Section 6. Entry of Foreign Nationals



1.  Entry of Foreigners and Role of Visa


A total of 2.02 million foreign nationals visited Japan in 1986. Foreigners, regardless of nationality or purpose of their visits, must in principle obtain entry visas at Japanese diplomatic offices abroad prior to their arrivals in Japan. The visa system is based on the thinking that the prior screening and approval of entry for foreigners is necessary especially to maintain the security and public order of the nation, protect its economic interests and duly implement its foreign policies. Such a visa system is universally implemented today.

Recently, there are the two seemingly conflicting simplification and tightening trends in the administration of the visa system. The simplification aspect is best represented by arrangements with other countries for mutual exemption of visas for tourists and other short-term visitors to promote the exchange of persons with those countries. Japan has such arrangements with 50 countries, including the one concluded with Barbados in February 1986 and another concluded with Brunei in May 1986.

On the other hand, the tightening of visa regulations is needed to deal with those foreigners who stay in Japan illegally beyond their authorized period of stay or those who engage in activities other than those they are qualified for. The Government has been making every effort to check the entry of these questionable foreign nationals. The situation now cannot be corrected solely by tighter control on visa issuance. While taking appropriate measures domestically, it is also necessary to seek cooperations from the governments of countries concerned.



2.  Issuance of Visas


Foreigners wishing to visit Japan can apply for visas at Travel Documents for Aliens (certificates of travel for those who do not have valid passports) at 179 Japanese diplomatic offices abroad. The total number of visas issued in 1986 represent about 1.2 million, which has shown a 15.4% drop from the previous year, probably because of the further appreciation of the Japanese yen. By region, Asia accounted for 63.9% of the total visas issued and North America 28.1%, the combined share of which represent over 90% of the total.



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