The Japanese Government is planning to introduce an Electronic System for tourist visa applications by mid-2020. Such a move has been undertaken by the competent authorities, in a bid to achieve the goal of hosting 40 million foreign visitors per year in 2020 and 60 million by 2030.
The electronic system will be implemented in April 2020, ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games set to be held in Tokyo. The games are expected to cause a dramatic spike in inbound visitor figures in the same year.
The first to be able to apply through this system are Chinese tourists applying for single-entry visas. The reason behind this is that according to a government report, Chinese visitors accounted for nearly 60 percent of all the visas to Japan issued in 2017.
The introduction of the scheme aims to create a simpler visa application process, while at the same time reducing the amount of work for visa application handlers. The government of Japan is also planning to add extra visa types to the system, to facilitate visa application for tourists, for the same purposes.
In 2017 alone, Japan saw a record of 28.7 million foreign tourists entering the country, marking an increase of 19.3 percent compared to the previous year. In the same year, these tourists spend 4.42 trillion yen (US$39 billion), which is 17.8 percent more than in 2016.
In addition, starting January 2019, all travelers leaving Japan will have to pay a departure tax of ¥1,000 (US$9.40), also called as “the Sayonara tax”. The tax is expected to add around ¥43 billion to the annual budget of Japan.
Currently, tourists from the following countries can apply for a visa-on-arrival upon showing up at the border to enter Japan:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- the United States