Proposed amendment comes as Japan is expected to announce timetable for unrestricted inbound tourism.

Japan’s Diet (as its parliament is called) is set to hold an extraordinary session on October 3, and among the policies to be discussed is an amendment to the Inn and Hotel Management Law. The most significant change being proposed is one that would allow hotels to refuse lodging to customers for refusing to wear a mask.

In broader terms, the amendment would give hotels the legal authority to require travelers to abide by infection-prevention policies during times of pandemic, and could also be applied to agreeing to have one’s temperature checked upon entering the building.

Under current the current law hotels are not explicitly allowed to deny lodging for travelers for refusing to wear a mask. This might seem surprising for anyone who’s spent time in Japan during the pandemic, where hotels, as well as commercial facilities, pretty much all have prominent written notices asking people to wear masks. The key word here, though, is “asking.” Many of the social distancing and other coronavirus countermeasures in Japan are on a voluntary compliance basis, with the vast majority of the public choosing to do so even without being legally compelled to.

As for why those in favor of the amendment have waited until now, roughly two and a half years into the pandemic, to conceptualize and formally propose it, it’s hard to think of any reason other than the approaching reopening of Japan to unrestricted international tourism. Several barriers to inbound tourism have been done away with since the start of last summer, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to announce a timetable for those that remain in the very near future.

It would be a gross exaggeration to say that the prevailing perception in Japan is that all, or even most, inbound travelers will be coronavirus carriers. At the same time, people in Japan are keenly aware of how much more divisive the topic of masking is in other countries. Currently, the vast majority of people in Japan continue to wear masks in public, even when outdoors. As such, making compliance with hotel mask policies something that can be legally required is unlikely to be much of a change for domestic travelers, but the apparent concern is that inbound travelers may not be as likely to mask up if it’s not a rule, but merely a request.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun via Livedoor News
Top image: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)
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