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Japan partially reopens to international tourists after 2 yrs

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Australian tourists visit Shirakawa-go village in Gifu Prefecture on May 26 during a government pilot program conducted before the official resumption of inbound tourism.

Japan cleared the way for the arrival of the first international tourists in 26 months on Friday, excluding the visitors who participated in a pilot program conducted before the easing of COVID-related entry restrictions.

Only tourists traveling from low-risk countries and regions who have signed up for guided package tours are allowed to enter Japan.

Visa applications are being accepted for tourists from 98 countries and regions, including the United States, China, South Korea and Taiwan. Visitors from those countries do not have to take coronavirus tests or self-isolate upon arrival, regardless of their vaccination status.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Australian tourists visit Shirakawa-go village in Gifu Prefecture on May 26 during a government pilot program conducted before the official resumption of inbound tourism.

“We will work on the recovery of tourism while maintaining a balance between virus prevention, and social and economic activities,” Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito said Friday at a press conference.

Information such as passport numbers and accommodation details have to be registered on a government system by travel agencies or other entities in Japan before the tourists can apply for visas. As a result, not many tourists are expected to start arriving until later in the month.

The number of international arrivals is currently capped at 20,000 per day, and tourists will be included in the count.

The government hopes the arrival of international visitors will bring a welcome boost to regional economies, which have been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.