I've been visiting Japan for something like twenty years with Australian passports and never needed to obtain a visa in advance. I've always been granted 90-day stays. I was there a few months before the pandemic and a few months after it.

But just now I was reading a July 20, 2023 article in the Sydney Morning Herald about how Singapore's passport is now the best in the world and also which countries Australia has lost and gained visa-free access to.

Here's the two places they mention Australia-Japan:

The Australian passport’s ascension is due to increasing its visa-free access to 186 destinations around the world, up from 185 earlier this year, after losing visa-free access to Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea and Uganda, and gaining access to Japan, Mongolia, Suriname and Djibouti. It’s Australia’s highest ranking since 2015, and it shares the sixth position with Hungary and Poland.

Newest visa-free destinations for Australians

  1. Japan
  2. Mongolia
  3. Suriname
  4. Djibouti

So is this just a typical ignorant journalism howler, or is there some technical change like maybe we were on a visa-waiver regime before and now we're on a visa-free regime?

I'm Googling for more details but our experts here are more cluey than the Google (-:

1 Answer 1


So is this just a typical ignorant journalism howler

Yes and no

What they're referring to is the release of the annual 2023 Henley Passport Index

The fact that it is annual means that the previous 2022 index takes into account the fact that Australia (like all countries) lost visa-free access there during the pandemic.

It was restored on Oct, 11th, 2022, and so counts as a difference between this year's index with visa-free travel and last year's index (Published on January, 15th 2022) without visa-free entry.

For anyone that doesn't know, the report does state that Australia and all gained visa-free entry to Japan, which is factually true, but it's a restoration of the right, so I'd assume it's a copy paste thing.

  • 11
    Ah I actually thought of that possibility but considered it too silly to be the likely reason behind the news. Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 12:33
  • Basically, then, every newspaper in the world is running a story like this about "new" visa free access to Japan?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 17:35
  • 4
    Talking about "earlier this year" while referencing a document that is only updated once a year seems like a howler to me. Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 17:38

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