Japan Reopens It Borders Starting June

Japan might be relaxing its border restrictions as early as June, announced  Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on his London visit.

“We will further relax controls, so that in June it will be possible to enter the country as smoothly as other G7 nations,” said Kishida.

Japan Reopens It Borders Starting June

The details are still up in the air, as there are differences in the entry rules of G7 (USA, UK, Italy, Canada, Germany, Japan, and France) nations. For instance, while the United States, Canada, and Germany only welcome fully vaccinated travellers, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom allow both fully and not fully vaccinated travellers to enter their country.

By and large, Asian countries have been slower in the process of reopening their borders comparatively to Western nations. In recent months, however, some have welcomed back vaccinated foreign visitors, such as India, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Apparently, Kishida has decided that it’s time for them to reopen as well, hoping that this will be a kick to buoy the waning Japanese Yen, which hit a 20-year low against the dollar in April. A weak yen would encourage spending, which coincides perfectly with the border reopening, but it has done more harm than good as prices of imports have been soaring.

Kishida believes that his country's strict entry policies helped Japan weather the pandemic better than many other countries. According to Johns Hopkins University data, Japan has recorded fewer than 30,000 deaths from Covid-19 since the outbreak began, at a rate of 23.5 deaths per 100,000 residents. In comparison, over one million Americans have died from Covid-19, with a death rate of 302.5 per 100,000 residents.

In another conference on May 5th, Kishida announced that Japan will implement rolling changes. Japan just had national holidays on April 29 and May 3 to 5, in which millions of Japanese travel domestically. This is considered the perfect opportunity to put the current mandate to the test, and the government will be examining the impact before further decisions are made.

It has been several months since the Japan tourism industry urged the government to start allowing international travellers  to enter the country. Tourism has been, for the last decade, one of the most important sources of income for the country.

Japan’s tourism industry began to balloon in 2013 when they eased visa requirements. In 2019, the country welcomed almost 32 millions visitors, netting Japan roughly $47 billions dollar and ranking them 7th in the world when it comes to foreign tourism revenue.

However, the rampaging pandemic forces the government to tighten up safety measures, which resulted in the number of visitors plummeting to a trickling 250,000 last year, according to Japan National Tourism Organisation.

Japan is currently under a Level 3 travel health advisory from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicating that the country faces a "high" risk of Covid-19 transmission. It’s worth noting that the United States, as well as 111 other countries throughout the world, are at Level 3.

More than half of Japan's population has received a booster shot, a rate greater than in the United States and comparable to that of European countries.

Despite the fact that thousands of people are infected every day in Tokyo and other Japanese cities, experts believe that easing border controls to some extent would bear no adverse consequences, though the country's medical system would need to be monitored to avoid becoming overburdened.

KHOA PHAM


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