This month Japan will start a pilot test to “analyze the safety” of destinations, allowing the entry of tourists from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore, according to the announcement of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Travelers will have to have the full vaccination schedule and the booster dose, and will only be allowed to visit delimited areas, where contagions are not high.
The government has explained that small groups from these four countries will be allowed access in organized trips and under the strict supervision of the Japanese authorities. With this pilot test, the intention is to evaluate the effectiveness of the sanitary measures and to develop new recommendations for a future return of tourists from all over the world.
Following the announcement, the Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism stressed the “extreme importance” of international tourism for the Japanese economy “and for the revitalization of regional economies”.
In early May, prime minister Fumio Kishida said that Japan could reopen to foreign visitors in June. The country aims to ease its border control restrictions and reopen its borders to international tourists just in time for the summer season. Kishida reiterated the country’s tourism goals at a City of London Corporation event held in the capital. “We will further relax controls, so that in June it will be possible to enter the country as smoothly as other G7 nations,” said Kishida.
Japan has kept its borders closed to visitors from around the world since the start of the pandemic in 2020, and until a few months ago also banned the entry of people on new study, work and business travel visas, as part of its strategy to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and its variant omicron.
The country currently allows 10,000 travelers per day to enter its territory, including Japanese citizens and foreign residents and new residents on the above-mentioned visas or business visitors. This limit, established to organize the testing and review capabilities of the mandatory bureaucratic procedures for all persons entering the country, will be extended to 20,000 in June.
Last March, the government announced that it would begin to relax its infection prevention measures in the face of the decline in infections both in Japan and globally, which included allowing access to people with short and medium-term visas, although it maintained the tourist ban.
The Japanese archipelago, which has never applied mandatory confinement during the pandemic nor conducted large-scale covid testing, has accumulated some 8.4 million coronavirus infections and 30,000 deaths, the lowest mortality rate in the G7. In 2019, Japan hosted 31.9 million foreign visitors, who spent 4.81 trillion yen.