To boost tourism, Japan considers easing visa restrictions

Proposed visa changes focus on areas in Japan hit particularly hard by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The Japanese government is considering lightening visa restrictions to give tourism a boost in the Asian country.

On Thursday, proposals set fourth by a Liberal Democratic Party tourism panel to the government included easier visa requirements in order to try and give the tourism industry and the country's economy a boost in the coming years.

Japan has struggled economically in the wake of the recession and the need to close down a number of nuclear facilities after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Following Fukushima, the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) said that restarting half of 52 currently dormant reactors would save 8 trillion yen ($20.3 billion) by next year.

The need to import energy and cope with a weak economy has left the Japanese government seeking other ways to boost commerce. The government is due to announce new policies on economic and fiscal management in June, and would like to boost foreign tourism from approximately 8.4 million in 2012 to 10 million in 2013, and up to 25 million in 2020.

The proposals would not only free Thais, Malaysians and Indonesians from visa requirements when entering the country, but would also allow the Vietnamese and Russians to acquire multiple visas so they can visit multiple times in one sitting.

However, the new types of visas are geared towards encouraging tourists to visit places hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami, namely Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Okinawa.

Read more: The Japan Times

Image credit: Flickr

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