rikshaw drivers atasakusaTOKYO —Japan said Tuesday it would relax visa rules for tourists from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam in a bid to double the number of foreign visitors ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Tourists with Indonesian e-passports embedded with a microchip can be exempt from getting a visa, the foreign ministry said, while rules for those from the Philippines and Vietnam will also be “substantially relaxed”.

“The objectives of these measures are to promote Japan as a tourism-oriented country with the… goal of attracting 20 million foreign visitors” annually, the ministry said in a statement. The new rules would come into effect “as quickly as possible”, it added.

Japan topped the 10 million visitor mark for the first time in 2013 as its tourism sector recovers after the quake-tsunami and nuclear disaster three years ago. Officials are hoping to boost the number of arrivals as part of a wider effort to kickstart the world’s number three economy.

Furthermore, as foreign visitors are expected to travel outside Japan’s major urban areas, the government is planning to increase the number of duty-free stores to over 10,000, as well as increase the availability of unique Japanese souvenirs so that foreign visitors can experience the best of Japan during their stay.

Originally published on www.japantoday.com

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