Paperwork tries patience of Chinese tourists to Japan

Paperwork tries patience of Chinese tourists to Japan
Chinese tourists shop at a Laox electronics store in Tokyo's Ginza district in November.
PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review

GUANGZHOU, China - Chinese tourists are shopping up a storm in Japan these days. Yet a rigid, time-consuming visa process may be discouraging even more from making the trip - and nudging them toward other popular Asian destinations such as South Korea.

Chinese travelers must jump through quite a few hoops to get to Japan. Due to immigration regulations, a visa must be obtained through an approved Chinese travel agency. These agencies typically charge 500 yuan ($77.90) for the service, on top of the 200 yuan Japan's embassy and consulates charge for a single-entry visa.

The fees are negligible, particularly for shoppers planning to drop even more cash once they get to the country. But money is not the main issue. "It's the trouble of preparing a lot of documents to apply for a visa," said a sales manager at CYTS Tours Guangdong Railway. "Japan is still among the countries with the toughest visa restrictions in the world. Some people just give up."

Japan sets the bar particularly high for Chinese travelers, requiring them to prove they have at least 100,000 yuan in the bank. A tax certificate will suffice if the individual earns 100,000 yuan or more annually.

Would-be visitors also need to prove their employment status. Stay-at-home moms must show proof of unemployment issued by their local governments. Other requirements can include a marriage certificate, family registration certificate, identification card and, in some cases, proof of automobile or real estate ownership.

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