Jul 18, 2016

    Japanese youth paid $130 to get passports


    YOUNG people in Japan are being offered 10,000 yen (S$130) in cash to help them obtain a passport.

    The move aims to encourage young Japanese people, who are said to be inward-looking, to travel overseas.

    It comes amid a decline in the number of people in their 20s travelling abroad.

    Up to 500 people aged between 18 and 22 will be given 10,000 yen each.

    The campaign, launched on Friday, is organised by Narita International Airport and the Japan Association of Travel Agents (Jata).

    The cash gift comes with some conditions, including that the recipients use the airport for their travels.

    Applicants for the cash gift must also fulfil all four of these conditions:

    Residents of Japan aged 18 to 22 as of April 1 this year.

    Newly obtaining or renewing their passports.

    Will use domestic air routes arriving at or departing from Narita Airport.

    Will go overseas from Narita Airport after buying air tickets or packaged tour services from travel agencies that are members of Jata.

    The overseas trips and domestic flights can be taken on different dates.

    Those who wish to receive the cash gift can download an application form on Narita International Airport's website, attach the necessary documents and send the paperwork by mail.

    Passport applicants must pay fees of 11,000 yen for passports valid for five years, or 16,000 yen for passports valid for 10 years.

    The cash gift, which will be awarded to the first 500 people to apply successfully, will therefore cover most of the costs.

    According to the Japan Tourism Agency, the number of outbound Japanese travellers aged 20 to 24 in 2014 was 1.2 million, a significant decline from 2.02 million in 1996.

    The percentage of Japanese in their 20s who had passports in 2014 was 5.9 per cent, sharply down from 9.5 per cent in both 1995 and 1996.

    These figures underscore the decline in young Japanese people travelling abroad.

    According to an agency survey in 2015 on students in middle school to university, the most common reasons for not wanting to travel abroad were feeling scared, poor safety overseas and the inability to make themselves understood in foreign languages.

    In a tourism action plan devised by the government in March this year, officials have asked related industries to make efforts to encourage more young Japanese to travel abroad.