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Japan eases border restrictions, starts visa procedures for guided tours

71 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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After facing criticism that its strict border controls were xenophobic, Japan began easing restrictions earlier this year.

and this facade of a “reopening” doesn’t change that perception in the least.

13 ( +33 / -20 )

"Welcome to Japan, please stay in your group, do not wander off on your own, do not sit in any other seat than the one you've been allocated, do not remove your mask under any circumstances, do not even think about going into a shop or restaurant unaccompanied, do not talk to anyone other than those in your allocated bubble, be ready for your tests and be prepared to have the whole thing cancelled in anyone so much as catches a sniffle, oh, and have a good time!"

20 ( +41 / -21 )

The mask makers are all rich.

16 ( +25 / -9 )

Half hearted attempts to cover two issues usually result in failure on both . I don't see hordes of tourists coming under these conditions, and the shops, hotels, restaurants aren't going to see anything like the "inbound" jackpot of 2019 and earlier.

6 ( +19 / -13 )

In short,gaijin tourists are prone to bring in corona virus to Japan but japanese nationals cannot be corona virus carriers.

9 ( +27 / -18 )

We've visited Japan 4 time with our last trip cancelled in 2020, we will not be visiting again until we can travel and go anywhere we want. Staying on a restricted group tour would be so boring, traveling with the same people going to the top tourist destinations we have probably all ready visited. We like to visit out of the way places and experience some real Japanese culture like Mt Koyasan and Kamkura and small towns and gardens.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

So many questions about these tours I would like to know if I was going on one.

Can I go into a convenience store in the evening nerviest my hotel? Am I even allowed out of my hotel in the evening?

If I have a relative in Japan who came to meet me somewhere where I was on my supervised visit, would I be able to speak to him or her or am I kept segregated from all Japanese people at all times and places?

Shopping. _ Am I only allowed to do shopping in chosen supervised shopping places that are part of my itinerary? What sort of mark up will the prices they charge in these tourist places there be?

And there are many more. Is anyone really going to sign up to this farce?

And in reality are they going to really keep be able to them so totally segregated from the rest of Japan as the plan is pretending to do? And what will the penalty be for anyone who digresses - deportation? Fines? Jail?

9 ( +13 / -4 )

"...officials say it will take some time before foreign visitors can come to Japan for free, individual tourism."

That mentality will always run deep in Japan -- groups mean safety, freedom and individualism mean danger.

2 ( +14 / -12 )

For sure almost no western person will travel with such ridiculous restrictions.

I hope this north Korea style guided travel will fail.

4 ( +17 / -13 )

Funny how the Japanese government keep seeing foreign tourist as the covid threat, and not their own thousand of Japanese tourists travelling everyday basically everywhere in the world.

For a country I loved with it's beauty and contradictions, keep reading these news makes me feel very sad.

Hope all this government xenophobia vs what is not "japanese" will stop soon

5 ( +17 / -12 )

And do the tour guides think it is a wonderful idea? Will they stand guard (with the tourists) outside a toilet block while one of the group answers the call of nature? Does Kishida actually think that this is a viable option to open up Japan's tourist industry? Maybe a forward thinking tourist will construct their own flag and start a breakaway group. Now, that would be fun to see the over- reaction of the fun police!

3 ( +9 / -6 )

At this point, they might as well take the foreign tourists' money at the border and send them back right away, as this is obviously a ploy to make some quick buck while keeping the xenophobes content.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

Is a vaccination passport required?

I wonder if there is a guided tour of Mount Fuji?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Who wants to take a North Korea style tour, when you can visit beautiful Europe at your own pace without wearing a face nappy right now? If I wasn't living here, Japan would be the last country on my 'to visit' list.

1 ( +16 / -15 )

This will discourage tourism…people will write off Japan for 2022…and many will never get around to putting it back on the agenda,

0 ( +14 / -14 )

Embarassed to be Japanese by this.

What a stupid idea.

3 ( +19 / -16 )

Embarassed to be Japanese by this.

Dear Leader Kishida’s clumsy Pyongyang inspired effort to corral foreigners to ensure they don’t go off the reservation, needs to be reciprocated by foreign countries to bring home to Japan's leaders that restrictions on the free movement of foreign travellers has not gone unnoticed and will result in the unedifying spectacle of Japanese being forced to abide by the very rules they apply to others.

