Japan Announces Restart of Visa-Free Tourist Travel

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The Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, has announced that Japan is fully reopening to international tourists from October 11 and is reinstating visa-free travel for countries in the Japanese visa waiver program

From this date, it will no longer be necessary for those traveling for tourism to be traveling as part of a guided tour: Individual tourists will be permitted to visit Japan for the first time in over 2 and half years.

Tourists have been allowed to visit Japan since June 2022, but only if they had an approved visa and booked their trip though a Japanese travel agency. During this time, the country launched an electronic visa for US and Canadian citizens to facilitate entry for tourism. 

Visa-exempt travel for up to 90 days will now once again be permitted for visitors from 68 different countries. 

Those not on the visa-exempt list, which includes the United States, Canada, and all European Union nations, will still be required to have an approved visa for Japan to visit the country regardless of the amount of time they intend to stay.

The eVisa  for Japan is now expected to be extended to other eligible nationalities in the near future.

Japan Announces Restart of Visa-Free Tourist Travel

Entry Cap for Japan to Be Lifted

During the New York press conference where Kishisa announced the revision of the Japan visa policy to reincorporate visa-free travel, the Prime Minister also revealed that the daily cap on entry for travelers is also being lifted from October 11. 

Over the past 6 months, the daily arrival cap has gradually increased from 5,000 to 50,000, but the Japanese government is now feeling confident enough about the rate of COVID infections in the country to completely lift it.

“I want to support the travel, entertainment and other industries that have been struggling during the coronavirus pandemic”, Kishida reasoned about the new measures.

Easing of Restrictions Welcomed by Japanese Tourist Industry

The news has been warmly welcomed by the tourist industry in Japan, as tourism revenue in the country has been greatly affected by the government’s long-standing strict coronavirus entry restrictions.  31.88 million foreign travelers visited Japan in 2019, but the number plummeted to about 250,000 in 2021 due to the closed borders.

“We are extremely happy to see the long-awaited easing of restrictions,” Shinichi Inoue, president of All Nippon Airways, said of the move. “We will increase flights from the end of October to welcome customers from abroad.”

“The economic impact of inbound travelers before the COVID-19 pandemic is said to be roughly ¥5 trillion, and we are pinning great hopes that there will be economic effects of similar size,” Inoue added.  He also shared his opinion that the yen’s sharp decline against the dollar “will definitely serve as an incentive” for tourists to visit Japan.

Additionally, Japan has now relaxed its COVID entry rules for pre-departure testing, as those who have received 3 shots of a vaccine approved by Japan are now exempt from needing a PCR test.

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