The Japanese government is planning to expand its electronic visa services system to simplify visa application procedures for foreign tourists, especially as tourism rebounds following the relaxation of coronavirus-related border control measures.
The Foreign Ministry introduced the online service in March, initially in 11 countries and regions, with China added to the system in June. This service allows eligible applicants to obtain short-term stay visas without having to visit their local Japanese embassy or consulate.
According to data from the Japan National Tourism Organization, approximately 15.19 million foreign tourists entered Japan in the first eight months of this year, which represents about 69% of the total recorded in the same period in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ministry’s Foreign Nationals’ Affairs Division has reported an increasing rate of online applicants and believes that the system’s convenience is contributing to the recovery of inbound tourism.
The government is currently evaluating whether to expand the electronic visa scheme to more countries.
The computerization of the visa system has accelerated processing times and reduced the workload for government staff.
Under the plan, applicants from all eligible countries and regions except China will be able to pay visa fees using credit cards. Successful applicants will be informed of the results of their screening by email. They can also present their visa issuance notice from their smartphones when boarding a flight to Japan or entering the country.
The 12 countries and regions currently included in the system are Brazil, Britain, Canada, Cambodia, China, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.