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thomas

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It must be a tricky balancing act between "opening up" and "keeping Japan safe": before they even started to return, PM Kishida reminded foreign tourists to follow Japanese mask rules.

Japan will ask foreign tourists to wear face masks and follow other precautions against COVID-19 when they visit the country, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday. Kishida's statement came a day after he said Japan will open its borders to foreign tourists for the first time in about two years, starting from June 10 for those on package tours with guides and fixed itineraries, amid receding fears over the coronavirus. "We must have them follow Japanese rules of wearing face masks," Kishida said in a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

 

Lothor

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I'm not sure what the Japanese mask rules are, and I've been here throughout the pandemic.
These days, my mask is a chin warmer when I'm outside and I put it over my nose and mouth when I go inside a public space. Am I breaking the rules? Are there any rules?
 

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200.gif
 

bentenmusume

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I'm not sure what the Japanese mask rules are, and I've been here throughout the pandemic.
These days, my mask is a chin warmer when I'm outside and I put it over my nose and mouth when I go inside a public space. Am I breaking the rules? Are there any rules?
I think it's only fair to take Kishida's statements as processed through someone's translation with a bit of an open mind. Obviously, there are no universal "Japanese mask rules" that apply to everyone, everywhere, at all times -- and I'm sure he knows that and is not trying to imply there are.

There are, however, general recommendations cited by the national and local governments, and individual establishments/facilities/events can obviously have their own (more specific) rules. Considering that some tourists may be coming from places where mask-wearing is just not a thing at all (or places like the US, where for god knows why a certain segment of the population is actively hostile to the idea), I don't think it's a completely unfounded concern.
 

Lothor

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I think it's only fair to take Kishida's statements as processed through someone's translation with a bit of an open mind. Obviously, there are no universal "Japanese mask rules" that apply to everyone, everywhere, at all times -- and I'm sure he knows that and is not trying to imply there are.

There are, however, general recommendations cited by the national and local governments, and individual establishments/facilities/events can obviously have their own (more specific) rules. Considering that some tourists may be coming from places where mask-wearing is just not a thing at all (or places like the US, where for god knows why a certain segment of the population is actively hostile to the idea), I don't think it's a completely unfounded concern.
Good point. I didn't think about the translation factor.
 
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thomas

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JNTO preparing to educate the foreign tourist hordes.

jnto-tourism-01.jpg


jnto-tourism-02.jpg



Time to close that door yet again?


So, considering all tourists have to undergo pre-travel testing, we have to conclude that this tourist got infected IN Japan. Hm.
 
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thomas

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Japan *considers* raising the daily cap of visitors to 30,000 in July.


As of 10 June, Japan will divide foreign visitors into three groups depending on their current Covid-19 situation: blue, yellow or red. Travellers from areas with the lowest infection rate will be designated as blue and will be exempt from arrival testing and quarantine regardless of vaccination status. Visitors from yellow areas will be exempt from arrival testing and quarantine if they have a vaccination certificate. However, on-arrival testing and quarantine still apply to those who cannot provide a valid vaccination certificate. Red countries and regions designated will still be required to do an arrival PCR test and self-isolate.

 

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Anybody know anyone who is planning on coming to Japan as a tourist sometime soon? It still seems like a lot of hoops to jump through to get permission to come, even as a tourist. I was looking on the government's web site, and to tell the truth its so confusing I gave up midway through.

Any posters out there currently in the middle of this process?
 

thomas

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Extended family members, fiancés, and common-law partners seem to be next. And chaperoned tourist groups. Today, on the news, they showed Japanese hotels who’d received tourist bookings for October and November 2022. So barring a new surge in infections individual tourists will likely be allowed back after the general elections.

 

Majestic

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Do these tourists need to get an approved tour itinerary from an approved local tourist agency or something? I was trying to figure out the exact procedure, but when I looked at the MOFA website dedicated to this, I nearly lost my mind trying to navigate through it.

It's one of those sites that the reader very quickly finds himself lost in a labyrinth of links and sub-links, each becoming more and more confusing. Like:
1. All applicants must file the correct paperwork. The correct paperwork is at the link below. (click)
2. Let us explain the history of all this paperwork, but before we do that, you must first determine which category your country is from. For a list of categories, please click this link (click).
3. Let us explain the history of the three categories, which will change on June 10th. If you are planning on travelling after June 10th, why are you even here? Please click on this link to find out what to do after June 10th. (click)
4. Today is not June 10th. Therefore please click on this link which will deposit you on a 404 Error screen.

 

mdchachi

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Do these tourists need to get an approved tour itinerary from an approved local tourist agency or something?
I think so. "Beginning June 10, Japan will allow the entry of people on tours with fixed schedules and guides, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said."
 

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Although we are still far from the pre-Corona tourist hordes, Asakusa retailers prepare for the assault.

The Asakusa Nakamise shopping area close to spectacular Sensoji temple in Tokyo is regarded as a must-see tourist destination, and far more visitors were seen strolling through the narrow thoroughfare on June 10. Most, however, were Japanese women in kimono or students on school trips. But the Nakamise association of retail outlets is already preparing for a full-scale return of hordes of foreign tourists. All 88 member stores boast posters in English calling on visitors to abide by infection-prevention measures, such as wearing face masks and disinfecting their hands. "I hope this marks the 'start of the end' of the novel coronavirus health scare," said Hiroyuki Kaneko, who heads the association. Still, various member outlets have their own unique concerns.



