Sat, Dec 04, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Japan set to drop visa requirement for Taiwanese tourists

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH CNA

As a result of legal revisions, Taiwanese tourists to Japan will enjoy visa-free status during and after the EXPO 2005 AICHI, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura confirmed yesterday.

Machimura told a press conference that the Japanese government has in principle decided to continue to offer visa-free entry to Taiwanese visitors after the six-month EXPO 2005 AICHI ends on Sept. 25.

The Japanese government had previously agreed to grant the privilege to citizens of Taiwan entering the country during the EXPO period in an effort to lure a larger number of tourists to the exhibition.

According to Machimura, the Japanese government will put forth a special law in January and an amendment to the exit and entry law after April to push through the move in two phases.

Taiwan is Japan's second-largest source of tourists after South Korea, with the number so far this year expected to exceed the 1 million mark next week.

Currently, only visitors from countries that maintain diplomatic ties with Japan are provided with visa-free entry.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) pointed out, however, that the visa exemption measures were to be subjected to a vote by the Japanese Diet.

According to Lu, Japan had already begun relaxing visa regulations for Taiwanese students studying in Japan beginning this September.

He said that by March, high school-aged students and younger, along with certain educators, will be able to enter Japan without visas.

"We're hoping to see both these measures go into affect at the same time this March," Lu said, adding that this had long been an important task for the ministry.

Lu said that granting visa-free status to Taiwanese would be a welcome convenience and allow for increased exchange between the two nations.

He also added that the measure could be implemented at an early date.

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