Japan to introduce electronic visa system for tourists from April 2020
Japan Times -- Oct 15
The government will introduce an electronic system for tourist visa applications in April 2020 in an effort to help achieve its goal of 60 million foreign visitors a year by 2030, government sources said Sunday.

The online system will first be available to Chinese tourists for single-entry visa applications and then to travelers from other countries, the sources said. Tourist visas for Chinese visitors accounted for nearly 60 percent of all the visas issued in 2017, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The government plans to add other types of visas to the new system.

The electronic visa is designed to simplify the application process, reduce the workload at diplomatic missions and tighten immigration control, with visa data to be shared with airlines, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Prospective visitors will be able to apply for tourist visas online through travel agencies.

Japan had a record 28.7 million foreign visitors in 2017, up 19.3 percent from the previous year, and their spending last year rose 17.8 percent to an all-time high of ¥4.42 trillion ($39 billion).

As the government is looking to boost tourism as a pillar of its growth strategy, it aims to bring the number of visitors to 40 million by 2020 and 60 million by 2030.

As part of its strategy, Japan has eased visa requirements and increased the number of low-cost carriers and other flights to boost inbound tourism.

News source: Japan Times
Dec 14
A Japanese government panel says a run of growth that began in December 2012 has now become the second-longest period of expansion in the post-war era. But that verdict comes as Japan struggles with sluggish wage growth and a chronic labor shortage. (NHK)
Dec 14
Traditional female entertainers in Kyoto have started offering early New Year greetings. (NHK)
Dec 14
The Japanese government plans to take measures to make regional labor markets accessible to foreign blue-collar workers to avoid them concentrating in large cities such as Tokyo when the country starts accepting them under the new visa system next year, the government's top spokesman said Thursday. (Japan Today)
Dec 14
Sixteen-year-old shogi prodigy Sota Fujii has reached his 100th victory in official matches of the Japanese board game, becoming the youngest professional player to reach the milestone at the fastest pace in history. (Japan Today)
Dec 12
Japan is seeking to possess its first aircraft carrier to allow for the deployment of U.S.-made stealth fighters as it seeks to bolster its arms capability under a new 10-year defense plan. (Japan Today)
Dec 12
A court in Beijing has sentenced a Japanese man in his 70s who was arrested in China in June 2015 to 12 years in prison for spying, sources well-informed about Sino-Japanese relations said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Dec 12
Rakuten Inc and Walmart Inc officially opened the first Walmart e-commerce store in Japan, the Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store, on the Rakuten Ichiba internet shopping mall. (Japan Today)
Dec 11
Major Japanese restaurant chain Gusto on Monday stopped providing plastic straws at its 1,300 locations nationwide. (NHK)
Dec 11
Tokyo prosecutors have indicted former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn for understating his past compensation by tens of millions of dollars. They have also served an additional arrest warrant on him over similar allegations relating to his pay in the last 3 years. (NHK)
Dec 11
Winter bonuses at Japanese companies averaged an all-time high of 834,391 yen ($7,400) this year, according to a Nikkei survey released Monday, notching a sixth straight year of growth on strong corporate earnings. (Nikkei)