Go to contents

Japan Extends Korean Visa Waiver

Posted February. 07, 2006 04:10,   


From now on, Koreans visitors can visit Japan for up to 90 days without a visa.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso announced yesterday afternoon that Japan will extend its visa waiver program for Koreans indefinitely. The waiver had been temporarily in place since last March and was scheduled to conclude at the end of this month.

The program will be applied to those visiting Japan for business, tourist, or stopover purposes.

Business purposes include market research, business contacts, visiting relatives, and attending conferences. Those going to Japan for employment, immigration, or long-term study exceeding 90 days do not qualify for the visa waiver program.

In response, the Korean government decided to apply the same program to Japanese visitors coming to Korea for tourism, stopovers, or business.

Korea has allowed Japanese citizens to make short-term visits to Korea without a visa since August 1995 by extending its Japanese visa waiver program every year.

According to Japan’s Foreign Ministry, the extension of the visa waver program is part of the Japanese government’s efforts to improve its relationship with Korea, which has been strained due to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

One Korean government official noted that since the visa waiver program only involves the exchange of a Memorandum of Understanding without a formal agreement, one country can unilaterally cancel the program at will.

The number of Koreans traveling to Japan is on the rise, from 1.58 million in 2003, 1.73 million in 2004, to 1.9 million in 2005. Meanwhile, the number of Japanese visitors to Korea has decreased from 2.426 million in 2004 to 2.421 million in 2005.

Myoung-Gun Lee Won-Jae Park gun43@donga.com parkwj@donga.com