World / Asia-Pacific

Japan extends multiple-entry visas

By Zhao Shengnan ( Updated: 2012-07-03 12:56

Japan started from this month to issue multiple-entry visas to Chinese tourists to its three northeast prefectures hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Japanese embassy and consulates in seven Chinese cities began processing such visa applications on Monday.

Under the new visa policy, Chinese travel agencies are required to certify that a tourist will stay at least overnight in one of the three prefectures — Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi. Visa holders are free to stay anywhere in Japan afterward.

Available only to individual tourists with a certain level of income, the visas will be valid for three years and allow visa holders to stay in Japan for up to 90 days per visit, according to Kyodo News Agency,

In July 2011, Japan introduced the first multiple-entry tourist visas ever to Chinese nationals to Okinawa. Kyodo said around 19,000 such visas had been issued by the end of May. Okinawa estimates about 50,000 Chinese tourists visited the prefecture during the subsequent 11-month period, twice the number of the previous fiscal year to March 2011.

Fear of radiation contamination from the disaster-crippled nuclear power plant remains a hurdle for the three prefectures in attracting more tourists. Officials in the three prefectures hold high hopes that the multiple-entry visas will dispel safety concerns and repeat the Okinawa success.

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