Japan to Further Relax Visa Restrictions on Filipinos

In a move to increase the number of tourists coming from Southeast Asia to two million by 2016 and help provide a shot in the arm to the Japanese economy, the Japanese Foreign Ministry announced that it will further ease visa requirements as soon as possible for Filipinos, Indonesians and Vietnamese nationals who wish to visit Japan. The move is part of an effort by the Japanese government aimed at increasing tourist arrivals from all over the world to 20 million in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics. 

japan relaxes filipino visa
Image Source: PhilNews.ph
According to the Japanese Embassy’s website, multiple-entry visa requirements are to be “substantially” relaxed.  Single-entry visa requirements are also said to be relaxed to a “quasi-exemption-equivalent level” if the applicant applies using designated travel agencies. No further details were released as to what these relaxations specifically entail.  However, it is believed that these are part of an initial move towards eventually granting Filipino, Indonesian and Vietnamese nationals visa-exempt travel to Japan.     

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs said that the move by the Japanese government will allow more Filipinos to tour Japan as well as provide more opportunities for people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

The announcement comes on top of already loosened visa restrictions for ASEAN passport holders that started last year.  Almost a year ago, Filipino nationals were already allowed to apply for a multiple-entry tourist visa valid for up to three years.  In the same period, Thai and Malaysian nationals also gained the ability to travel to Japan without a visa for tourism purposes.   

The past several months have also seen an increase in flights between the Philippines and Japan.  For example, Philippine Airlines now flies three times a day between Manila and Tokyo-Narita, daily between Manila and Tokyo-Haneda, and twice daily between Cebu and Tokyo-Narita.  All Nippon Airways also launched a second flight to the Philippines, this time flying between Manila and Tokyo-Haneda using a Boeing 787.  Cebu Pacific also saw the launch of its flights to Tokyo-Narita and Nagoya earlier this year with plans to launch service to more cities soon.  AirAsia Zest has also expressed interest in mounting flights between the Philippines and Japan later this year.       



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