No other travel document opens as many doors around the world as Japan’s passport just edges the number-tow nation.

During the feudal era, there was a period of more than 200 years during which the people of Japan were forbidden to leave the country’s islands, under the edicts of an isolationist policy known as Sakoku. Following the dissolution of the restriction in the mid-19th century, though, it feels like Japanese citizens have been making up for their ancestors’ lost time as they enthusiastically travel abroad.

And it’s now easier for Japanese travelers to see the world than it is for people of any other nation. British consulting firm Henley and Partners has just released its annual passport utility ranking, and has found the Japanese passport to be the “strongest in the world.”

The rankings are compiled by awarding one point to every country a passport holder can enter without a visa, or alternatively, can obtain an entry visa for upon arrival at their destination. Had the calculations been made earlier in the year, Japan would have been tied with Singapore, but as of October, Japanese passport holders no longer need to obtain a visa before departure in order to enter Myanmar/Burma, bringing the total number of countries the Japanese passport opens up easy access to a staggering 190.

Japan was followed by Singapore’s 189 countries, with several countries tied for the next rungs on the ladder.

● Third place (tied): Germany, France, Korea (access to 188 countries)
● Fourth place(tied): Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Finland (187 countries)
● Fifth place: U.S.A., U.K., Norway, Austria, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal (186 countries)

Meanwhile, the passports with the least clout on Henley and Partners’ list were those for Iraq and Afghanistan, tied for 106th place and providing access to just 30 countries each.

With Singapore just one country behind, it’s unclear how long Japan will han on to the top spot for. For the time being, though, the nation can take pride in its passports being the strongest in the world, and, once those new ukiyo-e passports start getting issued next year, also arguably the most beautiful.

Source: Henley and Partners
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