Inbound foreign tourists will have to comply with numerous requirements.

Earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, while giving a speech in London, pledged his intention to begin opening Japan’s borders this summer, with the eventual goal of making entry into Japan for inbound overseas travelers as smooth as other G7 nations. On Tuesday another high-ranking politician, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Tetsuo Saito, made an even more dramatic announcement: that Japan will be accepting foreign tourists before the end of May.

Saito discussed the plan while speaking with the media following a cabinet meeting in Tokyo. Predictably, however, the country is not ready to fully throw open its borders just yet, and inbound travelers will have to clear several conditions. First, inbound tourists to Japan will need to have had both of their two initial coronavirus vaccination shots and their booster to be eligible for entry. Travelers will be allowed from four countries, the U.S., Australia, Singapore, and Thailand, selected because of their domestic containment of coronavirus variant infections.

The most restrictive stipulation is that inbound travelers must be travelling as part of small tour groups administered by the Japan Tourism Agency, a part of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and the Japan Association of Travel Agents trade group. The tours will visit locations and stay in hotels for which the surrounding community has agreed to act as hosts for the program.

“In reopening Japan to overseas tourism, it is necessary to consider how to foster a sense of understanding and peace of mind,” Saito said. He did not elaborate on how much, if any, free movement will be allowed under the itineraries, or how participants will be monitored to ensure their compliance.

On the same day of the minster’s comments, Tokyo released its weekly coronavirus statistics, with 3,663 confirmed new infections, a decrease of 800 compared to the week before, and nine confirmed deaths.

It’s worth pointing out that this initial format is being used as a trial system by which to gauge the health safety and feasibility of restarting inbound tourism to Japan, and the results will be examined as part of the process of crafting the more relaxed entry protocols that Kishida is hoping to implement this summer.

Source: NHK News Web (1, 2)
Top image: Pakutaso
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