During a ceremonial May visit capped off with a flyover of London, Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, uttered the words everyone had been waiting at least 730 days to hear. Japan would begin reopening to foreign visitors — hoorah, hooray.
Initial reports gushed over Japanese tourism getting back to business as usual, with itineraries for a summer of fun.
But very quickly, the less celebratory details of Japan’s plans began to flow.
It wouldn’t be a reopening of business as usual at all, and in initial phases, it would actually pretty much be business visitors only. Tourists would still be limited in number and scope.
The days of the first significant tourist visitors to Japan are fast approaching but an onslaught of new details make the prospect of visiting rather disappointing.
Japan “Reopens” Tourism On June 10th
Want to see Japan in a bubble, with a pre-booked trip that requires a full time minder, mask reminders and prohibited entry from many areas? Japan is opening on June 10th, 2022, if that’s what your idea of travel means.
Quarantine and test free visitors are also limited to arrivals from a small selection of countries, including the USA, Singapore, Australia and Thailand.
And there’s the issue. The world expected open entry, maybe with a Covid-19 vaccination requirement, and maybe — some mandatory mask situations.
What the world did not expect from initial remarks, is basically a closed country allowing sterilized tours.
More Tourism Details Emerging
Travel agents have returned from proving trips to test planned restrictions, and the reports are very mixed.
Masks are required 24/7 on trips, and the extra costs of “minders” looking after the prearranged groups, to ensure they don’t deter from plans or pre-set locations are off putting.
There’s also the issue of taking out private insurance, another requirement according to Reuters.
Basically from June 10th until changes are made, you’re in a travel bubble, and fully supervised at all times when visiting.
There’s no popping into late night cocktail bars, or wandering the backstreets of Ginza. Chaperones are required to stay with you until the moment you depart.
When Will Japan Really Reopen?
To anyone not eager to enjoy 24/7 supervision, mask wearing and pre-packaged tours, this is hardly a “real” reopening. So, the question immediately shifts to when will Japan reopen travel and tourism, beyond the June 10th, 2022 farce.
Unfortunately, there’s no real answer, yet.
The best guess, according to most sources plugged into Japanese politics, suggests “after the election.” Japanese voters aren’t as excited about reopening tourism as many outsiders might expect, and a rise in cases due to a major travel reopening could impact votes.
Expect any opportunity to enter Japan under reasonable conditions to be at least a few months away.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, that’s subject to change, and we’ve seen faster dismantling of Covid-19 travel rules before. But for now, that’s the story.
Maybe Japan will “really” open in time for autumn?