Japan to lift Covid restrictions on foreign tourist arrivals
Japan will welcome back international visitors from October 11, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a news conference in New York on Thursday.
"Finally, Japan will reopen the border," Japanese Digital Minister Taro Kono said on Twitter. "Visa waiver is back, no daily limit and free individual visits," Kono added.
Japan allowed citizens from more than 60 countries, like the US, European countries, some African and Asian countries, to enter the country without a visa if they were traveling for a short time before the pandemic.
But Japan suspended the visa program on March 2020 because of COVID.
Kishida was sworn in as Japan's prime minister last year and he vowed to make post-pandemic economic recovery one of his top priorities.
Japan's strict border controls
Japan has been slowly relaxing COVID rules, and raised the cap on inbound travelers to 50,000 from 20,000,as well as eliminated a requirement for pre-departure COVID tests, Japanese TV network Fuji News Network reported earlier this month.
Japan said in June that it would open to tourists who were traveling in groups but maintained they would have to comply with strict Covid rules.
It also raised the cap on daily foreign arrivals to 20,000 from 10,000 travelers in June.
Covid deaths much lower than other countries
Japan has recorded some 42,600 deaths linked to the virus so far — much lower than many other countries.
Japan's population is more or less fully vaccinated, with 90% of residents above 65 having received more than three vaccine shots.
Masks are also near-ubiquitious in public places, even though Japan has lifted rules required people to wear them.
Unlike other major economies, Japan never imposed a strict lockdown either. Tokyo also hosted the Olympic Games last year, where it refused entry to international spectators to limit Covid transmission.