No change in Japanese visa for Thais

THAILAND - Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul yesterday dismissed as rumour a social media report that Japan would again require visas for Thai nationals, as a large number of Thai tourists had exploited the no-visa rule by staying illegally in Japan.

Surapong said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had asked the Japanese authorities about this matter and the report was found to be untrue.

However, he warned that it was possible Japan would consider ending the visa relaxation for Thai nationals if many end up overstaying their time allowed to stay in Japan as tourists. He urged Thais seeking to work in Japan to apply for a work visa, as the visa relaxation only applies to tourists.

The foreign minister said that in the past New Zealand had exempted visa requirement for Thai tourists but later cancelled the relaxation after many people exploited it by working in that country. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not want that to happen again," he said.

Starting from July 1, the Japanese Embassy has stopped requiring visas for tourists from four member countries of ASEAN - Thailand, Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia.