According to local broadcaster FNN, Japan plans to lift most of the Covid-related restrictions on international tourists, including eliminating visa requirements and allowing individual tourism ahead of the fall travel season.
These restrictions would be relaxed for tourists who have received three vaccine shots or can produce a negative Covid test, according to FNN, which did not specify where the information came from.
The government also intends to lift the current cap of 50,000 foreign visitors per day; Prime Minister Fumio Kishida could make the final decision as early as this week, the source said.
Earlier Nikkei Asia said the visa requirement, which discourages many leisure travelers, could remain in place. Government officials disagree on whether to abolish those restrictions all at once or gradually.
However, the government is committed to dismantling tourism regulations at an “appropriate time” because Japan “must not fall behind the rest of the world.”
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had promised earlier this year that Japan would be as easy to visit as the other Group of Seven countries, but the country’s reopening has been piecemeal, with daily entry limits and tour groups initially required to be chaperoned at all times.
According to Nikkei Asia, the Kishida administration believes that travel restrictions should be relaxed in the fall and that it will be difficult to make a change later if Covid-19 infections reappear in the winter.
Japan on Sept. 7 more than doubled the number of daily entries allowed while changing restrictions that required visitors to take escorted package tours to allow unescorted tours, although visitors must still book and adhere to itineraries set by travel agencies and tour operators.
Last year, Japan received only 246,000 international visitors, far from the 2019 record of 31.9 million, and airlines, hotels and businesses are scrambling to recoup their losses.