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Let’s discuss passports and visas

Staff Writer

This week’s featured article

DAISUKE KIKUCHI, THE JAPAN TIMES

Japanese and Singaporean passport holders have the greatest travel freedom worldwide, with visa-free access to a record 180 countries, according to a survey by the law firm Henley & Partners.

According to the 2018 Henley Passport Index Ranking released Feb. 28, Germany fell to second, with visa-free access to 179 countries, after ranking first for the past five years.

“Japan and Singapore rose to the top of the index after, among other developments, Uzbekistan lifted visa requirements for Japanese and Singaporean nationals in early February,” the firm said on its website. “Uzbekistan’s efforts to increase tourist inflows saw a number of other countries in Asia and the Middle East (including Turkey, Indonesia, and Israel) gaining access.”

Japan ranked fifth in last year’s survey, with visa-free access to 172 nations.

Overall, nations in Asia and the Middle East have expanded the number of countries their passport holders can travel to without a visa, increasing the mobility of their citizens, the firm said. This trend has been slower in their European and American counterparts, where the signing of new cross-border agreements on short-term travel has been far less frequent, it said.

In Tokyo, the Foreign Ministry was pleased with the result.

“Allowing visa-free access to a great number of countries has been one of the major characteristics of Japanese passports,” said Yoriko Suzuki, a Foreign Ministry official in charge of issuing passports. “It brings further convenience to the Japanese people.”

According to the survey, South Korea ranked third, along with Spain, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy and Sweden with visa-free access to 178 countries. The United Kingdom took fourth with 177 countries and the United States fifth with 176. Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were at the bottom of the list, with each only having visa-free access to 28, 27 and 24 countries, respectively.

The Henley Passport Index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association. Henley & Partners say IATA maintains the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of travel information.

First published in The Japan Times on March 3.

Warm up

One-minute chat about “your best trip.”

Game

Collect words related to travel, e.g., hotel, vacation, relax.

New words

1) inflow: something that comes in, e.g., “The country’s economy needs an inflow of young workers.”

2) mobility: the ability to move, e.g., “As people grow old, they have less mobility.”

Guess the headline

Japan ties with S_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ to top p _ _ _ _ _ _ _ power ranking

Questions

1) Which country’s people ranked first for visa-free access last year?

2) What is the trend in Europe and America?

3) Which country recently stopped requiring visas from Japanese travelers?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What is your dream overseas travel destination and why?

2) Would a visa requirement affect where you decide to travel?

3) Do you think Japan should relax or tighten visa requirements for foreign tourists?

Reference

旅行に行くのであればその準備は手間が かからないに越したことはありません。国によって差はあれど発行に対して日数も手数料もかかる入国ビザが必要か不要かということは旅行者にとって気になることでしょう。

日本人は今世界で一番海外旅行がしやすい 国民になったと言えます。ビザなしで入国が許されるということはその国や国民への信頼の証拠でもあるでしょう。

諸外国とどのようにしてさらに良い関係を築いていけばよいのか、朝の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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