Japan Govt Panel Proposes Measures to Cope with Foreign Tourist Increase, Drone Use During Disasters

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, speaks at a Council for Promotion of Regulatory Reform meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday.

Simple lodgings, such as those in old private houses and vacation homes, should be allowed to forgo a front desk and instead use a call center for services, a government reform panel has proposed. The idea was part of measures proposed to enhance Japan’s ability to accept more inbound tourists.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will issue a notice to that effect this fiscal year.

The proposal also discussed the full lifting of restrictions on ride-sharing services, in which people use their cars to offer paid rides. The Council for Promotion of Regulatory Reform said Friday that “work should begin immediately on drafting legislation toward the end of the year,” to submit a relevant bill to the next ordinary Diet session.

Ride-sharing services began in April under the condition that cab companies manage services while limiting the area, times of operation and number of vehicles.

The proposal added that by September, the government should consider ways to ease restrictions so that the number of vehicles operating at a given time can be increased during rain or special events.

As for drones, the criteria for flying them without permission from the transport minister will be clarified so that medical supplies and foodstuffs can be transported even in no-fly airspace during a disaster.

In the medical field, measures are included to allow the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs at shops including convenience stores with no pharmacist, as long as sales are managed online from a pharmacist-staffed store in the same prefecture. This is aimed at making OTC drugs more accessible to people in depopulated areas.

“These reforms will help people in difficult circumstances,” said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, praising the proposal at a meeting. He instructed that “discussions should proceed and include the legal system.”