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Japan to issue visas to individual Chinese tourists

Japan will start issuing visas to individual Chinese tourists from Wednesday in response to growing demand for non-group travel between the two countries, the foreign ministry in Tokyo said.

world Updated: Jun 29, 2009 16:47 IST

Japan will start issuing visas to individual Chinese tourists from Wednesday in response to growing demand for non-group travel between the two countries, the foreign ministry in Tokyo said on Monday.

The tourist visas will be issued to individuals and accompanying family members if they have "good references in terms of occupation, financial resources and other factors," the ministry said in a press release.

Since 2000, Japan has admitted Chinese tourists travelling in groups escorted by both Chinese and Japanese tour guides, the ministry said.

Applications for the new visa will be accepted at the Japanese embassy in Beijing and at the consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou in the initial year and later at all Japanese diplomatic missions in China, the statement said.

The Jiji Press news agency reported that an annual income of 250,000 yuan (36,700 dollars) or more would be a requirement for the visa.

But an official at the ministry's consular affairs bureau said, "We have not mentioned any specific level of income in our criteria."

The statement said that "the number of Chinese visiting Japan has markedly increased" and added that "there has been strong demand for tourism in a freer form involving smaller groups of people."

The annual number of Chinese arrivals in Japan, including business visitors and tourists, is forecast to reach 1.25 million in 2010, up 250,000 from 2008, it added.