaxation of visa requirements is an initial step in the exemption of visa requirement for nationals of these 3 countries.

"Following today's meeting of the Ministerial Council on the Promotion of Japan as a Tourism-Oriented Country, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to endeavor to realize the exemption of visa requirements as promptly as possible and to implement, as an initial step, the following substantial relaxations of visa requirements for nationals of Indonesia, the Philippines and Viet Nam, in cooperation with these partner countries," it said.

The embassy said requirements will be liberalized for Filipinos applying for multiple-entry visa, as well as those applying for single-entry tourist visas.

"For nationals of the Philippines, multiple-entry visa requirements will be substantially relaxed, and requirements for single-entry tourism visas will be relaxed to a quasi-exemption-equivalent level when applied via specified travel agencies," the embassy said.

It did not elaborate.

"The details of the measures including the beginning date of application are currently under consideration," the embassy said.

"The objectives of these measures are to promote Japan as a tourism-oriented country with the even higher goal of attracting 20 million foreign visitors, to contribute to growth strategies as well as the promotion of people-to-people exchanges," the embassy added.

In an announcement made last April, the Japanese government said it was making arrangements to waive visas for tourists from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam as one of the initiatives in a revised action plan due out in June (2014) to make Japan a tourism-oriented country.

The initiative, which is aimed at drawing more tourists from Southeast Asia, including the Muslim population in the region, is envisioned as Japan seeks to achieve its goal of increasing the annual number of foreign visitors to 20 million in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Japanese government earlier decided to waive visa requirements for tourists from Thailand and Malaysia and allow the issuance of multiple-entry visas for visitors from both the Philippines and Vietnam, starting this summer.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said the decision "will encourage more Filipinos to travel to Japan and recreate more opportunities for people-to-people exchange between our two countries."

The move is aimed at increasing visitors from Southeast Asia by 2.5 times the current level to 2 million in 2016, which would help boost Japan's economy.

Of about 8.37 million foreign visitors to Japan in 2012, 780,000 were from Southeast Asia. -- with a report from Kyodo News