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Citizens of the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam will now have an easier time entering Japan after the latter lifted its visa requirement to the ASEAN nations, in a bid by Japan to boost its tourism industry.

The lifting of the visa requirement means citizens of these ASEAN nations can enter Japan without much of the hassle of applying for a visa, subject to certain conditions. The rule will be effective starting July 1, 2013.

Multiple-entry tourist visa for Vietnam and the Philippines

Filipinos, for one, may now be issued multiple-entry tourist visas, a privilege that Japan previously gave only to a few developed countries.

The multiple-entry visas will allow citizens of the Philippines to stay in Japan for not more than 15 days per visit, but they can visit as many times as they want as long as they carry a valid visa. The multiple-entry visas that Japan will issue to Filipinos will have a validity of up to 3 years.

Details on how to apply for the multiple-entry tourist visa will be disclosed soon.

Vietnamese people will receive the same privilege, as Japan recognized the increasing number of tourists from these growing economies.

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Max 15-day visas for Thailand and Malaysia

Citizens of Thailand and Malaysia, meanwhile, may enter Japan without the need to apply for a visa for a maximum of 15 days. The visa, however, may not be extended. Thai and Malaysian citizens wishing to stay beyond 15 days have to secure a visa in a Japanese embassy.

Prior to the lifting of this visa requirement, Japan only allowed Brunei and Singapore tourists to enter the country visa-free.

2 million ASEAN tourists target 

The move is an initiative of the Japanese government to boost the country’s tourism sector.

In 2012, Japan received more than 8.37 million tourists — with 260,000 coming from Thailand, 130,000 from Malaysia, 90,000 from the Philippines and 60,000 from Vietnam.

Japan is targeting to welcome 2 million tourists from the Southeast Asian region by 2016.

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