Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced recently that vaccinated tourists would no longer have to present a negative PCR test before entering Japan, starting September 7.
Japan has enforced the strictest measures since the outbreak of corona more than two years ago, including the requirement to present a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours before arrival in the country.
“We plan to gradually ease border controls to allow smoother entry procedures, much like those of other countries,” said Kishida at a virtual press conference from his official residence, where he is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 earlier this week.
Japan drops the mandated PCR test as the country is struggling with a new wave of corona. Last Tuesday, there were more than 185,400 new cases of Covid infections, compared to only 23,000 new cases at the beginning of July, according to the World Health Organization.
Corona-related deaths have also increased. On Tuesday, 269 deaths were recorded in the country, compared to 10-15 deaths per day reported in July.
Despite this announcement, which will come into effect on September 7, other restrictions are still very much in place. Japan will continue with a cap of 20,000 daily visitors. Moreover, foreign tourists are only allowed to visit the country as part of a group and must apply for a visa. Independent travelers are still not allowed to enter Japan.
So far, only 387,000 tourists have visited Japan between January and May this year, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization, a staggering drop compared to 31.8 million tourists who visited the country in 2019.