Japan to relax visa requirement for Russian visitors amid Putin visit

TOKYO, (Xinhua) — Japan’s foreign ministry announced on Friday relaxation of visa requirements for short-term stay of Russian nationals which will come in effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

The decision, a unilateral move made on the occasion of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan, was aimed at advancing exchanges and “building trust” between the two countries, according to local media.

According to the foreign ministry, the scope of Russian applicants eligible for multiple entry visas for short-term stay with business purposes and for cultural and intellectual figures will be expanded, and the maximum validity period of the visas will be extended from 3 years to 5 years.

Meanwhile, applicants of visas for short-term stay whose travel is financed by themselves won’t need to provide a letter of reference from a guarantor any more.

The move would be a de-facto lifting of sanctions by the G7, as Japan halted bilateral talks on easing visa requirements as part of its sanctions against Russia following the Ukraine crisis.

Putin is on a two-day visit to Japan for talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on territorial issues as well as economic cooperation.

Analysts here have pointed out that chances of solving the territorial dispute between the two countries are slim as differences are hard to iron out.