The Taipei Times is reporting that Japan is granting
visa-free privileges for Taiwanese tourists between March 25 and Sept. 25 will not be subject to any change despite protests from China.
Although currently only planned as a temporary measure, it may develop into a permanent policy of visa-free entry as citizens of many countries enjoy. As a US passport holder I can enter Japan for I believe 90 days (although I have only been there with a longer term visa), and Hong Kong citizens were granted a permanent exemption just last year. Both Taiwan and Korea currently allow Japanese tourists to enter without visas for a limited time, but the policy is not reciprocal. This may not be very fair, but I would imagine it is because those two countries are more interested in the economic benefits of tourists from Japan than vice-versa, something which is gradually changing.
Although a significant minority of Japanese citizens are opposed to an increase in foreign tourism (mainly due to incredibly misleading media reports on foreign crime), it seems that the government policy is strongly in favor of it.
When asked whether these visa exemptions might be extended to Chinese mainlanders, a Diet member replied “Due to a difference in the requirements for visas from Taiwan and China, we are unable to allow that.” What this really means is that they would be worried about illegal immigration from Chinese nationals overstaying visas but not particularly worried about visa overstayers from Taiwan or Korea, both countries whose standard of living is now close enough to that of Japan to lessen the temptation significantly.
Taiwanese and South Koreans form the two largest groups of tourists to Japan and rarely overstay visas, the paper said. [Taipei Times]
The article also mentions that
The Japanese government has to amend its Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act to implement a new visa policy for Taiwanese tourists.
The law stipulates that visa-exempt entry is only available to Japan’s diplomatic allies. Although a significant number of foreign tourists arriving in Japan are from Taiwan and South Korea, Japan cannot lift the present visa restrictions because of the law.
I imagine that the big problem with Taiwan is their quasi-statehood coming back to bite them in the ass again. As for Korea, I just realized I don’t know if they’re an official diplomatic ally of Japan. Does anyone out there have an idea?