We are thrilled to announce that Japan will be reopening to tourists starting June 10th, ending a two-year pandemic closure. On Thursday May 26th Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said “We will resume accepting tourists on package tours with guides from the 10th of next month. Step by step we will aim to accept (tourists) as we did in normal times.” (KyodoNews)
Initially, all tourists must join tour group, and although no date has been set for the lifting of tourism entry restrictions for independent traveler, we expect all remaining restriction will be lifted before long.
TESTING REQUIREMENTS GREATLY RELAXED
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said this month that the easing of restrictions would mean about 80 per cent of arrivals would be able to enter the country without undergoing testing on arrival, or quarantine. (South China Morning Post)
Countries and regions will be divided into 3 categories — red, yellow and blue — depending on their assessed virus risk. 36 countries and regions on the blue list will not be required to show proof of vaccination nor undergo on-arrival testing or quarantine of any kind as long as they show a negative PCR test within 72 hours of flying. Countries on this list include United Kingdom, Ireland, United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. (Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
DOUBLING OF DAILY ENTRY CAPS
From Wednesday June 1st, Japan will double the cap on daily entries to 20,000 people daily (though this is still far short of the pre-pandemic number of 135,000 daily arrivals). Business leaders have been pushing Japan to ease entry restrictions and allow in foreign tourists. Masakazu Tokura, chairman of Keidanren, the nation’s biggest business lobby, voiced his expectation Monday that Japan will further ease its border controls. “The 20,000 cap is just a process. I expect it will become 50,000 and then 100,000, and eventually there will be free and open border controls similar to that of G7 countries,” Tokura said.
Japan is also expanding the number of airports that accept international flights to seven, adding Naha in its southern Okinawa prefecture and Chitose near Sapporo in northern Hokkaido.
MAJORITY OF JAPANESE PUBLIC NOW IN FAVOUR OR REOPENING
Japan has one of the oldest populations in the world and are generally quite risk adverse even before the pandemic. Thus it was no surprise when a large majority of people supported closing the borders to limit the spread of Covid 19. However a Kyodo News survey last week showed that 65.5% of respondent now favour a relaxation of the border closure. Last month in a similar survey less than 50% supported relaxing strict border controls. 53.7% of respondents now believe Japan should prioritise economic activity over antivirus precautions.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A WEAK YEN
Prime Minister Kishida has come under pressure from business lobbies to further open the borders, as the travel industry is losing out on what could have been a windfall from the weak yen. (Business Bloomberg) Obviously a weaker yen against all major currencies will make holidays in Japan an even more attractive proposition.
UPCOMING SMALL GROUP TOURS
The below is a list of our scheduled small group tour dates for 2022. Due to small group tours reopening before independent travel, we expect remaining places on several of these tours to sell out quickly.
Get in touch with one of our travel consultants to learn more about these tours. Each of the tours offers something unique and indeed the same tour on different dates also offers unique experiences. With a maximum number of 12 people on all of our small group tours, we can guarantee a far superior experience than large coach tours, but it does mean places on our tours are limited. Once you’ve identified the tour that appeals to you most, don’t hesitate to secure a place if it’s still available.