Japan relaxes visa rules for Pinoys


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(UPDATE) Starting July 1, Filipinos and other ASEAN citizens can apply for multiple-entry visas for short-term trips to Japan

Cherry blossoms photo by EPA/Everett Kennedy Brown

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Starting July 1, Filipinos can apply for multiple-entry visas for short-term trips to Japan, part of the East Asian country’s relaxed visa rules for select Southeast Asian countries.

“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,” the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a news release Tuesday, June 25.

The MOFA release said applicants will have to meet “certain conditions.” They will also be required to have machine-readable passports that meet the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), or an ordinary IC passport.

The multiple-entry visas will allow Filipinos to stay in Japan for a period of 15 days, and the visas will be valid for up to 3 years.

“The further development of Japan-Philippines exchange is expected as a result of the issuance of multiple entry visas, including increase in the number of tourists from the Philippines who visit Japan and the enhancement of the ease of business transactions between the two countries,” the MOFA said.

“Japan will continue to accept and deliver Visa applications for Japan through accredited agencies,” the Japanese Embassy in Manila said in a news release Thursday, June 27.

The Embassy release also refuted a story circulating on social media that said the Japan visa has been waived.

Citizens of Vietnam will also be granted the privilege, while Indonesians, who are already eligible for multiple-entry visas for short-term stays, will have their lengths of stay extended from 15 days to up to 30 days.\

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

Lifted for Thais, Malaysians

Visa requirements for citizens of Thailand and Malaysia, meanwhile, have been lifted for short-term stays.

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.

In the case of Thailand, there will be no visa requirements for Thai citizens who will visit Japan for 15 days or less; for trips longer than 15 days, visas will still be required.

Prior to this, only citizens of Brunei and Singapore were allowed to enter Japan without a visa.

These relaxed visa requirements are part of Japan’s measures to increase tourism traffic, and are part of the commemoration of the 40th year of Japan’s engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Said the MOFA: “Through the years, ASEAN and Japan have forged close cooperation towards peace, stability, development and prosperity in Asia. They have established close business partnership with total bilateral trade amounting to 248 billion US dollars in 2011. ASEAN Member States are major foreign direct investment destinations for Japanese enterprises.”

“For 2013, Japan and ASEAN Member States plan to carry out exchange projects in a wide range of fields, including political dialogue, economy, culture, youth, and tourism,” the MOFA added.

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. – KD Suarez/Rappler.com

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