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Japan opens up with visa-free access to Qataris

The move is anticipated to enhance ties between Doha and Tokyo, further fostering tourism and business visits between the two nations.

Qatari passport holders will be exempt from visas for travel to Japan from 21 August, authorities announced on Tuesday.

The new system will enable Qatari citizens to apply for visas electronically at the Embassy of Japan in Doha. Once passports are registered, travellers can complete the visa waiver registration process online.

Upon arrival at a Japanese airport, Qatari citizens will be required to show the notice of their visa waiver registration on their mobile devices, Qatar’s Ministry of Affairs said in a statement.

The move is expected to strengthen ties between Qatar and Japan and promote tourism and business travel between the two countries.

Qatar-Japan relations

Qatar and Japan have enjoyed friendly relations for several decades. The two countries share a strong economic and trade partnership, with Japan being one of Qatar’s most important trading partners.

The aviation sector plays a crucial role in fostering tourism relations between two countries. Both countries’ national airlines, Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways, have been expanding their flight networks to include more direct routes between their respective capitals, Tokyo and Doha.

Separately, Qatar and Japan have also worked closely on a number of projects, including the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Qatar, which have helped to supply a significant portion of Japan’s energy needs.

Ensuring a stable energy supply of LNG was the main talking point between the Japanese prime minister and Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in July, during the official’s first trip to Doha since assuming office.

 Reports at the time said Sheikh Tamim assured Prime Minister Kishida Fumio that the Gulf country is ready to guarantee a steady LNG supply.

Qatar is one of Japan’s biggest sources of LNG imports, alongside Australia and Malaysia. Japan’s LNG dependence on the Middle East is approximately 20%.

In February 2021, a contract was granted to a Japanese firm to undertake the development and construction of LNG plants as part of the North Field Expansion Project, a crucial element in Qatar’s growth and prosperity, the prime minister said.

In addition to economic ties, Qatar and Japan have also maintained diplomatic relations, with the two countries exchanging visits by high-level officials in recent years.

In 2018, Sheikh Tamim visited Japan, where he met with the now late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and discussed ways to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.