Japan will abolish a slew of Covid border controls from October 11, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in New York, in a move that looks set to revive the tourism industry. Individual visitors will be allowed to enter, and Japan will reinstate visa waivers, Kishida said at a news conference in New York. The cap on daily arrivals in Japan will also be ended, he said. Later in the day, at the New York Stock Exchange, Kishida said Japan “will relax border control measures to be on par with the US,” spurring applause from the audience.
Japan’s move to scrap most restrictions on foreign tourists comes as the country’s deadliest wave of the pandemic recedes. It also coincides with the yen slumping to its lowest levels against the dollar in almost a quarter of a century, making the archipelago an inexpensive, attractive destination for visitors from overseas.
Discounts for domestic travel will be introduced at the same time, Kishida added. After seeing a tourism boom before the pandemic, airlines, hotels and retailers are all seeking to regain the business they lost.
Kishida’s cautious attitude to opening up after the first waves of the pandemic won him plaudits from voters still nervous about infections, while business leaders have complained about damage to the economy and urged him to fling the doors open.
Before Covid, Japan let visitors from 68 countries and regions, including the US, stay for as long as 90 days without a visa. Visitor numbers reached a record of almost 32 million in 2019, slumping to about 246,000 last year.