Visas

Japan: ‘We’re very disappointed’

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JAPAN is “very disappointed” about the ruling by a high court, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, saying it would appeal the ruling.

The ministry said Japan was considering the court’s decision.

The ruling was the first major legal challenge to a host country’s policy of letting tourists travel to their home country without visas.

It comes amid growing criticism of Japan’s treatment of its most vulnerable citizens, particularly those from overseas.

Japan is the world’s third largest tourism market after the US and China.

But a raft of recent cases has highlighted the limits of that model, with a string of cases that have seen visitors and their families held back or deported.

The Foreign Ministry was responding to a statement by the US state department which said Japan had “shown an alarming lack of concern for its citizens who may be in danger overseas and in Japan.”

The ministry’s statement said Japan’s ruling had “taken a drastic step towards restricting freedom of travel to people from around the world”.

“As a result, Japan has become the victim of another case of xenophobia, the very type of case that is used to justify a discriminatory approach to foreign nationals who seek to visit Japan,” it said.

“This is an example of the dangers that can arise when we let in so many people who come from around a world that is often closed to outsiders.”

The Foreign Office said it had been working with the Japanese government to ensure the “most appropriate measures” were in place to ensure travellers were safe and secure.

“We will continue to work closely with the government of Japan to ensure all our citizens are safe and protected when they travel to Japan,” a spokeswoman said.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the ruling showed Japan had taken steps to address concerns about its policy of “permission-based” travel to other countries.

“It’s important to understand that these actions were taken at a time when our Government was actively working to build a strong relationship with the Japan government,” she said.

She said the government would seek to amend the visa system to better reflect the needs of Australians in Japan.

The latest cases, which came in response to the ruling, include a British couple who were refused a visa because they had been in Japan for more than a year, a US couple who had been on holiday for three months, and a Japanese couple who was granted a visa after travelling to the US for less than a month.

A spokesman for Australia’s foreign affairs minister said the Australian Government was aware of the ruling and would seek further information from the Japanese embassy in Canberra.

“The Government of Japan has been in touch with the Australian Embassy in Japan to make sure that Australians in Japanese custody are treated fairly and humanely, and that Australia has the appropriate safeguards in place,” the spokesman said.

Topics:government-and-politics,travel-and -travel-related,travel,immigration,law-crime-and—justice,travel—press,international-aid-and-,immigration,traveler,foreign-affairs,foreign,host-territory-island,japans-pacific,pacific-islands,australiaFirst posted October 20, 2018 07:36:16Contact Peter WrightMore stories from New Zealand