Media Release by Phillip Ruddock
Former Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (1996 - 2003)
Visa Free Entry to Japan for Short-term Visitors from Australia
The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today welcomed the Japanese Government's decision to allow Australian tourists visa free entry to Japan.
Speaking during the visit to Australia of the Japanese Foreign Minister, Mr Masahiko Komura, Mr Ruddock said the decision is an important milestone in the development of the Australia-Japan relationship.
"The number of Australians travelling to Japan has increased over recent years, with more than 56,000 Australians travelling to Japan in 1997", Mr Ruddock said.
Under the new visa free arrangements, people holding valid Australian passports will be able to enter Japan without a visa for a period of up to 90 days, effective from 1 December 1998.
Visa free travel will apply to Australian tourists and short-term business visitors to Japan, on the condition that they do not undertake any form of paid work, service or activity in Japan.
Australians already have similar visa free access to the US, Canada, Spain and France.
The decision by the Japanese Government follows the introduction of the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) system for Japanese nationals in November 1996.
Under the ETA system, travel agents and airlines offices can provide Japanese tourists and short-term business visitors travelling to Australia with a 'one-stop-travel-shop' service. Authority to travel to Australia is granted within seconds through an ETA computer link between the agent and the DIMA mainframe in Australia, without having to make a written application.
Since the introduction of the ETA system on 11 September 1996, three million ETAs have been issued worldwide, with more than 70 per cent of people coming to Australia now obtaining an ETA for visit and short-term business purposes.
The ETA system offers a number of features which benefit agents, airlines and travellers alike. These include free access for all eligible travel agents and airlines to the ETA system which enables them to offer an enhanced range of services to travellers, to pre-clear for journeys to Australia, and make flight bookings and other travel arrangements.
In 1997 Australia welcomed more than 810,000 visitors from Japan, with 98 per cent of Japanese travellers taking advantage of the ETA system, making Japan the highest volume ETA country.
"These reciprocal arrangements will play a crucial role in the continuing development of cultural and commercial relations between Japan and Australia," Mr Ruddock said.
"In an increasingly competitive tourism market, both the ETA and the new visa free travel arrangements for Australians will make it easier for Japanese and Australians alike to take holidays and conduct business in each other's countries."
Thursday, 5 November 1998
Last update: 10 May 2007 at 16:02 AEST