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Japan to relax visa norms for Chinese tourists

world Updated: Oct 19, 2009 14:02 IST
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Japan may consider granting tourist visas to more Chinese tourists by easing current requirements that are seen as a barrier in people to people exchange between two the nations.

During a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Shao Qiwei yesterday Japanese Tourism Minister Seiji Maehara said that he wants to "ease visa requirements further," to boost 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 travellers in July this year.

In an attempt to prevent illegal overstays, 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 3.5 million yen).

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.

"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.