Visitors to Japan will be able to apply for a tourist visa online without needing to go to an embassy or consulate. The new Japan eVisa will be available from April 2020.
At first, the eVisa will only be available to Chinese tourists as a single-entry visa. According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, 60% of all visas issued in 2017 were for Chinese tourists. A recent survey shows Chinese people's views of Japan have improved in recent years. Territorial disputes and wars have put a strain on relations between the two countries in the past.
The eVisa scheme will expand other nationalities later on next year. The government is also planning on introducing other new types of visas.
The introduction of the Japan eVisa is part of a wider government strategy to boost tourism. They aim to increase the number of annual visitors to 40 million by 2020 and to 60 million by 2030
As part of this strategy, Japan will also increase the number of low-cost flights to and from the country. New types of bullet trains are being introduced to improve internal transport and tourists can obtain a Japan Rail Pass to save money.
The number of tourists received this year will surpass 30 million for the first time. This record-breaking figure has occurred despite a series of natural disasters which has affected the numbers of tourists. The west of Japan has been hit by Monsoons and there was a devastating earthquake in Hokkaido.
The eVisa will simplify the application process. It will save time for travelers, reduce the workload at embassies and consulates, tighten immigration control, improve data communication between the government and airlines. These improvements will help to ensure the 2020 Tokyo Olympics run smoothly.
Which nationalities will be eligible for the Japan eVisa?
The eVisa will only be available for Chinese travelers at first. After that, it will be rolled out for more nationalities.
The list of eligible countries is not yet available. Channel News Asia has reported that tourists from Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and the United States will be able to obtain visas on arrival.
At the moment there are 66 visa-exempt nationalities. People from the following countries can enter Japan for up to 90 days (unless stated otherwise) without any form of travel authorization (it may be the case that these nationalities will need an eVisa or a visa on arrival from 2020):
All European Union citizens, Andorra, Australia, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Brunei (15 days), Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Suriname, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand (15 days), Tunisia, Turkey, the United States, and Uruguay.