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More M'sians flock to Japan
Publication Date : 16-12-2013
The number of Malaysians visiting Japan hit a record high this year, so much so that the Japanese government is encouraged to have surau (prayer rooms for Muslims) in airports, said Japanese Consul-General Ryuji Noda.
“As of this month, the number stands at about 120,000, which is 30 per cent higher than last year. We are happy with the increase,” he said, adding that the visits were mostly for business or leisure.
For leisure, he noted that Malaysians tend to make a beeline to Hokkaido for skiing.
“The increase in Malaysian visitors has spurred the Japanese government to set up surau in airports and encourage restaurants to serve halal food. Such a move will also be good for Indonesian and Middle Eastern visitors to Japan,” he said.
Noda was speaking at the birthday celebration of Emperor Akihito, the Emperor of Japan, which was held at the E&O Hotel in Penang recently.
Effective July 1, Malaysians with biometric passports that have embedded microchips no longer need to obtain a visa to enter Japan for a short-term stay.
The visa exemption had been introduced as part of the 40th anniversary of Asean-Japan friendship and cooperation.
Those without biometric passports will still need to undergo the seven-step visa application process.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Emperor Akihito, as the Crown-Prince, had visited the Esplanade in 1970 and planted a tree there.
“The tree has grown well and has become a symbol of the ties between Penang and Japan,” he said at the event attended by about 300 guests, including state government officials and other diplomats.