Getting Japan visa to be much easier for Pinoys

·Kim Arveen Patria
Shoppers in the Ginza shopping district in Tokyo pictured in December 1, 2012. The sound of Mandarin-speaking tourists and the cash tills they set ringing have become rare in Tokyo's upmarket Ginza district, retailers say, since a flare-up in an island row between China and Japan

Filipinos still need to apply for a visa to travel to Japan, but the process will be much easier.

The Japanese Embassy in Manila on Tuesday announced “substantial relaxations” of visa requirements for travelers holding passports from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

“For nationals of the Philippines multiple-entry visa requirements will be substantially relaxed,” an embassy statement said, confirming earlier reports about new visa policies to boost Japan tourism.

The embassy in Manila added that “requirements for single-entry tourism visas will be relaxed to a quasi-exemption-equivalent level when applied via specified travel agencies.”

Japan is known for being strict in terms of requirements for visas and in screening tourists. Applicants have to submit numerous documents to prove their eligibility to travel.

The Japanese government has yet to announce the full details of the relaxed visa policies, including the date of its implementation.

The move is “an initial step” toward full visa exemptions for citizens of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam, which Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affair hopes to realize “as promptly as possible.”

A leading Japanese news agency in April quoted government sources as saying that arrangements are being made “to waive visas for tourists from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.”

“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, “ the Japanese Embassy said.

In June last year, Japan sent social media abuzz when it allowed multiple-entry visas for citizens from Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines.

Multiple-entry Japanese visas have previously been issued only to those traveling for commercial purposes; specialists and government officials; and immediate family members of Japan residents.

Holders of multiple-entry visas may stay in Japan for 15 days. Their visas will meanwhile expire after three years. A similar easing of visa policies applied to citizens of Vietnam.

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