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Passport power puts Asia at top of table

Japanese passport holders can jet off to 85% of the world visa-free.

How powerful is your passport? Well, if you’re a holder of a document for the United Kingdom or the United States, the answer is not as strong as it was. But if you’re a Japanese citizen, you continue to be in luck.

The Henley Passport Index released its annual report this month and crowns Japan as top of the pile for the fifth year running.

The index is based on data from the International Air Transport Association and ranks the world’s 199 passports according to the number of destinations holders can access visa-free.

Japanese citizens can currently visit no fewer than 193 places without a visa, out of a possible 227 destinations. In other words, around 85 percent of the world.

South Korea and Singapore tied for second place with 192 destinations and Germany and Spain came in third with 190 visa-free places apiece.

Meanwhile, the UK and the US came in at sixth and seventh places respectively. Their scores were entirely respectable at 187 and 186, but bear in mind that just a decade ago they held the top spot. The report concludes it’s unlikely they will ever regain their number one billing.

Afghanistan languished in bottom position, with just 27 places open visa-free to its population.

The report also noted that although Asian countries continue to dominate the top of the index, the Gulf states' passports are becoming increasingly important, something that has been indicated as a key strength in the coming year. The United Arab Emirates, for example, has skyrocketed from 64th place in 2013 to 15th place this year. It’s believed Kuwait and Qatar will sign a visa-free deal with the European Union this year, giving them, too, a powerful boost towards the top end of the table.

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