Japan to issue multiple-entry visas to Chinese

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

BEIJING - Japan is to issue multiple-entry visas to Chinese nationals beginning this summer in a bid to attract China’s burgeoning middle class into visiting and spending money in the country, a media report said Wednesday.

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and Japan’s Tourism Agency chief Hiroshi Mizohata have already started talks to introduce the system so that Japan can earn more money from the Chinese tourists, China Daily reported citing the Kyodo News Agency.

This is the second move in the past six months for the Japanese government to relax its visa rules to lure the big-spending Chinese tourists.

Last July, Tokyo cut the income requirement of Chinese applying for tourist visas from 250,000 yuan ($37,000) to 60,000 yuan — and for those who own gold credit cards.

It also increased the number of consulates in China accepting visa applicants from three to seven.

To further those efforts, Tokyo has now decided to issue the multiple-entry visa so that Chinese tourists may enter Japan as many times as they want during its period of validity.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has aimed to attract 25 million foreign tourists annually by 2020 under its new economic growth strategy.

Statistics show that a record number of 390,000 visas were issued to Chinese tourists in 2009 — and the number has been growing.

However, after the collision between a Chinese fishing boat and two Japanese patrol boats near China’s Diaoyu Islands last September, fewer Chinese tourists tended to choose Japan as a travel destination.

And in another effort to improve the soured bilateral ties, Kan is reportedly considering a visit to China in the coming spring.

Li Wei, director of the Institute of Japanese Studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said the policy by Tokyo to ease regulations for Chinese visitors has been a consistent one.

“It aims to encourage repeat Chinese visitors’ consumption. And the Japanese government hopes Chinese tourists can improve their image toward Japan through sightseeing,” she said.

She added that Japan’s business circle was dissatisfied with how their government handled the fishing boat crisis, because of the urgent need of Chinese tourists with strong purchasing power as well as the huge market in China.

Filed under: Economy

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