Taiwan expands travel privileges for Japanese visitors

Taipei--Taiwan has decided to make it easier for Japanese citizens to visit the country by lifting the requirement that their passports be valid for at least three months from the time of entry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

Under the new initiative, which took effect Tuesday, Japanese citizens can visit Taiwan as long as they have a valid passport that remains valid during their stay in Taiwan, said Winston Chung, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

"We made the decision based on the friendly relations between Taiwan and Japan and the principle of reciprocity," he said at a regular news briefing. "We believe the new measure will facilitate travel by Japanese to Taiwan."

Japan has allowed Taiwanese citizens to visit Japan with only a valid passport, Chung said, but Taiwan had required Japanese visitors to present a passport with at least three months of validity to enter Taiwan without a visa.

He said Taiwan decided to lift the three-month requirement after Japan expressed hope for the change.

At present, Japanese and Taiwanese travelers can visit each other's country without a visa and stay for up to 90 days, and that will not change under the new passport measure.

Japan is among the main sources of foreign tourists to Taiwan, with 1,895,702 arrivals last year, according to statistics compiled by the Tourism Bureau.

In addition to lifting restrictions on Japanese travelers, Taiwan is also making efforts to streamline visa procedures for visitors from Southeast Asian countries and hopes to receive reciprocal treatment from them, according to Chung.

For example, Taiwan will hold a cross-agency meeting in September to finalize the details of visa-free treatment for Philippine visitors, he said.

Taiwan is also hoping the Philippines will lower the fee for e-visas and eventually grant visa-free treatment for Taiwanese passport holders, he added.

In an effort to promote exchanges with Southeast Asian and South Asian countries under its "New Southbound Policy," the government has offered visa-free treatment to Thai and Brunei citizens and e-visas to Philippine visitors and issued multiple-entry visas valid for two years to people from ASEAN countries.

The measures have boosted visits to Taiwan, especially those from Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, Chung said.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council