Japan reopens to tourism (this time for real)

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Get ready for Japan’s grand reopening, take 2. In May, Japan announced it would restart its international tourism the following month. “We will further relax controls so that in June it will be possible to enter the country as smoothly as other G7 countries,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at the time.

But that felt akin to a speakeasy bouncer opening a door and asking for a secret password. When the first international visitors arrived in mid-June, they had to get visas, wear masks, get medical insurance to cover costs in case they contract Covid-19, and be accompanied by guides on their journey.

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Now it turns out that the Land of the Rising Sun, one of the world’s most Covid-cautious destinations, means well rolling out a welcome mat for foreign visitors.

On Thursday, Kishida announced that Japan will resume visa-free entry for individual travelers on October 11. ‘, the Japanese leader told reporters in New York City.

By eliminating the limit of 50,000 daily visitors, Japan will return its tourism activities to pre-pandemic standards for the first time in more than two years. Before the pandemic, Japan allowed visa-free entry for tourists from 68 countries, including the United States.

As Japan’s Digital Affairs Minister Taro Kono tweeted, “At last, Japan will reopen the border. Visa waiver is back, no daily limit and free individual visits.”

In general, Asian countries have been much slower to reopen to international tourism compared to the many European countries that opened the floodgates to travelers last year. During the spring and summer, vaccinated foreign visitors were welcomed to a growing number of Asian destinations, including India, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia.

One restriction Japan will enforce: Visitors will still be required to show proof of vaccination or recent recovery from Covid, which is similar to the current entry requirement for the United States. Meanwhile, Canada is expected to drop its vaccine mandate for travelers by the end of the month.

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