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Coronavirus crisis taking its toll on Japan's tourist industry

39 Comments
By Daniel Leussink and Makiko Yamazaki

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39 Comments
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Tourism is only a money making scheme for a few as the real world employed get the low wages and short end of a dead end job that leads to nowhere. While it may put a few yen in ones pocket tough to pay a mortgage and cost of living with that kind of work. If the Minister of Labor, Trade etc and Business Development focused on Research and Development, that would lead to higher tech and wage jobs, in turn save our resources while we enjoy traveling and sustain our future. This virus is a great example that was due to pressing tourism and now we are faced with a big problem and few answers.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

There is going to be a lot of pain for a lot of people. It is just getting started.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Haven't been to Kanto area in years but I didn't expect to see a tuktuk in an article about Japan tourism.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Abe was right to get the tourism and immigrant economy started but Ive always thought that Japan, with its natural disasters, reluctance to change or accept foreigners, uncommitted to learn English and insular culture, its a risky venture. Now with this virus, its more complicated. He never got the 3rd arrow of deregulation started; just some short term gimmicks. SG was able to absorb allot of HKs business during their protest; an easy move for MNCs. Japan with its peculiar culture and language barriers must change or else.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Whilst one welcomes capitalism getting the occasional bloody nose, it's most worrying for small business owners and family run restaurants, bars, etc.

The corporates can take a hit. The people, ie. most of us, can't.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Most of those complaining have been making easy money for the past 6 years or so on the back of expanding tourism.

They should be realistic and not expect the easy times to last forever.

Much of the hardship will be resulting from those greedier establishments that over expanded with what was obviously an unsustainable growth in tourism here.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

The sad thing about Japanese people that want to break away from the wasted youth study juko hell ----uni --- company ---marriage ---- retire ---- ryojin home trap, is that there are few entrepreneurial opportunities like this young guy is doing. They open a ramen shop to support the zombies at lunch and dinner, taxi drivers, or some other support role. Not much of break away jobs out there that are international, maybe language teaching, airports. The new tourism thing was providing some of them with a new environment.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Whilst one welcomes capitalism getting the occasional bloody nose, it's most worrying for small business owners and family run restaurants, bars, etc.

The corporates can take a hit. The people, ie. most of us, can't.

You shouldn’t welcome an economic downturn. Ordinary people bear the brunt of it.

I work for a large, multinational company but you can guarantee it’ll be the foot soldiers like myself who’ll suffer if things turn really bad.

Large, medium-sized and small business employees are all in the firing line.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Fickle industry, the government should stop using it as an easy crutch for Abenomics' failures

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Hotel prices have dropped dramatically, and will again as availability soars. We are due in 2 weeks and I have rebooked all my rooms with the big chains to save money. Any Roykens I have reservations with I’ve left and will pay the price I originally agreed. It’s a buyers market!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Any Roykens I have reservations with I’ve left and will pay the price I originally agreed.

Well good luck. Nice of you to still pay the ryokan if you’re being honest here. Probably safer at the ryokan anyway.

invalid CSRF

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Man,The Japanese will hate to admit it but they have to rely on Chinese to support their economy nowadays.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Really,what happened to Japan.

It's not all on Japan. China is 10 times bigger and naturally going to be a bigger economy in normal circumstances. 30 years ago was not normal. Japan was in a bubble and China was just coming out of decades of dystopian Communism.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Japan is far from the only country that has developed an addiction to Chinese money. And Tourism is hardly the only industry.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Japan is desperately in need of fresh ideas, vision and imagination. Far beyond what is reasonable, patience and endurance have morphed from admired virtues into gaman for the sake of gaman, cynically exploited by those happy with an arrangement that sees an increasing number of people consigned to stunted, monochromatic lives of quiet desperation. Conditioned to taking the line of least resistance and unaccustomed to calling their leaders out, the long suffering masses are now down for the coronavirus count bereft of hope and paralysed by inculcated fatalism, whipped on regardless of the escalating cost to the nation's psyche.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Kyoto being particularly hard hit. It's so stark, the contrast with just a few weeks ago. Already those rental kimono places that had sprouted up on every corner downtown are folding and going out of business. Restaurants are empty. Livelihoods are being lost.

