Japan gives visa to ex-Thai PM Thaksin

TOKYO, Aug 15, 2011 (AFP) - Japan said Monday it had given a visa to former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who has lived in exile since a 2006 military coup and wants to visit Japan next week.

The special entry permit was granted after the new Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra, a younger sister of Thaksin, requested that Tokyo allow the visit, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

Thaksin hopes to visit Japan from August 22 to 28 and tour northeastern areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, a trip that Bangkok said would help boost bilateral ties.

"The Thai government... takes a policy of not prohibiting former prime minister Thaksin from visiting any country and requested that Japan issue a visa," Edano told reporters.

"In light of the request from the Thai government and various related considerations, we have decided to issue a visa."

Thaksin, who served as Thai prime minister between 2001 and 2006 before being deposed in the coup, has been living in exile in Dubai to avoid a two-year jail term for a corruption conviction.

Japan does not allow the entry of people who have been found guilty of a crime and sentenced to jail terms of more than one year, but the government occasionally makes exceptions.

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