Japan’s Visa-Free Travel to Start in October

Japan is expected to make a formal announcement about new inbound travel rules in the coming days that will see the country move closer to a pre-COVID normal.

According to Nikkei, an official announcement from Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected in the coming days, with the new rules taking effect in October.

The changes, which were reported by other news outlets including Reuters this week, include axing the visa requirement for short-term travelers from most countries including the U.S., and dropping the daily 50,000 people entry cap. The cap had previously been at 20,000 until Japan moved it up in September.

There will still be some requirements for travelers, according to Nikkei, which could include vaccination or testing requirements.

When the announcement is made, the change is expected to boost Japan’s struggling tourism industry, which has been held back by strict entry rules, including a near-full ban on new entries by foreigners that was imposed in 2021.

Tourists coming into Japan will be able to take advantage of a weakened yen, which has dropped to its lowest point, compared with the U.S. dollar, in almost 25 years.

The changes would be a significant boon for Japan, which had been struggling to bring back tourists in light of those rules, post-COVID.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), the number of international travelers to Japan in June 2022 was 120,400, up more than 1,000% compared to 2021, but down 95% over 2019.

Japan’s high point for tourism since 2018 came in June 2019, a month when the country had 991,189 international visitors.

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