TAIPEI (CNA) – Japan will double its annual quota of working holiday visa for Taiwanese youth from 5,000 to 10,000 starting April, a move intended to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the working holiday program.
The Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA), the de facto Japanese embassy in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic relations, and its counterpart, Taiwan-Japan Relations Association (TJRA), made the announcement on Thursday.
The Taiwan-Japan working holiday program was established in 2009, allowing an annual quota of 2,000 adults aged 18-30 from each country visit the other for up to one year for work and travel.
According to Japan’s top envoy to Taiwan Mikio Numata, the number of Taiwanese applicants exceeded the quota limit the first year it came into effect.
In 2014, Taiwan and Japan raised their respective ceilings to 5,000 people each year, the two have also done away with fees for bilateral working holiday visas.
Numata pointed out that the number of applicants continues to rise rapidly. As of last year, a total of 8,436 people applied.
While delighted to see that young people from Taiwan are interested in Japan, the envoy said he also feels sorry for the many people unable to benefit from the program due to the quota limit.
After a series of bilateral discussions, it was agreed to raise the ceiling for Taiwanese applicants on the 10th anniversary of the program, he said.
A source familiar with the matter told CNA that Japan was responding to a request from Taiwan to raise the quota.
Meanwhile, Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), head of the TJRA, said the quota for Japanese applicants has not been used up, adding that Taiwan needs to work on its appeal to boost Taiwan-Japan exchanges.
Only 200-300 Japanese applied for the program every year, Taiwanese officials said.
Japan is one of 16 countries worldwide to have inked a working holiday deal with Taiwan.
The other 15 are Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, France, Australia, Luxembourg, Canada, South Korea and New Zealand, according to MOFA.
By Elaine Hou and Chung Yu-chen