Japan on Tuesday announced some major changes to its inbound tourist protocols that will allow for more foreign travelers to enter the country starting next month. However, the entry rules will still make it difficult to visit Japan.
Starting Sept. 7, Japan will allow non-guided packaged tours from all countries with its daily cap going from 20,000 people to 50,000 people. Individual travelers will still be unable to enter Japan if they are not part of a guided tour group, however, and those who want to explore on their own away from their tour group will be unable to.
All travelers will also still need an entry visa that has to be pre-issued prior to travel, which has been seen as a significant hurdle for some. Travelers who are fully vaccinated, a definition that includes three doses of a vaccine, will no longer need to test prior to travel.
Still, both changes, announced on Wednesday by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, were positive steps towards the resumption of normal travel rules and regulations for Japan, a country that has been strict about post-COVID travel.
Japan had started to resume some inbound travel earlier in the summer but only did so with a number of rules in place. Those rules include mask-wearing in crowded outdoor spaces and in most indoor spaces, and mandatory travel insurance, along with booking travel packages through a certified Japanese travel agency that will guide guests around crowded areas and into hotels and attractions with COVID-19 measures in place.
If tourists disobeyed those rules, they could have been booted during their travel.