As Japan learns to live with the virus, the government has indicated plans to ease all travel restrictions in the “not-so-distant future,” which according to the local media could be as early as next month.
The relaxation in entry restrictions would entail putting an end to the entry ban on independent tourists, removing the daily arrival cap and restoring the pre-pandemic visa waiver for short-term visitors from 68 countries, including the U.S.
Announcing the government’s intention to relax restrictions, Seiji Kihara, the deputy chief cabinet secretary, had said this week that Japan should not fall behind other destinations in attracting foreign tourists.
Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has also talked about strengthening Japan’s earning power by taking advantage of the yen’s weakness, which is currently at a 24-year low against the dollar.
A weak yen would make the country an attractive destination for foreign travelers.
Japan recently raised the daily arrival cap of inbound tourists to 50,000 from 20,000. However, even this increment is only around 45 percent of the pre-pandemic daily average arrival of 140,000 travelers.
Earlier this month, the Japanese government removed mandatory pre-arrival Covid tests for visitors, provided they are able to submit proof of being vaccinated thrice. It has also scrapped the requirement for guides on group tours.
While Japan has been easing restrictions in a phased manner even since it reopened to foreign tourists in June, travelers are still required to apply for a short-term visa and need to enter the country as part of approved package tours through a recognized travel agency.