During a ceremonial visit in May, culminating in a viaduct over London, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida uttered the words everyone had been waiting for at least 730 days. Japan was to reopen to foreign visitors – hooray, hooray.
The first reports were pouring in of the return to normalcy for tourism in Japan, with itineraries for a summer of fun.
But very soon, the less festive details of Japan’s plans began to flow. It wouldn’t be a reopening of business as usual at all, and in the initial phase it would pretty much just be business. Tourists would still be limited in number and size.
The days of the first tourist-visitors to Japan are fast approaching, but a deluge of new details makes the prospect of a visit rather disappointing.
Japan to reopen tourism on June 10
Want to see Japan in a bubble, with a pre-booked trip that requires a full-time nanny, mask memories, and no entry restrictions from many areas? Japan will reopen on June 10, 2022, if that’s what your idea of travel means.
Visitors are also limited to arrivals from the US, Singapore, Australia and Thailand.
And there’s the problem. The world was expecting open access, maybe a Covid-19 vaccination requirement and maybe – some mandatory mask situations. What the world did not expect from the initial comments is in fact a closed country that allows sterilized tours.
More tourist details appear
Travel agents have returned from proving travel and the reports are very mixed.
Masks are required 24/7 during travel, and the extra cost of “caregivers” looking after the pre-arranged groups to make sure they aren’t put off by plans or locations is off-putting. There is also the issue of taking out private insurance, another requirement according to Reuters.
Basically you will be in a travel bubble from June 10 until changes are made and fully supervised at all times. You don’t have to go to cocktail bars late at night or wander the backstreets of Ginza. Escorts are required to stay with you until you leave.
When will Japan really open again?
For anyone who doesn’t want to enjoy 24/7 surveillance, mask-wearing, and prepackaged tours, this is hardly a “real” reopening. So the question immediately shifts to when Japan will reopen travel and tourism, after the June 10 farce.
Unfortunately, there is no real answer yet. The best bet, according to most sources affiliated with Japanese politics, is to suggest “after the election.” Japanese voters are not as excited about the tourism reopening as many outsiders might expect, and an increase in the number of cases with major reopenings could affect votes.
Expect any opportunity to enter Japan on reasonable terms to be at least a few months away. That’s subject to change and we’ve seen Covid-19 travel regulations dismantle more quickly before, but for now that’s the story. Maybe in time for fall?