Japan to Ease COVID Border Controls to Boost Tourism

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday that Japan will abolish a series of COVID-19 border restrictions in hopes of reviving its tourism industry.

As of Oct. 11, Japan will allow individual visitors to enter the country, reinstate visa waivers and end the cap on daily arrivals. Kishida announced the long-awaited policy shift at a news conference in New York.

The changes come as Japan records the highest 28-day average of cases in the world, 3,052,150, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center.

Japan began allowing tourists on guided tours to enter the country in June, and tourists on non-guided tours who had booked through a registered travel agency could enter as of early September.

Japan also removed mandatory pre-arrival PCR tests for fully vaccinated travelers in September but kept the 50,000 cap on daily arrivals.

The new guidelines will open doors to an unlimited number of tourists as long as they have been vaccinated three times or submit a negative COVID-19 test ahead of their trip, Kyodo News reported.

The prime minister’s action to stimulate the Japanese economy comes after the yen declined to its lowest levels against the dollar in almost a quarter of a century.

“The currency has depreciated nearly 20% this year, sinking to 24-year lows,” Reuters reported.

In an additional attempt to stimulate the economy through tourism, the Japanese government is also implementing a nationwide travel discount program, providing incentives for foreigners to choose Japan over other tourist destinations.

Some information in this report came from Reuters.

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