Japan has issued a warning to Thais not to stay in Japan beyond the 15-day visa free period or risk being banned for life.
The warning came after a number of Thai visitors abused the visa-free privilege to enter Japan and illegally work there.
Since July 1, Japan introduced free visas for tourists from Thailand who wish to stay in the country up to 15 days. The decision prompted a sharp increase in tourists and about 200 of them reportedly entered Japan with the intention of overstaying and seeking work.
The warning issued today said that any Thais who wished to stay in Japan must apply for a visa before entering Japan. If they enter Japan under the visa-free arrangement and face an untoward incident that forces them to stay on, they must contact the immigration authorities before the 15-days expire.
If they stayed on in Japan without extending the visa, they will be considered illegal. “If they are found to be illegally staying in Japan, they will be immediately deported and banned from returning for between five to ten years. If the case goes to court and they are sentenced to a jail term, they would be banned for life, the warning stipulated.
The Japanese authorities have so far decided against revoking the visa waiver for Thai tourists as the situation is considered under control. The bureau urged Thais to respect the visa-free privilege and to refrain from breaking the rules, which could eventually sour Bangkok's relationship with Tokyo.
Japan relaxed visa requirements for a number of Southeast Asian countries this year, as part of efforts to boost tourism to promote the country's economic growth strategy.