-- June 2013 ~ Travel and Immigration 101
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Japan Immigration Lifts Visa Requirement for ASEAN Countries

Japan has lifted visa requirements for a number of ASEAN countries including Thailand and Malaysia to help spur the nation's tourism industry and to develop relationships with Southeast Asian countries.
According to Foreign Ministry’s pronouncement, visa exemption will be effective for Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Viet Nam after July, 1. Ministry underlined the decision is adopted to celebrate “40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.” Visa exemption is valid for short time visit no longer than 15 days. Japan cautioned those travelers who want to stay longer must still need a visa.

The territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing lowered the Chinese travelers. Japan’s move to nationalize disputed islands at the East China Sea drew a harsh critic from Chinese’s officials and triggered a boycott from Chinese’s consumers and tourists. With no end in sight to the dispute, the Japanese government turned its eye to lucrative Southeast Asian market. Tokyo wants to attract 1 million Southeast Asian tourists this year, and 2 million in 2016. The number was 780,000 last year.

On the political side, the Japanese governments want to have a closer relationship with ASEAN countries. Nationalist leader Shinzo Abe who visited Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia after becoming prime minister is expected to tour Malaysia and the Philippines. During his visit, Japanese Prime Minister will try to develop relations with Southeast Asian countries to obstruct Beijing’s regional ambition, reports say. Malaysia and the Philippines have a territorial dispute with Beijing likewise Japan. Japanese PM Abe is due to host a special meeting of ASEAN leaders in Tokyo in December.

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