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28 Jun, 2013

Thais, Malaysians to Get Visa-free Travel to Japan as of July 1

by Mizuho Aoki

Tokyo, The government will relax visa requirements for visitors from Southeast Asian countries starting Monday, hoping to lure more travelers from fast-growing economies to spur economic growth.

Japan will waive visa requirements for tourists from Thailand and Malaysia, and offer a multiple-entry visa to Filipino and Vietnamese travelers.

The move coincides with the 40th anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan Dialogue, a project to boost international relations.

The visa waiver will apply to Thai travelers to Japan whose stay is less than 15 days and to tourists from Malaysia whose length of visit is no more than three months, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The visa waiver will only apply to people with an IC-equipped passport, the ministry said.

The multiple-entry visa for Filipino and Vietnamese travelers will allow them to visit Japan several times within a period of three years. The maximum stay per visit will be 15 days.

Japan will meanwhile extend the maximum stay for multiple-entry visas for Indonesian travelers to 30 days from the current 15.

“I hope that (the measures) will further develop relationships between these countries, such as an increase of travelers from these nations and improvement of convenience in the business (environment),” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday.

With Japan facing a graying and shrinking population, boosting the number of foreign visitors is one of the pillars of the government’s growth strategy. The current goal is to raise the number of people coming into the country to 30 million a year by 2030.

About 8.37 million foreign visitors came in last year, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Among them, 780,000, or 9.3 percent, were from Southeast Asia. The government has set a goal to increase the number of visitors from that region to 2 million in 2016.