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Japanese media call for reviewing US visa changes for journalists

This photo taken Dec. 18, 2018, at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, shows Japan's newly designed passport to be introduced in March 2020. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association on Monday called on the U.S. government to reconsider proposed changes to visa rules that limit how long foreign journalists can stay in the country.

    The Japanese association, which represents 129 newspaper companies, news agencies and broadcasters, submitted its request in a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    Under the proposed changes released by the department, representatives of foreign information media will no longer be able to remain in the country for as long as their work requires. Instead, their stay would be limited to 240 days, with an opportunity to extend only once for another 240 days, based on their activities.

    The association said in the letter that correspondents, "based in the U.S., have been playing an essential role in bridging our two countries by providing timely information and analysis." It said 480 days would not be practical for correspondents to be dispatched to local bureaus in the United States, as a term typically lasts four to five years.

    "In many cases, it can take a foreign journalist some time to become sufficiently familiar with U.S. customs, laws, regulations and political structures to provide meaningful media coverage," the association said, also citing the disruptive nature and practical consequences of a short-term visa.

    The Japanese media join media outlets in Asia and Europe in expressing concerns about the possible new visa limits, which The New York Times has criticized as "a self-inflicted wound for the U.S."

    The proposal to remove the non-fixed duration of the status framework, which will also apply to nonimmigrant academic students and exchange visitors, will affect more than 2 million visa holders.

    Fourteen Japanese media organizations with bureaus in the United States, including Kyodo News, voiced their concerns over the proposed changes in a separate letter Monday, calling for an initial period of stay of two years and allowing extensions to be made as necessary.

    Around 160 correspondents at the 14 media organizations are currently based in the United States.

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