Since 1 July 2013, the Embassy of Japan has reactivated the 90-day visa exemption for the holders of Malaysian biometric passports compliant with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). For the holders of generic Malaysian passports, the application for the Japan visa is still required. The Embassy of Japan emphasized in the statement of announcement that the reactivation of the scheme will facilitate the inbound traffic of visitors to Japan. In the long run, the frequent business and cultural interactions between two nations will be expected.
The visa exemption arrangement between Japan and Malaysia was existed before 1993. In 1993, the economic downturn in Japan made the scheme call off. The current implementation of the visa-free scheme from the Japanese Government was definitely a key note for the celebration of 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan cooperation. However, the years of efforts over the technological advancement of the biometric data applications by the Malaysian Government should also be credited for this success.
Malaysia, as one of the developing countries over the globe, was the first nation initiated the issuance of the biometric-chip passports in 1998. Once the holder presented the Malaysian passport embedded with the data chip at any checkpoints of Malaysian customs and excises, the fingerprint and facial recognition scanner could retrieve the digital photograph of his or her face and two thumbprints. As the listed physical characteristics of a person take its uniqueness and permanence, the high accuracy for identifying the person’s profile at a relatively high speed was perceived. Therefore, the effective streamlining for the visitors at the checkpoints could be achieved.
This biometric measure has been also widely adopted in most international airports around the world like Kuala Lumpur International Airport to strengthen the national security after the 911 incidents. On 2 February 2010, the Malaysian Government started issuing ICAO compliant microchip passports with the validity of two years or five years for the choice of its citizens. It is estimated that more visa-free privileges will be granted for the holders of this Smart e-Passport from other countries in the near future.
Photo Credit: CLF