And the department stores get ready, too:

Isetan Mitsukoshi hopes the move will help sales recover after Japan eased its anti-coronavirus border controls and started accepting foreign tourists. The department store operator has been sending out information mainly to Chinese customers since this spring. It primarily used its Chinese social media platform to introduce tourist spots in Japan, hoping to keep customers interested in the country. The channel has now had a major overhaul and introduces products that are trendy in Japan and available at the group's Isetan store in Tokyo.



The FT takes a different stance on Japan's reopening:

Japan's edict on escorted tourists throws reopening into confusion - Only travellers who use a guide can visit the country, which is desperate to revive the $36bn market.


japan-travel-etiquette.gif
 

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According to the Japan Tourism Agency, 1,300 people have applied to travel to Japan on guided tours since the country restarted visa procedures to accept tourists. The very first group comprising a small number of people arrived in Japan on Wednesday, said Koichi Wada, head of the JTA, without revealing their nationalities. Wada said he expects entries to Japan to "rise slowly," with most of the arrivals coming mainly from Southeast Asian countries, as well as South Korea and the United States.

The government has not indicated when it will begin allowing individual travelers again. It has said "appropriate decisions will be made" on further relaxations based on factors including the infection situations at home and abroad.

 

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According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), 252 foreign tourists visited Japan in June 2022, down 95.8% from the same month in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, while a total of 120,400 foreign visitors entered Japan in the same month. Some 14,580 had applied to enter the country in July or later.

In June, the largest number of arrivals came from Vietnam at 22,900, followed by China at 14,700, South Korea at 11,200 and the United States at 9,700, the data showed. Most arrivals are likely to have come as technical interns, businesspeople, or international students. As the government of China has instructed its citizens to refrain from unnecessary travel, it has been virtually impossible for Chinese tourists to come to Japan, the JNTO said. The Japanese government has divided countries and regions into three groups, with travelers in the lowest-risk "blue" group permitted to enter Japan on guided tours and are exempt from quarantine and testing upon arrival if they show proof of a negative pre-departure test result. The number of Japanese citizens going overseas in June was about 5.6 times higher than a year earlier at 171,500 but was down 88.7 percent from June 2019.


 

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252 tourists. This is ridiculous. But what to make of it?? If the Japanese public, and Japanese businesses are OK with this, there is little domestic political will to change this. But the Japanese authorities can't argue that the shutout is working to keep covid out of Japan, because the covid numbers continue to spike.

Those 252 tourists sure aren't causing the spike, but public perception being what it is, there will be some commentators who claim that the covid surge happened just as Japan opened up to tourists. I'm really curious how the hotels, hospitality, and tourist attractions/destinations are surviving. I was hopeful that travel restrictions would disappear by Fall, but now I'm not so hopeful.
 

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Japan's government is considering ending the pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirement for vaccinated inbound travellers. The current border controls require travellers to show proof of a negative test result within 72 hours of departure. As some countries curtail their testing capabilities, obtaining the necessary documents has become more difficult.

 

nice gaijin

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Japan's government is considering ending the pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirement for vaccinated inbound travellers. The current border controls require travellers to show proof of a negative test result within 72 hours of departure. As some countries curtail their testing capabilities, obtaining the necessary documents has become more difficult.

I'm sure there would be problems with this due to false positives (due to prior infection) or false negatives... but why not just administer a rapid test to get on the plane, or upon arrival in Japan, or both? The former would give them a chance to screen people from infecting other passengers, and the latter could catch edge-cases that were still incubating and let them funnel positive cases into a temporary quarantine before letting them loose on the country. BA.5, the dominant variant as of now, has a much shorter incubation period of about 72 hours before typically developing symptoms or testing positive. The policy needs to be responsive to the situation.
 

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And now news of the elimination of the need for a tour guide (but still required to be part of an approved tour!).

Some of the comments under the NHK tweet are supportive of complete relaxation of all restrictions, while others are supportive of complete isolation. Well, I guess it is to be expected of Twitter.



A line in the NHK tweet caught my eye

"添乗員付きのツアーは行動の自由度が低いとして、個人旅行を好む欧米の観光客などが日本への旅行を敬遠する要因になっている"

For European and American tourists, who prefer individual travel, the low level of freedom of guided tour groups is one reason they are avoiding trips to Japan.


It almost sounds like a line that could have been written in the 1980s. It makes it sound as if Japanese all prefer guided tours, while westerners are unusual in their preference for individual travel. Is the current generation of Japanese travelers any different to Europeans and Americans? Doesn't anyone under 60 prefer individual travel?
 

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Anybody know anyone who is planning on coming to Japan as a tourist sometime soon? It still seems like a lot of hoops to jump through to get permission to come, even as a tourist. I was looking on the government's web site, and to tell the truth its so confusing I gave up midway through.

Any posters out there currently in the middle of this process?
I've been cycling Japan since April and I haven't seen any tourist. I just left Yokohama on Saturday and only heard Japanese. The shinkansen trains, no foreign tourist. Been to Mei Ken, Nara, Kyoto, Tottori, Shimane , Yamaguchi, Ibaraki, Chiba and didn't see any tourist.
 

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Pre-arrival coronavirus tests for vaccinated travellers will no longer be required from 7 September.

Japan will also raise the daily arrival caps from the current 20,000 once airports have the necessary staff and infrastructure to accommodate the spike in arrivals. Kishida did not offer a specific new daily arrival cap. "From Sept. 7, we will allow travelers to submit proof of vaccination (vaccine passports) instead of negative test results taken within 72 hours of departure," Kishida said during an online news conference. "It has been inconvenient for people, especially those traveling abroad from Japan. "We will speed up measures both to prevent the spread of infections and promote socioeconomic activity," he said.

 

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