After years of strict restrictions on tourism in Japan, it may soon become easier for people to travel to the country from abroad. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on August 31st that the Japanese government would begin allowing “nonescorted visitors” into the country starting from September 7, 2022. It would also raise the cap on daily arrivals from overseas to 50,000. Further loosening of Japan tourism controls would be considered based on prevailing conditions [Thanks, Japan Times!].
Since the outbreak of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has maintained particularly strict controls on entry from other countries, especially for tourism. In 2019, Japan saw almost 32 million visitors from overseas. But after the imposition of border restrictions, travel and tourism dropped to a trickle. In 2021 less than 250,000 people entered the country from overseas for any reason. In June 2022 the government began allowing foreign tourists back in, but only under strict, guided tour programs. Just 252 tourists entered in June, with 7,903 in July 2022.
Now the country will loosen things a little further, allowing nonescorted visitors as long as they’re on “package tours”. It isn’t clear at this time how the Japanese government defines a “package tour”. Considering the use of “nonescorted”, though, that seems to suggest that at least a planned itinerary for would-be visitors. Tourists will need “sponsors”, travel agencies or other contacts in Japan to contact in case of infection with COVID-19. Backpackers and solo travelers without a local contact might not be allowed in. Prime Minister Kishida also mentioned that the requirement for a pre-arrival PCR coronavirus test would also be dropped for travelers with at least three doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Japanese tourism restrictions will ease from September 7, 2022. The Tokyo Game Show is set to kick off on September 15, 2022. It’ll happen both online and at Tokyo’s Makuhari Messe venue. Check out more on how to watch the online portion of the show here.