HK signs Working Holiday Scheme with Japan (with photos)

     Hong Kong and Japan today (October 27) exchanged a Note Verbale to mark the establishment of a new bilateral working holiday scheme to benefit young people of the two places from January 1, 2010.

     The letters for exchanging the Note Verbale were signed by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, and Consul-General and Ambassador, Mr Shigekazu Sato.

     Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr Cheung said Japan was the first Asian country to establish a working holiday scheme with Hong Kong. The scheme will strengthen the bilateral ties between Japan and Hong Kong.

     The Working Holiday Scheme seeks to enable young people to gain first-hand living and working experience in a foreign culture while they are holidaying. It is a very effective way to broaden their horizons and widen their exposure.

     "Japan is one of the most favoured tourist destinations of Hong Kong people. It is also Hong Kong's third largest trading partner. The scheme with Japan offers a golden opportunity for our young people to learn more about life in Japan by taking up temporary jobs while touring around and making friends.

     "They can also make use of their stay to explore traditional Japanese philosophy and culture and get a first-hand feel of Japanese pop culture," Mr Cheung said.

     The scheme with Japan is the fifth bilateral working holiday scheme that Hong Kong has signed with other places. Hong Kong established such bilateral schemes with New Zealand and Australia in 2001, Ireland in 2005 and Germany in 2009.

     So far, more than 9.200 Hong Kong youngsters have benefited from their stay in these countries while 1,260 young people from New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Germany have experienced Hong Kong's cosmopolitan and vibrant way of life.

     There are 250 places per year from each side under the scheme with Japan. Participants will be allowed to stay up to 12 months in each other's territory for holiday and to take up employment to finance their stay.

     The Hong Kong Immigration Department or the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong will issue a working holiday visa to a successful applicant from Japan or Hong Kong respectively who meets the following eligibility criteria among others:

* the applicant must be either a Japanese citizen possessing a valid passport of Japan , or a HKSAR or British National (Overseas) passport holder ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, who is aged between 18 and 30 and intends primarily to holiday in Japan or Hong Kong for a specified period of not more than one year;

* the applicant must not be accompanied by dependent family members;

* the applicant must possess a return travel ticket or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket, and sufficient funds for their maintenance during the period of initial stay in Japan or Hong Kong; and

* the applicant must hold sufficient medical insurance for the duration of stay.

     Visa application procedures for Hong Kong applicants can be accessed via the website from December. Japanese applicants may contact the Hong Kong Immigration Department by phone at 2824 6111 or download the necessary information from the department's website

Ends/Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Issued at HKT 19:18