It's like a ghost town now. I guess that's what happens when you put all your eggs into one basket. I really feel for people involved in the tourist industry.

People are really struggling how.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Abe’s decision is already forcing airlines to cancel flights...

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Interesting comment @Most of those complaining have been making easy money for the past 6 years or so on the back of expanding tourism. They should be realistic and not expect the easy times to last forever. Which ties in to @Abe was right to get the tourism and immigrant economy started but as posted earlier, and reiterated by another's comment @Japan is desperately in need of fresh ideas, vision and imagination. This proves why banking on solely "tourism" as a source of wealth for the nation is not the best way to go nor banking all your "eggs" in one basket either. MFG should be done within the country that made Japan great, continued research and development creates a strong/healthy economy as well as gets the best students pressing and competing for these jobs vs low end wages that go no where but misery and end up with other social issues like increases in suicides, domestic violence, theft etc.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

oyatoi and rgcivilian make great observations and comments, and those things have been mentioned for years. Im at a loss, however, as to suggest what Japan can do for itself. They dont take English education seriously; those who have lived abroad and bring it back here are shut down when they express themselves by the majority. I sometimes might order something in English, just to get my point across, and a staff who has clearly lived abroad, or has a strong interest in English, will intervene, but it becomes an annoying experience, like he/she wants to reconnect to something, instead of the natural experience you get elsewhere of service. Its this unnatural, inflexible and insular attitude that is initially attractive, but long term annoying because its Japanese way or no way. To change such ingrained behaviors, who knows how.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

When I graduated from Sophia University in 1983 with a bachelor's degree, Japan was in its bubble economy and Chinese were still poor farmers toiling under a dystopian communist regime.

I remember my college professor telling our class that we would be the ones laughing last when in 30 years time China would become a powerhouse economy outstripping an aging Japan. We all laughed unable to imagine anything of the sort ever happening.

Fast forward to today and we now all realize that Japan's demise is inevitable. A rapidly aging society whose work force continues to shrink year by year and its people's unwillingness to embrace worldly concepts does not bode well for them.

Japan relys now heavily on tourism in order to maintain a stable economy, and Japanese are spendthrifts willing to become debt ridden in the pursuit of luxury items. The difference, however, between Japanese and Chinese is that Chinese have money and Japanese do not. Chinese people don't risk going into debt over a large purchase whereas Japanese people will put their life on the line to keep up with the Jones.

Few realize that China is in control now and everyone else is playing their puppet. The truth of the matter is that Japan is heavily dependent upon Chinese tourism and the revenue it generates. Without it everything comes crashing down.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@David Shawn Kanda

You're completely right. The writing has been on the wall for many, many years. I remember writing a paper on the issue for my final Japanese language project in the early 90s. The demographic born after the War and their kids in 70s were on the horizon heading for us at full speed, then. But the ostrich just buried its head in the sand.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The travel business model is awful. For airlines and hotels it is poor longterm savings. Shareholders grab retained earnings during profitable years - they should hold that cash for lean periods. None of us sympathise when we want to travel or stay in a hotel during peak holidays. If they have the power to double or treble peak holiday prices then they have to take these recessions on the chin.

I feel sorry for workers on the shop floor who don't benefit from the good years then lose their jobs at these times. Airlines who have laid off staff are a disgrace.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Actually most of the Japanese people believe in the Japanese government who is in charge of Bank of Japan. Whenever situation like that occurs big corporations and hotels will be supported by money from BOJ per government request.

Many of my colleagues work for big hotel chains and they still work full time even though there are very few customers. And they don't worry completely as money will come from BOJ (you can actually Google it - money stimulus).

As someone mention before going into debt to show off by Japanese is not a problem. There would be a problem if Bank of Japan would lose a trust internationally but then all central banks would be in troubles which means global crisis.

Therefore it's actually is our way or no way!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

thats interesting Satedaya; I have heard that all the 5 star hotels in Japan are owned by Japanese and / or Japanese rail companies.

