For the first time in nearly two-and-a-half years, Japan is opening its border to foreigners without heavy COVID restrictions.
Starting Oct. 11, individual international travelers will be able to enter Japan without being part of a tour group. Japan is ending its international daily arrivals cap and will reinstate visa waivers. The daily visitor cap is currently at 50,000 and had been as low as 20,000 just a few weeks ago.
According to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who spoke in New York on Thursday while attending the UN General Assembly meeting, Japan’s border control measures “will be on par” with the U.S.’s border measures starting on Oct. 11.
Kishida said that Japan plans to introduce some discounts for domestic travel at the same time. He did not comment on inbound testing rules.
The changes are 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. The country had been one of the darlings of international travel prior to the pandemic, with its high point coming in June 2019, a month when the country had close to 1 million international visitors.
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.