Japanese authorities have issued a warning to Thai nationals not to stay in Japan beyond the 15-day visa free period, or risk being banned for life. The warning from the Japanese government came after it was discovered that a number of Thai visitors abused the visa-free privilege to enter Japan and traveled to the country to illegally work there. Japan had introduced free visas for tourists from Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations who wish to stay in the country up to 15 days in a bid to ramp up tourism into the country to help spur economic growth.
The “free visa” announcement made in early July this year then prompted a sharp increase in Thai tourists, and around 200 of them were discovered to have entered Japan with the intention of overstaying and seeking work. The warning from the Japanese authorities issued today said that any Thai national who wished to stay in Japan for employment purposes must apply for a visa before entering Japan. If they enter Japan under the visa-free arrangement and for any reason will not be able to leave after 15 days, they must contact the immigration authorities before the 15-day period expires. Japanese immigration authorities said that if any Thai national stays on in Japan without properly and officially extending their visa, they will be considered illegal. “If they are found to be illegally staying in Japan, they will be immediately deported and banned from returning for between five to ten years. If the case goes to court and they are sentenced to a jail term, they would be banned for life,” the warning said.
Japanese tourism officials had set for themselves a target of 2 million tourists from Southeast Asia by 2016, and so Japan amended some of its visa requirements for certain countries in the region. This summer, Japan waived visa requirements for tourists from Thailand and Malaysia and had begun allowing multiple-entry visas for visitors from the Philippines and Vietnam. Developing countries in Southeast Asia are tourism targets for Japan as it aims to boost its industry to spur economic growth in its sluggish economy. Out of the 8.37 million foreign visitors to Japan last year, 780,000 of them were from Southeast Asia.
[via National Multimedia]