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Japan keeps tourism freeze despite plunge in virus cases

71 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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71 Comments
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Enjoy domestic tourism while you can, folks. We're off to an onsen for three days next month.

11 ( +22 / -11 )

Yeah it’s about time to start some sort of reopening plan, too many businesses are on the brink

19 ( +26 / -7 )

Rather than reminiscing about the good old days of shop full of foreign tourists, the “kawaii” shop in Harajuku should start selling products that appeal to domestic customers.

-8 ( +17 / -25 )

Looks like Gizmo from Gremlins got a pink purse shoved onto his head as a costume in that photo! - Still a cute take-a-way for girl’s that love “Kawaii!!”.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

Time to start the idea of reciprocation, Japan.

Open up and you'll have others open up in return.

7 ( +24 / -17 )

Is that a giant rat ? How is that cute ?

4 ( +14 / -10 )

I suspect that the government wants to get the election out of the way before making any announcement about easing border controls.

Quarantine-free travel for residents and nationals is long overdue though.

17 ( +24 / -7 )

They could do a good business selling online.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

“Foreigners understand ‘kawaii' more emotionally than do Japanese. "

-7 ( +9 / -16 )

The tourism industry needs to target local residents for some time. Even though the border is re-opened the priority is put on students, workers and business personnel.

I wonder if kawaii can also attract senior and rich tourists who are discouraged from traveling abroad.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Not planning a visit until April - but I am guessing as things stand, my Japanese citizen wife and child would be allowed in but not me? These days I just enter on a tourist permit.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Keep the tourism freeze, fine. But let students and researchers start coming in again. Japan is letting its researchers and students go abroad to study but they're not reciprocating. It's wildly unfair not to mention highly hypocritical.

10 ( +18 / -8 )

We have been doing heavy travel to support the people of Japan since coming back fro South East Asia In December 2019. Trip number 16 scheduled for half of December I. Kyushu on the super Kanko Trains circling it. Just finalized January for Kanazawa area agin, and for Setsubun in Kyoto in February.

Fabulous traveling times and only will get better but book early as hotels are starting to fill up now.

Support the country you live in and spend to help out others if you can. We are lucky we can.

I plan to see the store in the article this weekend and buy some things to give to friends, as I prefer to support places through food and drink, as not into filling closets with uneeded items.

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

Bad news for the kawaii shops: the tourists ain’t coming back for a long time.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

WA4TKGToday  05:08 pm JST

Is that a giant rat ? How is that cute ?

No it's not a rat.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_pika

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Cute? I suppose so. It's gone quite psychedelic and flamboyant.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

You're a dreamer if you think foreign tourists will be allowed in for next year's cherry blossoms. I've already given up that idea and booked six weeks in Mexico, Costa Rica and Belize. But, when I think about it, I've been in Japan five different times since my first visit in March, 2011, when I got caught in the middle of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. A total of 34 weeks in those five trips, and more than a hundred towns and cities from the south tip of Honshu to the north end of Hokkaido. In all seasons except winter. I suppose I should be thankful. But, I'll still miss the many friends I've made.

Oh well, shrug the shoulders and carry on with life. We're still lucky to be here, as far as I'm concerned. And I caught the COVID beast fifteen months ago. Wouldn't wish it on anyone. So, keep the borders closed for as long as you wish.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

I was just overwhelmed by all the colors in those pictures.

overdosed on kawaii, for sure.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

@Akula: As it stands that is correct. However, if you were coming with your wife and child, you could apply for a visa. I know one person who managed to get one under the same circumstances but others who failed.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Throwing the borders open for a tourist free-for-all at this stage wouldn't be wise, I don't think anyone would disagree. But for similarly vaccinated countries (say around the 80% mark) the option of opening travel routes with Japan should at least be being talked about. If this method was adopted, along with current requirement of still requiring proof of vaccination and a negative test result to enter, the risk of a foreign traveller catching/transmitting Covid would be less than a local.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

@Trevor: Nice words and glad you loved Japan and saw much of it. Not bad in the winter either, so hopefully within a year you can come back.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

That's fine, it's not like tourism didn't come with its own set of problems. Better enjoy Kyoto while you can

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I am not really sure if that is true, most of the products sold in Japanese gift shops are from China, has been and will always be, so why would Chinese tourists who make up about 50% of tourists want to buy Made in China products!! unless it's re- labeled !???

