Visitors to the Japanese island of Okinawa
will have an easier time getting hold of a visa in the future, with the government confirming on Sunday (November 9th) that it will relax entry requirements for visitors.
Immigration procedures to the beautiful tropical island will also be simplified, allowing more people to visit Japan's southernmost prefecture without incident.
"Okinawa will be a trigger for the revival of the Japanese economy through the promotion of tourism and creation of international innovation," said Masaaki Taira, senior vice minister in the Cabinet Office, at the meeting in Naha,
the prefectural capital.
Previously, Okinawa's designation as a zone of special strategic importance has meant that getting to it with a tourist visa was a more complicated procedure than elsewhere in Japan, particularly due to the presence of a US military base.
Other than Okinawa,
the Kansai region, the city of Niigata
and three other areas have been designated as strategic special zones.
Quite apart from the stunningly beautiful weather, tropical island feel and gorgeous beaches, Okinawa
boasts a distinct culture that is quite apart from what is found on mainland Japan. It is the birthplace of karate and has produced a large number of famous musicians, including pop singer Namie Amuro.
The easiest way to get to Okinawa
from the mainland is by plane, since ferry services have been cut dramatically in recent years. Low cost airlines fly between Okinawa
(Naha) and Tokyo Narita, Osaka
Kansai, although prices can still seem disproportionately steep.
However, it's worth it since tourists are able to enjoy a unique culture, stunning stretches of white sand and the subtropical climate.
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