Japan to ease visa rules ahead of 2020 Olympics

Japan to ease visa rules ahead of 2020 Olympics
From left: IOC executive director Gilbert Felli, IOC's vice Chairman of the coordination Commission for the Games of 32th Olympiad - Tokyo 2020, Alex Gilady, IOC vice President John Coates, former Japanese prime minister and President of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic Games Yoshiro Mori, CEO of the Tokyo Organising Committee Toshiro Muto and JOC President Tsunekazu Takeda

TOKYO - 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.

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