PH Embassy in Tokyo vows to address influx of passport applicants


The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo on Thursday vowed to increase its capacity for processing passports once the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) situation further improves in Japan.

“Once the Covid-19 situation in Japan further stabilizes, we will gradually increase our capacity to serve passport applicants until we return to pre-pandemic levels and we greatly appreciate the public’s understanding and cooperation in this regard,” Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Robespierre Bolivar said as he reported an influx of passport applicants, especially at the embassy in Tokyo.

The embassy previously entertained walk-in applicants, but after its reopening in May 2020 when Japan lifted its coronavirus state of emergency, it shifted to an appointment-only system.

The move, Bolivar said, was to ensure the applicants’ and its staff’s well-being while delivering essential consular services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

To date, the embassy serves an average of 1,400 passport applicants per month.

“We have limited and semi-enclosed space in the consular area of the Embassy, so through a time and motion study, and given the Covid-19 prevention parameters we need to strictly implement, we determined the maximum number of applicants we can entertain every day. We gradually increase this maximum number of applicants when local conditions allow it,” Bolivar said.

The official, meanwhile, noted that the embassy provides additional services, such as the extension of the validity of passports, to applicants who have urgent travel needs, including those who have family members with medical emergencies.

The statement came after a Twitter user on Thursday reported to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. a “half-year backlog” of applications at the embassy.

Since the embassy uses an automated appointment system, Bolivar said the concerned Filipino must be referring to the earliest date he could get an appointment. “All applicants who have confirmed appointments are entertained on the day of the appointment.”

He reminded the public to refrain from making double appointments with both the Philippine Embassy and Consulates General in Japan.

“Some applicants make double appointments though with both the Embassy in Tokyo and in one of our Consulates General. We ask the public to refrain from making double appointments since this prevents other applicants from requesting those slots,” he said.

Aside from Japan, the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. had previously reported a surge in demand for dual citizenship, passport, and visa services.

Source: Philippines News agency