Japan eases visa rules for Filipinos

MANILA, Philippines – The Japanese embassy in Manila clarified yesterday that Japan has not lifted the visa requirement for Filipinos but is giving multiple-entry visas to Filipinos.

The embassy made the clarification following reports that Japan had lifted its visa requirement for the Philippines.

“However, Japan has opened multiple-entry visas to Filipinos. Japan will continue to accept and deliver visa applications for Japan through accredited agencies,” it said.

Starting July 1, Filipinos could apply for multiple-entry visas to Japan, the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomed last June 12 the Japanese government’s decision to relax visa policies, saying the easing of Japan’s visa requirement is expected to boost tourism.

A Kyodo news agency report said the Japanese government had set a goal of increasing the number of visitors from Southeast Asia by 2.5 times the current level to 2 million in 2016 as part of the 2013 white paper on tourism that was adopted last June 11.

To help meet the target, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided the same day to waive visa requirements for tourists from Thailand and Malaysia and allow the issuance of multiple-entry visas for visitors from the Philippines and Vietnam.

Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe said the visa requirement for visitors from the Philippines was retained because “overstaying cases are high among Filipinos – the third after China and Korea.”

Tokyo will relax travel visa requirements for the fast-growing Southeast Asian nations as part of efforts to boost tourism to spur Japan’s economic growth.

The white paper underlined the need for the Japanese tourism industry to cater to the needs of Muslims, such as those from Indonesia and Malaysia, by offering spaces for prayers at hotels and other places, as well as catering to their dietary habits.

“We expect the easing of the requirements and introduction of multiple-entry visa facility for Filipino nationals would encourage more of our citizens to visit Japan and will create more opportunities for economic and people exchanges between our two countries,” Hernandez said in a press briefing.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said this latest development is part of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Japan Friendship and Cooperation celebrations.

An ordinary Machine-Readable Passport (MRP) that meets International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards or an ordinary IC passport is also required.

“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 statement said.


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