The Japanese government will further ease visa requirements for Chinese citizens as part of its plan to attract 40 million foreign tourists every year by 2020.
The plan was adopted at a meeting of the Ministerial Council on the Promotion of Japan as a Tourism-Oriented Country on Friday, Japan Times reported.
The newspaper also reported that the new visa rules are expected to be carried out before this summer.
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on its website late last month that 5-year, multi-entry visas will be extended to 10 years, particularly for Chinese businessmen, academics and artists. Visa requirements for certain applicants will also be lowered. Previously, multiple-entry individual visas were issued to high-income Chinese tourists with a 5-year validity.
Meanwhile, single-entry visa application procedures will also be simplified for students from 75 universities under the direct supervision of the Chinese Ministry of Education. These include registered undergraduates and post-graduates, as well as alumni who graduated from the 75 schools within 3 years.
The announcement came after Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, last month in Beijing, the first since one held in Seoul in November 2015.
Liu Junhong, a researcher at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the easing of Japan’s visa policies is aimed at boosting the country’s sluggish economy, which is reeling from deflation and weak demand.
Japan remains one of the favorite overseas destinations for Chinese holidaymakers. Data from the Japan National Tourism Organization showed that the number of Chinese tourists to Japan more than doubled last year to reach 5 million.
More noticeable for local retailers is the spending power of Chinese tourists, who accounted for more than 40 percent of the total spending of foreign visitors to Japan in 2015.
Russians and Indians are also on the list of beneficiaries in this visa easing policy.
Prior to Japan, many other countries have issued 10-year visas for Chinese citizens. Back in November 2014, the US government started issuing multi-entry business and tourist visas valid for up to 10 years in China.
The United Kingdom and Australia are also considering the extension of their visa validity to 10 years.
China’s luxury goods websites have undergone explosive growth in recent years due to the great potential size of the Chinese market. The websites have expanded their product offerings to things like luxury cars and private aircraft, which would have been inconceivable a few years ago. But consumers continue to complain about product quality - a life and death issue for luxury goods vendors.
China’s luxury e-commerce provider secoo.com (Secoo) got a lot of attention for a promotional event it held with high-end sports carmaker Lamborghini on May 16, in which it put luxury cars up for sale on its website.
This activity is just one example of China’s booming e-commerce market for luxury goods. Until a few years ago, consumers in China had been reluctant to buy luxury goods online. But now, the idea of buying a plane over the Internet no longer seems so unusual.
And buying luxury goods online has grown in popularity. "More and more consumers will choose to shop online for luxury goods due to its convenience and lower prices," said Chen Wei, a senior consultant at Beijing-based ChinaVenture.
"I have bought luxury goods on Secoo and other luxury goods websites several times," a Shanghai-based consumer surnamed Wang told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"But I have only bought stuff that isn’t that expensive. For really expensive things, I still like to go to brand stores because I’m afraid of buying knockoffs."
Wang has good reason to be concerned.
First, it is a universal phenomenon that only a few of China’s luxury e-commerce sites have been authorized by big luxury brands.
After-sales service is another troublesome quality issue. When a customer isn’t happy with an item bought from a brand store, he can always take it back for a refund or exchange.
"But that isn’t very easy when it happens online," Chen said, noting that returning a product online can take a lot of time and energy.
Li, Secoo’s CEO, offered a solution to the problem.
"We have built offline experience stores in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai where consumers can touch products before buying them online and get help with products they have already bought online," he said.
This kind of one-stop service model can help solve the after-sales service problem and bring in consumers, Chen said. "But this model is still rare in China’s luxury e-commerce industry," he noted.
Countries are lining up to enter trade talks with Britain in the wake of the decision to leave the European Union.
The country will be free to negotiate its own deals after quitting the EU, and business secretary Sajid Javid is already preparing for a hectic schedule of visits to countries across the world.
US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan has called for the US to start negotiating a new free trade deal with Britain to ‘show solidarity’ and ensure a ‘smooth relationship’ post-Brexit.
David Cameron has met top business advisors and said companies must not be ‘fixated’ on the EU and should strive to carve out new opportunities beyond.
Former Waitrose boss Lord Mark Price, who is now trade minister, is set to visit China, Hong Kong and Brazil.
Officials in Australia and South Korea have also been in touch to discuss new partnerships, and discussions with India could begin soon.
And New Zealand has offered to lend its battle-hardened negotiators to help Britain out.