Kishida: Restrictions on foreign tourists will be eased “step by step”

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways planes are seen at Haneda Airport in December 2021.

Japan “will continue to aim to accept foreign tourists just as before, in a step-by-step process while monitoring the infection situation,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in an announcement that the country will ease restrictions on the entry of foreign tourists next month.

“The free and active exchange of people is the foundation of our economy and society,” Kishida said in the Thursday announcement.

From June 10, tourists from 98 countries and regions that are deemed to be low-risk COVID-19 areas will be able to visit Japan on package tours, and the restrictions will be further eased gradually.

The Tourism Agency has been conducting a pilot project since Tuesday and will formulate guidelines for infection control and other measures.

Tourists will be required by travel agencies to comply with guidelines such as wearing masks and the use of public transportation will be permitted.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry allocates the number of reservations for international flights to Japan Airlines Co., All Nippon Airways Co. and foreign airlines that fly to Japan.

On Monday, the ministry issued a notice to the companies that the daily cap on international arrivals would be raised to 20,000, which will be split equally between domestic and international carriers.

The allocation for domestic airlines will also be split equally between All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, with each company accepting reservations for an average of 5,000 passengers or fewer per day.

About 90 foreign airlines have been asked to limit the number of passengers to 190 per flight on weekdays and 160 on weekends.

The ministry asked airlines to file reports on the status of reservations twice a week for about three weeks to ensure that the companies were observing the cap. “No airline has exceeded the limit so far,” an official at the ministry said.

“Significant progress has been made toward the resumption of international travel, I look forward to the restrictions being further eased,” Hiroyuki Takahashi, chair of the Japan Association of Travel Agents, said Thursday.

“We have received many requests to come to Japan, so this is good news,” All Nippon Airways President Shinichi Inoue said on the same day.

The easing of restrictions is expected to bring a welcome boost to the tourism and transportation industries, which have been hit hard amid the pandemic. The recent depreciation of the yen has also lifted industry expectations.

“It will take a certain amount of time to sign up tour participants, so the number of arrivals will start to increase shortly after the restrictions are eased,” a Tourism Agency official said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at a conference in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday.