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Japan: Visa Exemption Could Be Permanent

Posted November. 14, 2005 03:07,   


Regarding the entry visa exemption for short-term Korean residents (tourists) to Japan, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso suggested that the Japanese government will allow Koreans to enter the country without visas permanently if problems don’t arise. “It’s important that an accident doesn’t occur during the temporary exemption period that runs until February 2006, and I hope that will be the case,” said Foreign Minister Aso.

Prior to visiting Korea to attend the Asia and Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Foreign Minister Aso said that the visa exemption is beneficial to the two countries in that it will increase the exchanges between Korea and Japan in an exclusive interview with Dong-A Ilbo at the minister’s reception room of the Foreign Ministry building in Tokyo on the night of November 11.

Concerning the compensation for the Korean victims of Hansen’s disease, Aso also stated that the Japanese government will sincerely handle the issue. This means the Japanese government will take prospective measures in the above matter in an effort to improve the relationship between the two countries.

An official of the Japanese Foreign Ministry noted, “The Japanese government is considering the compensation for the victims from the humanitarian point of view, regardless of the ruling from the Supreme Court of Japan,” and added that considering that the victims are the aged, Japan could compensate the victims before the final ruling comes.

Foreign Minister Aso will have a meeting with his Korean counterpart Ban Ki-moon and discuss a measure to improve the relationship between the two countries that has chilled over the visits to Yasukuni shrine by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on November 14 in Busan.

Won-Jae Park parkwj@donga.com