Photo/IllutrationA world map shows countries and regions that Japanese passport holders can visit without requiring a visa. Japanese still need visas when heading to Russia, Brazil and many African countries. (Graphic from Henley & Partners Holdings Ltd.’s website)

The Japanese passport is the strongest in the world, according to a report by a British consulting firm, with holders able to enjoy visa-free access to 190 countries and regions.

"The Henley Passport Index," compiled by Henley & Partners Holdings Ltd. and announced on Oct. 9, is based on the number of destinations people can visit without requiring a visa.

The firm assessed the strength of passports of 199 countries and regions using data provided by the International Air Transport Association, a trade association for the world’s airlines, representing about 290 airlines globally.

Taking sole possession of the top ranking, Japan edged out Singapore, whose passport holders have visa-free access to 189 countries and regions.

As of July, Japanese passport holders could access 189 such destinations without visas or by applying for a visa upon arrival, the same number as Singapore. But in October the number for Japan climbed to 190, after Myanmar waived tourist visas for this country's residents.

Commenting on the results, Henley & Partners Group Chairman Christian Kalin said the index "is an important tool for measuring not only the relative strength of the world’s passports but also the extraordinary results that states can achieve when they work hand in hand with their global peers to build a more interconnected and collaborative world."

Germany, France and South Korea shared third, with visa-free access to 188 countries and regions, followed by Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain and Sweden in fourth with 187. The United States and Britain ranked fifth with 186. Hong Kong was 17th with 170, Taiwan was 29th with 148 and China was 71st with 74.

Near the bottom of the list, North Korea ranked 99th with 42, while Afghanistan and Iraq placed 106th, the lowest, with 30.

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, as of July 2017, visitors from 68 countries and regions do not require visas to enter Japan.