The list of 98 countries and regions where the COVID-19 situation is considered relatively stable includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Russia, neighboring China, Taiwan and South Korea, as well as Brazil, Mozambique and East Timor, according to the announcement Thursday by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Japan will also increase the number of airports accepting international flights to seven, adding Naha Airport in Okinawa in the south and Shin-Chitos in Hokkaido in the north.
All tourists must submit a negative covid-19 test result before traveling to Japan and some will be tested again upon arrival.
People who have already been vaccinated with the booster dose will be able to avoid additional testing in addition to the three-day quarantine.
Tourists will be escorted and will have to respect the use of masks and other measures imposed to control the epidemic in Japan.
The announcement comes after the government announced last week that it will test small group tour packages from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore this month.
The pilot test, which includes only 50 people on special visas rather than tourist visas, is set to end on Tuesday.
For most of the pandemic, Japan has banned tourists from entering and only allowed Japanese nationals and foreign residents to return, albeit with some restrictions.
“The free and active exchange of people is the basis of the economy and society as well as development in Asia,” Kishida said.
The Japanese prime minister said the goal is to ease border control measures, but gradually, as residents support existing restrictions.
Makoto Shimoarisu, head of the office in charge of epidemic control measures, said Japan’s daily limit for travelers on international flights will double from Wednesday to 20,000 people.
Before the pandemic, Japan’s economy was increasingly dependent on tourism, with the country hitting a new record in 2019, welcoming 31.9 million foreign visitors.
Japan had set a target of 40 million tourists by 2020, the year the Tokyo Olympics were originally scheduled. The pandemic has destroyed that goal and the Games have been postponed until 2021, after continuing with many restrictions.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, Japan has recorded more than 149,000 deaths and more than 29 million cases of COVID-19.
VQ // EJ
Lusa / end
“Writer. Analyst. Avid travel maven. Devoted twitter guru. Unapologetic pop culture expert. General zombie enthusiast.”