‘Meticulous is, to me, one word that sums up a lot of what Japan is all about, especially when it comes to processes.’

HAVE you ever tried to apply for a Japan visa? Like most visa applications for Filipinos, it’s an eye-opener of an experience. Because we as a people have a reputation for “TNT” or tago-ng-tago,” most of the developed countries impose what appear to be a thousand and one requirements for a visa application – from your income tax return to your bank certificate and, when necessary, your employment certificate, company documentation and the like.

The rationale is summed up in an often-heard comment from a US Consul – “we are not convinced you have sufficient economic ties to your country that will make you return home.”

In short – we suspect you’ll enter our country, and never leave.

So, whether you apply for a US visa (the most coveted?), a Schengen visa (which affords you entry into the most “touristy” countries of Europe), or a Japanese visa, expect to feel like you’re jumping hoops or being asked to walk on broken glass. Some people find the process almost insulting (you have to overcome the suspicion that you’re a TNT candidate) but many go through the process nevertheless because, heck, who doesn’t enjoy traveling even on the thinnest of budgets?

But there’s something about the Japanese visa application that, to me, sets them apart.

And it has to do with a considerable amount of meticulousness on matters others may have ignored or just waved away.

Two examples are the application form. There’s an “old” version and a “new” version. The only clear difference to me is the size of the box at the upper right hand corner where you stick your passport photo. Your visa application will not be accepted if you use the old form with the bigger 2×2 inch box. You have to use the new form with the proper box for a 2×1.4-inch photo.

Big deal?

One of the things they also want you to submit is your ITR. It can be a photocopy. But the photocopy has to be on an A4 sized paper. Use an A3 and the application is returned to you.

Big deal?

These two examples may sound trivial to us Filipinos so used to the concept of “Pwede na ‘yan.” And that’s why so many things about Japan stand in stark contrast to so many things about the Philippines.

Meticulous is, to me, one word that sums up a lot of what Japan is all about, especially when it comes to processes.

They clearly thrive on order, while we thrive on chaos. But which is better? The answer depends on your appetite for “excitement!”


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