As the year is ending and everybody is celebrating their New Year holidays, the news will be filled with stories of people vacationing in other countries.
According to the passport statistics of 2017 released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a surprising one in four Japanese have passports.
What is the passport holding rate in other countries?
According to this Forbes’ article , the US passport holding rate is 42% (2017). Canada is 66% (2016), and the UK (England and Wales only) is 76% (2016).
And all these numbers are still higher than Japan.
One of the reasons why many Japanese do not possess a passport is because Japan is an Island. In Europe, visiting a foreign country is akin to visiting a neighbouring town since they are still reachable by car or bus. They also have the Schengen Visa that lets people travel seamlessly from country to country without passports check.
You can reach Paris from London in 2.5 hours via the Eurostar High Speed train; it feels like a domestic trip.
As a side note, Chinese passport holding rate is also surprisingly low: it is said that it is still about 5%. However, there is no doubt that the number will go up in the future.
■ Three reasons Japanese are not interested in overseas travel
The reason for not going abroad for each person is different, but some people are not interested in overseas travel to begin with for the following reasons.
- Close friends and family do not travel
Looking at the passport holding rate by prefecture, 40% of all passports are held by people from 1 city and 3 prefectures (Tokyo · Kanagawa · Saitama · Chiba).
The worst 3, Aomori, Iwate and Akita have single digit passport holding numbers.
If people around you do not travel overseas there are less conversations about overseas trips and it’s not a consideration to people as a possible holiday activity.
Small and medium enterprises also do not allow long holidays. Travel expenses also tend to be higher during the season and it doesn’t make sense to just travel for a few days.
- Preparing to travel can be daunting
To travel overseas, preparation can be quite daunting. Things like applications have to be filled, currency has to be exchanged, insurance has to be bought, SIM cards have to be purchased.
There are many joys to traveling, but if this pre-travel phase is considered cumbersome, they will not take the initiative to travel.
- Satisfied in Japan
Japan has everything that one needs. It has four seasons, with snowy mountains on one side and sandy beaches on the other, with tiny villages to bustling metropolises to visit.
Also compared to the past, these days there’s less mystery surrounding foreign countries because of television and the internet.
One of the best passports to possess is a Japanese passport.
In the recent “Henley Passport Index 2018” survey to determine the degree of freedom of passports, presented by Henry & Partners, Japan tied with Singapore for first place. In fact you can travel to 180 countries with no visa (or a visa on arrival). It would be a waste not to use such a convenient passport.
Of course it is important to deepen the understanding of one’s own country and international travel has its own hassles, but if you slowly expanding your horizons, then one day you might travel internationally.
Article contributed by Japan Truly