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

It’s a constucted plan to pretend to open and say look we’re open! The borders will not open this year and next year? My guess they basiclly wanna stay closed like china

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Such an insult. Incredible they would treat tourists like children like this.

Ultimately it’s Japan’s loss. Of all the billions of tourist dollars that will spent in the summer of 2022, Japan will receive none of it.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

As someone who has friends and family in Japan, I have been waiting for months to hear anything about free travel.

After months of waiting, I have booked a trip to Korea this autumn. The idea of doing a guided tour is ridiculous to me personally and I would rather visit another Asian country then be subjected to that.

Hopefully we get to visit Japan in 2023.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Who wants to visit a country with so many restrictions? Not me.

I wouldn't be able to handle having to wear a mask everywhere I go and then looked at sideways if I removed it.

As far as I'm concerned, COVID is an afterthought.

I'll stay home where I can enjoy my freedom and entitlement.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

@oyatoi

You took those words right out of my mouth.

I agree. They should be subject to what they dish out when they decide to visit a foreign country.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Why can’t other countries make similar rules for Japanese travelers ,

foreign policies are usually reciprocal

1 ( +12 / -11 )

@ Jeff Lee

Let me ask you a question.

Do you agree with that concept and how is it living in a country where you individualism is repressed?

I don't mean to be sarcastic.

I'm just curious.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

welcome to Japan lolllllllllllllllllllllllll

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

Japan is waiting for China to allow its citizens to travel. For all the buhaha and historical rivalry China and Japan are 99% similar in character and mentality. Hordes of Chinese will feel right at home in Japan right down to the damn masks.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Well one thing's for sure: the Bank of Japan is sure doing its part!

Yen is falling off the exchange rate cliff, almost hitting 135 to 1USD, making Japan "cheap" to outsiders who might stand the masks, the rules, the minders and the overbearing patronizing. Meanwhile, those on the inside see their savings worth less and less with each necessary purchase of food, fuel, and almost everything else coming in from outside the land of the setting...oh, right, "rising", sun.

Don't worry! Haven't you heard? Japan's own Mr. Blackfield, or Kuroda, over at JCB crows in public at how the Japanese masses have become "tolerant" of incessant price hikes! No wait, that's all just a "misunderstanding". And the yen printers go BRRRRR, 24-7. What's not to like??

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Japan taking a page from the CCP tour book.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

What a joke.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I wanted to visit Japan last year. Now was hoping to visit this year.

This is definitely a step in the right direction, but they have to speed things up like the business groups are suggesting.

There is no threat anymore (if has ever been one), but Japan is acting like a person holding an umbrella after the rain has stopped.

Mask wearing is practically borderline stupid and has been proved time and time again that it achieves no effect in viral spread. Some research gives credit to N95 masks, but you need to replace them every 2 hours and neither anyone is wearing N95s nor replacing them to be safe from the virus that kills marginally more than a common flu.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

i love JAPAN

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Of course, this just applies to you Gai'ji's

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

The misses: How did we end up in North Korea?!

Mr.: But honey, we're in japan.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

i love JAPAN

Why?

0 ( +8 / -8 )

eliminate testing at airports

And before departure for those triple jabbed, just like everyone else is doing.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

This BS is why I'll just stay HOME, and keep my ¥.

Good luck.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

What reopening? Absolute joke

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Arrivals are not expected until late june at the earliest

Quarantine offices stood by for any possible arrivals

These statements are a perfect example of how incompetent the system is !

How could they possibly not know if any arrivals are coming ? ? ?

Obviously they are so disorganized they don't know whether themselves are coming or going , let alone any "possible arrivals"

Too sad to be funny !

Oh well !

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Jeez...does this mean I have to do the mandatory Oba-chan tour to Mount Fuji before being let loose on the damsels of Roppongi

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

So when is Japan Post going to start accepting airmail packages to the U.S. It has been way too long! I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for EMS or wait several months for surface mail.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Anyhoo...looks like everyone is going to Thailand for a mushroom omelet and thai-sticks for dessert.

