Gand ready for Japan’s grand reopening, take 2. Back in May, Japan announced it would reboot 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 nations,” said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the time.
But that felt akin to a speakeasy bouncer cracking a door open and asking for a secret password. When the first international visitors arrived in mid-June, they were required to get a visa, wear masks, take out medical insurance to cover expenses in the event they contract Covid-19, and be chaperoned by tour guides throughout their trip.
Now, it appears that the Land of the Rising Sun, one of the world’s most Covid-careful destinations, means to properly roll out a welcome mat for foreign visitors.
On Thursday, Kishida announced that Japan will resume visa-free entry for individual travelers on October 11. “We will lift the ceiling of the number of entrants into Japan, lift the ban on individual travel and lift the ban on visa-less travel, ” the Japanese leader told reporters in New York City.
By eliminating the cap of 50,000 daily visitors, Japan will return its tourism operation to pre-pandemic norms 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 Taro Kono, Japan’s minister of digital affairs, tweeted, “Finally, Japan will reopen the border. Visa waiver is back, no daily limit and free individual visits.”
In general, Asian countries were much slower to reopen to international tourism compared to the many European countries that opened the floodgates to travelers last year. Over the spring and summer, though, vaccinated foreign visitors were welcomed back to a growing number of Asian destinations, including India, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia.
One restriction that Japan will keep in place: Visitors still must show proof of vaccination or recent recovery from Covid, which is similar to the current entry requirement for the United States. Canada, meanwhile, is expected to drop its vaccine mandate for travelers by the end of the month.