Perhaps the joke is on us the foreigner, and they ones in charge know it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In looking at a bright side, it is a good window of opportunity for young, frugal travellers. Prices for accommodation go down, overcrowds can be avoided. Downside: many sightseeing spots may stay closed or business hours cut short. But going outside in natural, open spaces must be ok and fun. I would feel like visiting deeper countryside alone while there are good yet relatively unknown tourist destinations in least affected regions across Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It’s spreading Yamanashi and Akita first cases recorded.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Think most people won’t be missing groups of loud inconsiderate Chinese tourists shouting at each other around Tokyo. If it’s any consolation, when this is all over they’ll all be back, and we’ll all go back to avoiding those areas they congregate in. Abe will be desperate to bring them all back too..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@David

Japan relys now heavily on tourism in order to maintain a stable economy,

Inbound tourism (categorized as "export") has yet to contribute a lot to Japan's entire GDP, 10-15 % of which are exports while most goods and services are domestically produced and consumed within the country.

The difference, however, between Japanese and Chinese is that Chinese have money and Japanese do not.

To be exact, "some" Chinese are richer than the average Japanese. Gini index shows a bigger economic inequality among Chinese than Japanese.

Chinese people don't risk going into debt over a large purchase whereas Japanese people will put their life on the line to keep up with the Jones.

By stats, Chinese are found more debt-ridden while Japanese are tighter, more hawkish on financing. But of course, having debt itself is NOT necessarily bad for individual life improvements or country's economic growth. Perhaps that's the point Japan can learn from China...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

a boon for an economy already on the brink of recession

Can someone tell me how is an economy of a shrinking population is NOT supposed to be in recession??? Especially considering that twenty years from now there will be at least 15 million less Japanese?! I don't find Japan a productive country at all. Diligent yes, of course, productive not so much compared to other highly developed countries.

If the government's goal is to stop the recession than they should give up IMO.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Coronavirus crisis taking its toll on Japan's tourist industry".

Absolutely true, tautology.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stop comparing Chinese and Japanese. They're both just as materialistic as each other.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The once crowded streets of Shinjuku are almost empty.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan is a wonderful country to visit. But it needs to advertise better. Spend money on Europe and spread words on how wonderful Japan is, such as automatic taxi door and 4 seasons of weather. Then more Europeans will flock to Japan!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

“.......how wonderful Japan is, such as........4 seasons of weather.”

‘All 4 season countries are equal, but some are more equal than others'

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@kurisupisu

Abe’s decision is already forcing airlines to cancel flights...

Yes. That shows why Abe's decision is meaningless except for political motivation. The entire airline and tourist industry around the world is already suffering. The number of passengers between Japan and Korea has already declined drastically, making any new travel ban or restriction meaningless. Private companies react far faster than the government in dealing with the epidemic. Abe Sang just imposed travel restriction on the already severely shrinked travel. He notified his decision to China, but not to S. Korea before the announcement, to provoke anti-Korean sentiment again among Japanese as you can see here. This is a typical trick of Abe Sang, as you have seen in the laser-lock fuss, the verdict on the forced labor, and etc. It has been very successful until now, but I am skeptical whether he can keep his title until the 2020 olympic.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

and all those new tourist taxes like Kyoto implemented , all doing the money grab, seems like karma has a funny way of catching up to you

1 ( +1 / -0 )

such as automatic taxi door and 4 seasons of weather. Then more Europeans will flock to Japan!

many taxis overseas use vans Toyota Nissans and many of them have automatic sliding doors, actually I dont know of many new vans that dont have them,

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Man,The Japanese will hate to admit it but they have to rely on Chinese to support their economy nowadays.

And Koreans. Weeks before the Chinese tourists dried up, the Koreans ones did because of a childish spat between idiot politicians.

Even after Covid-19 is a distant memory, tourism probably won't return to previous levels for quite some time, unless Japan and Korea relations become a little more grown-up.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Not only will a lot of small businesses close, but there will be secondary effects as those small businesses can longer spend money either.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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