Maldives and Japan have begun talks regarding signing a visa waiver agreement that would exempt ordinary Maldivian travelers from visa requirements in Japan.
The talks took place in a meeting between the Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and the visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa on Sunday.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, Shahid said that Sunday’s talks mark the beginning of efforts to secure visa exemption for Maldivians who travel to Japan.
“The Maldives and Japan, today, initiated a process that will eventually lead to Maldivians being able to travel to Japan without obtaining a prior visa,” he said.
Prior to making their press statements, Shahid and Hayashi witnessed the exchange of notes between Maldives and Japan for the exemption of visa requirements for diplomatic and official passports, for a period of 90 days.
Shahid said that Maldives looks forward to talks with Japan to waive visa requirements for ordinary passport holders as well.
“As a next step, the Maldivians look forward to hold extensive consultations with Japan to waive the visa requirements for ordinary passport holders,” he said.
Shahid said the move will greatly improve the friendship, trade, and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Hayashi promised to seriously consider Maldives’ request.
“Mr. Shahid and I agree that people-to-people exchanges are the cornerstone of bilateral relations,” he said.
Shahid and Hayashi also witnessed the exchange of notes under the Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) between Maldives and Japan, and agreed to strengthen economic and defense cooperation.
The last time a senior Japanese government official visited Maldives was in 2018, by the then-Foreign Minister, Taro Kono.
Hayashi's visit is the first high-level visit by a Japanese government official to the Maldives since then.