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In a ranking carried out by the Henley’s Passport Index this year, Japanese passport knocks Singapore to second place and tops the list as the world’s most powerful passport. This was fuelled by the move made by Japan to gain visa-free access into Myanmar early October which gave all Japanese citizens visa-free access to 190 countries all over the world.
The Henley Passport Index updated in real-time ranks all passports of the world according to the number of nations their holders can travel visa-free to. It provides this information in a comprehensive list using data gotten from the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information, International Air Transport Association (IATA), extensive research and continuous updates.
Often considered the most reliable databank of reference standards, the HPI ranking is important for countries to know their areas of strengths and improve the travel freedom of their citizens.
While Japan and American citizens may have access to almost the same number of nations, Japanese citizens may not require visas to visit some countries like China, India, Vietnam, and some others while American citizens do.
With Japan leading, other countries that made it to the top ten include Singapore at second place with visa-free access to 189 countries. Germany, France, South Korea come in at third place with access to 188 countries. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden, and Spain follow closely at spot four with visa-free access to 187 countries. Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and United States are at fifth place with visa-free access to 186 countries.
Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, and Canada take the sixth position with access to 185 countries. With access to 183 countries, Australia, Malta and Greece take the seventh position with New Zealand and Czech Republic following closely with access to 182 countries.
Iceland takes the ninth position with access to 181 countries while Hungary, Slovenia, and Malaysia take the tenth with visa-free access to 180 countries. At the bottom of the rating are countries like Iraq and Afghanistan with access to 30 countries, closely followed by Syria, Somalia, and Pakistan which show their passports are the least desirable.
The happiness of a country and its relative peace is not tied to the HPI ranking in any way. Among the happiest countries in the world, Japan falls massively to the 54th nation despite topping the HPI ranking.
Furthermore, through this rating, there is a power shift to the East which is quite different from what it was three years ago when United Kingdom and United States Passports were at the top of the ranking.
In the global world of today, mobility is important as citizens of countries want to have the freedom to access opportunities on a global scale and not be limited by the constraints faced as a result of their country of origin. Thus, China’s climb to 71st position from 85th is a step in the right direction since the beginning of last year. Finally, the biggest decade success story of highest climbers on the HPI rating goes to United Arab Emirates who is currently at the 21st ranking, achieving groundbreaking record from the 62nd position it occupied in 2006.