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Chinese Tourism To Japan

Japan considering relaxing visa rules for Chinese tourists

Oct 20, 2009

NAGOYA - The Japanese tourism minister said Sunday the government will consider granting tourist visas to more individual travellers from China by easing current requirements that have been viewed as a barrier to human exchanges between the two countries, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.

Land, Infrastructure Transport and Tourism Minister Seiji Maehara said during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Shao Qiwei that he wants to ''ease visa requirements further,'' mirroring Japan's interest in boosting the number of Chinese visitors from an estimated 1 million last year.

Tokyo first granted tourist visas to Chinese nationals for group trips in 2000, expanded the measure to cover trips by wealthy Chinese families in 2008 and then extended visas to individual Chinese travelers in July this year.

In an attempt to prevent illegal overstays, however, Japan's issuance of tourist visas to individual Chinese travellers is currently limited to people with an annual income at least 250,000 Chinese yuan (about RM123,952).

Only travel agencies designated by the Japanese government are allowed to file for visas for trips to Japan. The travel agencies are required to confirm that travellers have returned to China and report it to the Japanese authorities.

Shao notified Maehara of a plan to allow Chinese nationals to make sightseeing trips to Japan through local bureaus of Japanese travel agencies on a trial basis.

Shao said China will soon begin selecting the Japanese companies based on their credibility, track records and management capabilities.

''I think Japanese travel agencies can provide fine-tuned services and hospitality and it will help to increase the number of tourists to Japan dramatically,'' Maehara told reporters while welcoming the plan revealed by Shao.

Maehara and Shao met ahead of a meeting in Nagoya of the tourism ministers of Japan, China and South Korea, in which they agreed on measures such as providing proper treatment to tourists exhibiting new-flu symptoms and stepping up efforts for tourist protection.

Japan considering relaxing visa rules for Chinese tourists
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