Japan considers extending tourist visa waiver for Thai citizens

Photo courtesy of ThaiEmbassy.com

Japan is contemplating an extension of its tourist visa waiver for Thai citizens due to rising concerns over its potential discontinuation next year. This matter surfaced during discussions held in Tokyo between Foreign Minister Maris Sangiampongsa and his Japanese counterpart, Yoko Kamikawa.

Trade and investment relations were the primary focus of their meeting. However, the visa waiver programme was also a significant topic. Japan has permitted Thai tourists and businesspeople to enter without a visa for up to 15 days since 2013. This unilateral and temporary measure has been renewed every three years, with the current extension set to last until 2025.

Nevertheless, there are worries among those who overstay their visas that the programme might be terminated next year.

Kamikawa reportedly agreed to consider the extension of the visa waiver while both countries address the issue of overstayers, reported Bangkok Post.

“We are committed to strengthening our bilateral ties and ensuring that legitimate travel between our nations continues smoothly.”

The continuation of the visa waiver programme is seen as a crucial element in maintaining strong tourism and trade connections between Japan and Thailand.

ORIGINAL STORY: Thai government tackles rise in nationals overstaying Japan visas

The Thai government pledged to tackle the increasing number of Thai nationals overstaying their 15-day visas in Japan, following a sharp rise in such incidents over recent years. This commitment was confirmed by Jakkapong Sangmanee, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who recently held discussions with a senior official from the Japanese embassy.

The public expressed concerns over the potential removal of visa-free privileges granted by Japan, with Tokyo calling for an urgent resolution to this issue. This matter, if not addressed, could potentially jeopardise the continuation of the visa-free policy in 2025.

Data from the Department of Consular Affairs revealed a significant increase in the number of Thais overstaying their Japan visas. The figures rose from 8,688 in 2021 to 9,549 in 2022 and 11,472 in 2023. This is a stark contrast to the roughly 3,500 cases recorded in 2013, the year the visa-free policy was introduced.

While acknowledging the numbers as relatively minor compared to the total outbound tourists from Thailand last year, Jakkapong vowed to investigate the issue further. He has tasked the Department of Consular Affairs with coordinating with various agencies, adding that the ministry would collaborate with the Labour Ministry to encourage legal employment in the country.

The Japanese official reportedly appreciated the Thai government’s efforts and agreed that a joint effort was necessary to resolve the issue.

The Giftchan Nang Lao Facebook page, a source of information about Japan, noted that the number of foreign nationals overstaying their visas in the country has generally increased. This observation aligns with data from the Japanese authorities, reported Bangkok Post.

Visas for Thai visitors have been waived by Tokyo since July 2013, following the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident. This privilege was briefly suspended during the pandemic but was reinstated in October 2022.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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