Japan Relaxes COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Japan Relaxes COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Hetsumiya Shrine (photo by Toshiko Sakurai)

Japan has continued to slowly ease its travel restrictions for foreign visitors to the country as it hopes to move closer to a full tourism recovery.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida today made two significant announcements regarding the sector, according to the Japan Times. Kishida will allow unvaccinated tourists who are part of a packaged tour group to enter the country. And, beginning on September 7, the Prime Minister said he will rise the daily cap on foreign arrivals to Japan to 50,000 people daily.

“In countries worldwide, international exchange is growing. To participate in these exchanges and to benefit from the weaker yen, we will raise the daily arrival cap to 50,000 from September 7, as well as allow (tourists on) nonguided tours from all countries to enter (Japan),” Kishida said.

Tourists must still have a travel advisor, or “sponsor” as they are known in Japan, to enter the country. The advisor serves as a conduit between a foreign traveler and the government and health ministries if the visitor contracts COVID-19. Individual tourists without proof of a local sponsor will not be allowed to enter Japan.

The country has slowly, but consistently, eased its restrictions. Just six months ago its daily cap on foreign visitors was set at 3,500 per day as a precaution.

The latest announcement should be a further boon to one of the most popular destinations in the Far East and certainly pleases its tourism officials such as Om Prakash, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ).

“The ACCJ believes these are important steps toward reviving the economy,” Prakash said in an email to the Japan Times. “We highly encourage Japan to align travel policies with other G7 countries, and in order to restore Japan’s reputation as a welcoming and open place, the government should move quickly to restore visa waiver eligibility for business travelers and tourists from countries of origin previously eligible for visa-free entry.”

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