TOKYO - President Benigno Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed the relaxation of visa requirements for Filipinos visiting Japan.
Emerging from their summit meeting, Aquino thanked Abe for "making it possible for even more Filipino tourists to visit this country, with the further relaxation of visa regulations."
"Conversely, with the sustained enthusiasm of Japanese nationals for my country's tourist spots, more of your people are finding out firsthand why it is indeed more fun in the Philippines. I thank the Japanese people for their contributions to my country's economic growth," Aquino added.
Abe, on the other hand, gave little details or explanation as to why visa issuances were only relaxed instead of scrapped as earlier reported.
"I also informed the President about the relaxation of visa requirements for the Philippines toward the promotion of human exchange. It is hoped that many tourists from the Philippines would visit Japan," Abe said.
In a statement on the Japanese embassy website last week, multiple entry visa issuances for Filipinos going to Japan, as well as single entry tourist visa issuances, will be relaxed. Single-entry tourist visas will be granted quasi-exemption status.
Filipinos comprise 10% of all foreign nationals living in Japan, and are the third largest population of foreigners.
As of December 2013, there are 206,769 Filipinos in Japan, of which 5,722 have no valid visas. Japan is also the Philippines' top trading partner.