Follow the yellow brick road.

Not in Kansas anymore .

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Oh no… it’s going to be crowded again. Yuck! Hopefully, they will respect the rule… in wearing masks.

But still must be careful with Monkey pox, since U.S. raised level 2. Now have to wear masks.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

-it will take some time before foreign visitors can come to Japan for free, individual tourism.

Why? Europe and the US have gone back to normal. SK are happily allowing free range tourism (with masks). I'm happy to wear a mask, even if the locals are not asked to. Insurance is always a good idea on holiday and probably should be mandatory globally.

The Yen could collapse. No matter how skilled or qualified the minder (and I'm not questioning their abilities or value to those who enjoy such tours), I'm still not interested in Chinese-style tourism.

Europe and the US don't demand that Japanese tourists only come on guided package tours. Perhaps we should.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Its History, as a 16 year resident and PR hopefully I can see one of these when Im traveling in Kyoto. Its Going to be nice taking pictures of these North Korean style tours. If people actually go on them and lucky enough to see one.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Welcome to January 2021 Japan, bravo!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I'm really concerned for the future of this country.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Welcome to North Korea... Sorry, I mean Japan!

I can't imagine any Westerners wanting to visit Japan right now.

If you want to experience an East Asian country right now. Visit South Korea.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Japan won't be back to normal on tourism until 2024 at the earliest, mark my words.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Maybe this is the new normal for Japan.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Fair enough, they don’t want any more tourists (mainly Chinese) and Covid is the excuse

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

The US just lifted Covid restrictions on American bound traveling,cannot say if you have to vaccinated,they general grant Japanese visa application, because they will not overstay

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Alright, let the road to recovery begin..

Everyone come to know the best and coolest country in the world..

LET'S GO JAPAN!!..

Let the haters bark, lol !!..

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I am comfortable that business groups are putting pressure on Japan to open normally. I feel like there needs to be a bigger pressure campaign joining these business groups to really make our voices heard.

As one Japanese expert put it - this travel ban over time turned into something perversely xenophobic.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Why Japan is so picky ? Open the board like other countries , who wont to go to Japan with tour guide ? Japan is only for people has some thing in there , no tourism .

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Japan likes to do things slowly and cautiously. Frustrating as they are, these restrictions are only temporary and a necessary step for the Japanese to resuming full inbound tourism. Xenophobic? Yes a bit - but get used to it peeps. Japan doesn't care what you think.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

@Dochira,

your lecturing and japan-explaining are totally unnecessary. If Japan doesn't care what we think, the sliding yen is showing exactly what the world thinks and Japan is thinking about their yen right now.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The "guide" is basically a mask monitor, isn't he/she? They probably don't need any guiding knowledge or skills. "This is a famous temple in Japan....This is our famous noodle." level.

I wonder what the pay is. It's morning to night, so long hours.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The thing about this that it is completely necessary and show the world how inadequate Japans heath systems is.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Japan is still reporting more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases daily, though the number in Tokyo is below 2,000.

Of course, this is only what is being reported.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

your lecturing and japan-explaining are totally unnecessary. If Japan...

And yet, here you are lecturing us about Japan and the Japanese yen. Which is it?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ Dochira

"Japan doesn't care what you think."

This haughty attitude will get them nowhere.

Frankly, if Japan doesn't care what others think of their policies then I say let them go it alone.

This xenophobic and insular way of thinking will just further their isolation on the world stage.

Good luck!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Japan is going to keep up this nonsense for years

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I wanted what's going to happen when some of these people in these guided tours decide to venture out on their own? Believe me, it's going to happen.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I just read where the USA will lift the requirement for foreign air travelers to show a positive Covid test to enter the country. This is suppose to take affect on Sunday, just in time for summer travelers from overseas.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan on Friday eased its borders for foreign tourists and began accepting visa applications, but only for those on guided package tours who are willing to follow mask-wearing and other antivirus measures as the country cautiously tries to balance business and infection worries.

These people are vaccinated, and take Covid tests, but they are expected to follow measures other returnees need not do?

I must say for residents returning to Japan, the entry procedures are a cakewalk compared to a few months ago.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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