Japan mulls resuming foreign tourist entry in June
Visitors wearing protective face masks walk past the Kumamoto Castle in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday. (Bloomberg photo)
The Japanese government is making final arrangements to resume accepting foreign tourists in June, further relaxing its border controls imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
Since March, Japan has been easing its Covid-19 border controls, planning to double the cap on overseas arrivals to 20,000 per day starting on June 1. The country will accept foreign tourists within the quota, the sources said.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to announce the plan Thursday at the earliest, they added.
As many advanced countries have eased Covid-19 restrictions after the peak of the Omicron variant, Japan has been the only member among the Group of Seven industrialised countries that continues to refuse entry to foreign tourists.
Japan on Tuesday began accepting small-scale tours for vaccinated tourists from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore as a trial toward the resumption of foreign tourism.
The number of foreign visitors to Japan marked a record 31.88 million in the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Amid Covid-19 travel restrictions at home and abroad, however, the figure plunged to a record low of 245,900 in 2021.
Viewing tourism as a key driver of economic growth, Japan aims to attract up to 60 million foreign tourists in 2030.