Japan’s PM says entry restrictions to ease by next month

Japan’s PM announced yesterday that in June, visitors can enter the country “as smoothly as other G-7 nations”. Apart from China, Japan is the last Asian country that still hasn’t opened its border to foreign tourists. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has only been letting in foreigners who are either studying abroad, foreign dignitaries, or people coming for business.

The other countries on the world’s list of G-7 nations include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US. The PM, Fumio Kishida, made the statement while nearing the end of his tour to Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Italy.

Japan has been criticised for its strict border controls. At first, it only allowed up to 5,000 entrants daily, including returning Japanese nationals. As restrictions eased, that number went up to 7,000, and then 10,000. Due to the strict rules, the number of foreign visitors plummeted from almost 32 million in 2019 to 250,000 in 2021.

PM Fumio said the border restrictions have been successful at helping Japan control the Covid-19 pandemic. He also said, however, that Japan now wants to raise consumer spending to help deal with an economic slowdown. The country’s tourism industry has urged the government to let in more visitors. At a press conference, Fumio stressed that the easing of restrictions would happen in stages.

“I will continue to listen carefully to the markets, to those on the ground, and press ahead with policies.”

SOURCE: Bloomberg | Reuters

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.