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Translated by Yuan-ling Liang

Yomiuri Online reports, nearly 20 million foreign tourists visit Japan annually, which not only brings a great amount of tourism profit, but also leads to long waiting lines upon entering the country. To attract more travelers, the Japanese government is attempting to open preclearance facilities abroad. Taiwan is included among these countries, and so Taiwanese tourists will no longer need to wait in lines for their fingerprints to be taken after 2017 if both sides reach an agreement.

According to statistics issued by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), comparing to 2014, people visiting Japan increased 47.1% in 2015, reaching 19 million and 737 thousand in total. Consumer spending also grew 71%, amounting to JP$3.477 trillion (approximately US$28.816 billion), also reaching a historic high.

It’s also the first time the number of Japan inbound visitors has surpassed the amount of outbound travelers. JNTO points out that the sharp increase can be attributed to the decrease of fuel surcharges and airfreights, expansion of flight routes, plummet of the Japanese currency, extension of visa limitations and tax-free regulations.

From 2005 to October 2009, Japan launched preclearance facilities in Incheon International Airport and Taoyuan International Airport, which both have regular flights to Japan, in order to prevent terrorism attacks and illegal immigration. Examiners from the Japanese government enter the countries beforehand to pre-check the authenticity of passports and visas as well as identifications of the travelers. Japan plans to restart the system at Taoyuan International Airport in 2017 if negotiations go well.

According to Japanese media, more than 3.67 million Taiwanese tourists visited Japan in 2015. With a growth rate of 29.9%, Taiwan ranks third among Asian countries, following China and Korea.

Currently, Taiwan enjoys visa free privileges to Japan, but still need to have their passports verified, fingerprints and photos taken at the gate. Once the preclearance facilities are opened, the Japanese government will assign examiners to Taiwan and have Taiwanese passengers checked before entering Japan’s territory. If a passenger has illegal immigration records, the person will receive notification that he or she is not allowed to board the plane. For regular passengers, they only need to show their passports upon arrival, which saves a lot of time.

Edited by Olivia Yang

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