For the first time in nearly two-and-a-half years, Japan’s border is open to foreigners without heavy COVID restrictions.
Japan today officially kicked off visa-free travel, a move that it hopes will lead to the restoration of Japan’s once-bustling tourism industry, which had been decimated by COVID-19. Starting today, individual international travelers will be able to enter Japan without being part of a tour group, and travelers will no longer have to test upon arrival unless they are suspected of being ill.
Travelers will still have to provide proof of vaccination — three doses of a WHO-approved vaccine — or provide a negative test taken 72 hours prior to departure if they are not fully vaccinated, according to Travel Japan. However, the entry rules, which had been some of the strictest international rules since the start of the pandemic, are now dropped.
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.