Eye On Asia: Japan Opens to Tourists

Japan is slowly moving along in the process of reopening its borders, with tourists now granted conditional entry to the country.

Japan has this week doubled its daily limit on visitor arrivals to 20,000.

For passengers from 98 countries and regions, the previous on-arrival Covid testing and quarantine will not be required, even for unvaccinated people. China and South Korea are among the nations on this list.

For 99 other countries, including India, passengers will be exempted from tests and MIQ if they are triple vaccinated.

Entrants are still required to test negative in a Covid test within 72 hours before departing the country for Japan.

From June 10th, tourism is back for Japan, but only for those tour groups sponsored by a travel agency licensed in Japan, or certain other national agencies. Individual tourists will still be barred from the country, and masks will be compulsory for tourists.

Japan is among the most cautious nations in Asia and much of the West.

"Strengthening Japan's border measures was necessary for us to ensure that our medical system was on a sound footing and provided time to administer vaccinations," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said when announcing the new regime last month. "However, from now on, we will further relax our border measures."

Politically, the move to open up has been popular with voters, boosting the polls for PM Kishida ahead of upper house elections

Japan's tourism industry has taken a major hit during the last two years, with tourism spending plummeting to around $1.4B NZD last year. Business closures and job losses have had a huge impact across the sector.

But while the tourists may be back, Japan is nowhere near where it was pre-pandemic. In 2019, Japan received 31.9 million foreign visitors, on holiday or business, that’s nearly 90,000 a day.

The travel industry has unsurprisingly been thrilled at the news, albeit a limited access regime.

What’s still missing are the Chinese tourists, which number around 25% of all foreign visitors in 2019. Its still unclear when China will lift lockdowns in cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

- Asia Media Centre