Section 2. Overseas Travels by Japanese
(1) The number of Japanese who made trips to foreign countries reached 5.51 million in 1986, and accordingly, the number of passports issued in the year registered an all-time high of 2.68 million.
With about 12 million valid passports outstanding, one out of every ten Japanese national holds a passport, and it is no exaggeration to say that foreign travels abroad have now become part of the everyday life of the general public.
(2) In 1986 a total of 2,687,495 passports were issued for ordinary, diplomatic and official travels abroad, excluding those issued by the diplomatic and consular missions overseas, an increase of 11.6% over the previous year.
With the sharp appreciation of yen that fueled further the Japanese enthusiasm for travels abroad due to substantially reduced travel expenses, the number of passport issued in each month of 1986 surpassed the level of the preceding year, September, October and December showed particularly large increases of more than 20 over the same months of the previous year.
It is difficult to predict if it would continue to increase or not, due to several uncertain factors involved. While the stronger yen is likely to remain a factor helping increase Japanese interest in travels abroad, it is also possible that economic slump followed by high yen appreciation might dampen the zeal for overseas trips. Given the strong enthusiasm for overseas travels among Japanese people, however, the issuance of passports is expected to keep rising for the time being.
2. Pattern of Overseas Travel
(1) By age of applicants for passsports, those in the 30s and younger than this accounted for about two-thirds of the total passports issued in 1986, with applicants at the age of 19 or younger standing at 8 percent, the 20s 37% and the 30s 20%.
(2) By purpose of travel, sightseeing and pleasure were by far the largest with 91 percent, and business travels accounted for 7 percent.
(3) By destination specified in passport applications, 1,014,832 passports, or 38 percent of the total, were issued for trips to the United States, mostly Hawaii and Guam. Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, France and Australia followed, in that order.
3. Office Automation for Speedy Passport Issuance
The Foreign Ministry introduced the computer system in 1965 to cope with a sharp increase in passport issuance work, and since 1969 successively set up computer terminals at prefectural government offices for direct data transmission. In 1984, the Ministry completed installation of the integrated processing system for data transmission and passport issuance work in all prefectural passport offices.
To cope with the ever-increasing work in passport issuance, the Ministry in fiscal 1985 started a program to introduce more office automation equipment for speedy processing of passport applications, and is also making efforts toward the simplification of passport application procedures, including a relaxation of regulations on applications by agent.
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