Japan to relax visa requirements for Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos

Japan plans to relax visa requirements for Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos by the end of this year, as part of efforts to boost tourism to promote the country's economic growth strategy, government sources said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to unveil this plan at the same time that he announces his decision to lift the nation's sales tax rate to 8 percent from the current 5 percent from next April, they added.

As part of its growth strategy crafted in June as one of the "three arrows" of "Abenomics" -- the other policies being drastic monetary easing and massive fiscal spending -- Abe's administration pledged to ease visa requirements to encourage more foreigners to visit Japan.

In July, Japan exempted short-stay tourists from Thailand and Malaysia from having to obtain a visa.

The government is considering allowing the issuance of "multiple-entry visas" for visitors from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, the sources said.

Ahead of Tokyo's 2020 Summer Olympics, Japan will aim to increase the number of tourists from Asia and invigorate the tourism industry at home, they added.

Abe's government plans to submit eight bills related to the growth strategy, such as one including tax cuts to bolster capital spending, to the extraordinary parliamentary session slated to be convened Oct. 15.