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From October 11th Japan will remove almost all remaining entry requirements and allow normal tourism after more than 2.5 years of strict restrictions. During a press conference in New York on Thursday, September 22, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that Japan would abolish its daily arrival cap. Additionally, the country will allow individual tourists visa-free entry, allowing Americans to enter the country without having to go through the cumbersome process of applying for a tourist visa.
A long time is coming
Travelers have been keeping their eyes on Japan as most of the world began reopening earlier this year. During this time, Japan made only tiny adjustments that allowed travel under very strict conditions. The country did not allow foreigners to enter for tourism purposes until June 10. Even then, the restrictions imposed on travelers willing to clear the hurdle of obtaining a visa were significant.
Travelers who wanted to visit Japan could only do so by booking with a tour operator. While in the country, they could not leave their tour group for any reason. In addition, travelers were required to comply with any local regulations or instructions from their tour guide. Not the most exciting way to spend a vacation. Not surprisingly, tourism has done little to recover under these restrictions.
The latest rule change is welcome news for international tourists and Japanese citizens alike. Digital Minister Taro Kono, expressed which is likely to be felt by many on Twitter alongside the announcement. “FinallyJapan will reopen the border…”
Eventually, Japan will reopen the border. Visa waiver is back, no daily limit and free single visits.
— KONO Taro (@konotaromp) 09/22/2022
Which rules still apply?
Traveling to Japan will be a lot easier on October 11, but some restrictions still apply. Specifically, visitors entering Japan must either have received three shots of a Covid-19 vaccine or take a PCR test prior to arrival. Fully vaccinated people will need to be tested before departure and will be able to travel to Japan much like they did before the pandemic. The use of masks is regulated by the local government in certain situations, e.g. B. in most public transport, still strongly recommended. Travelers should bring a few for the trip, just in case.
Why the change?
Last week, Travel Off Path reported that Japan is considering easing restrictions this fall. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s recent announcement confirms this, marking October 11 as the set date when restrictions will be eased. The move comes after historic lows for the Japanese currency. The yen is the weakest in 24 years against the strong US dollar.
Japan has been slow to reopen compared to other Asian destinations like Indonesia or Thailand, and it’s paying the price. Japan’s previous visa requirements and severe travel restrictions have made the country virtually inaccessible to most travelers, leading to a sharp drop in tourism revenue. Japan welcomed 31.88 million foreign visitors in 2019, setting a new record. This year numbers weren’t even close to 2019, and the country is keen to regain tourism revenue.
How bad is it?
To show how little effect Japan’s attempt has “Opening” for tourism in June this year, consider the following statistic. In July this year, Japan welcomed about 144,500 international visitors. In July 2019, Japan received over 3 million! Overall, July 2022 showed 95.2% reduction of visitors compared to 2019. It is clear that Japan still had to take some steps to regain its foothold in the tourism sector and the country has finally made the decision to do so.
Welcome news for travelers
Before the pandemic, Japan steadily increased the number of visitors it welcomed each year. Interest in the unique destination grew and the country seemed to continue to break records. Japan’s outstanding natural beauty and distinctive architecture make for a scenic vacation, and many travelers have long awaited today’s news.
In the words of Digital Minister Taro Kono: “Finally Japan will open again[!]”
This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest news related to your next trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
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Disclaimer: Current Travel Rules and Restrictions are subject to change without prior notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Before travelling, check with your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm entry of your nationality and/or any changes in travel requirements. Travel Off Path does not endorse travel contrary to government advice