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

MarkToday  08:01 pm JST

I am not really sure if that is true, most of the products sold in Japanese gift shops are from China, has been and will always be, so why would Chinese tourists who make up about 50% of tourists want to buy Made in China products!! unless it's re- labeled !???

Chinese tourists didn't come to Japan to buy "Made in China" tourist trinkets. They came to buy "Made in Japan" products of all sorts from cosmetics to household appliances. Often in large volumes.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

To be controversial: I can't help thinking Japan is making the right decision. I've been hypercritical of everything they've done so far and yet they seem to be coming out of it pretty well - time to shut my mouth.

In the mean time: time to make the most out of tourist-free sight-seeing spots.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Iam sorry but this article is incorrect - cute does not mean "awesome" or "wonderful" .

Using the word foreigners so much sounds prejudice in my opinion.

You could say - westerners or Europeans or something else but to refer to all non Japanese as foreigners or Gaijin or outsiders is just insulting.

Especially when you look around see everyone wearing non Japanese clothing and food and buildings and technology everywhere.

From bicycle to lightbulbs and cars to ball caps tennis shoes and collar shirts and ties.

Its definitely not only in Japan either.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

If Japan reopens too quick and Covid cases increase..... Same people would complain Japan is not responsible, doesn't care about its citizens, puts the economy above people's life's.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

The government was all too happy to take credit when the number of inbound tourists hit 3 million a month and since the pandemic has been all too silent about the economic damage to those who served those 3 million a month, many of them in jobs that are not high paying.

Inbound tourism is so skewed to certain hotspot locations that opening the border to tourists will not be a vote winner for many. Most people in most towns and cities around Japan will just see a lack of inbound tourists as Kyoto's problem, Niseko's problem, Shirakawa-go's problem etc. and will prefer the thought of potentially one less person with Covid entering Japan. As Ravey Davey says, that's a big factor why no-one is mentioning it before the election.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I wish they could keep the borders closed forever, I love traveling without the noise and annoyance of rowdy tourists from other Asian countries.

-14 ( +8 / -22 )

Tourists are less of a virus threat than locals as they have to test negative before getting on a plane, and may also have to be double jabbed. So that would make them uninfected and 100% double jabbed, unlike general populations.

You don't catch Covid from foreigners. Globally, we will all stabilise on the most dominant variant. Borders change nothing. They just isolate countries and damage sectors of the economy.

It's Japan's choice but a lot will switch to South Korea, especially after 'Squid Game', if JP doesn't open up and SK does.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Japan's not a very popular destination anymore anyway

-12 ( +5 / -17 )

Subarashi- awesome

Suteki - lovely

Kawaii -cute

-15 ( +0 / -15 )

I wish they could keep the borders closed forever, I love traveling without the noise and annoyance of rowdy tourists from other Asian countries.

These ‘rowdy tourists’ help support many businesses.

Hope you’re spending an absolute fortune on your travels.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

come on Japan open your borders to vaccinated travellers, I want to come and visit again..

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Like much of Asia, including Taiwan, Vietnam and Australia, Japan’s borders remain closed to tourists.

I think the author of this article should study more geography.

Since when Australia is part of Asia?

Oh myy

0 ( +5 / -5 )

This does not surprise me. This is a perfect opportunity for politicians who are nationalistic to push isolationism.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Sad to say I agree with the professor: Japan won't open to foreign tourists for years. The Japanese voters who think tourists should be allowed back in won't be nearly as vocal as those who say that foreign tourists make them feel "anxious" or whatever catchword gets their representatives to heed their calls.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I don't see the problem in allowing travelers if they are a) vaccinated, b) tested, and c) willing to quarantine for a week or so. Sure, especially that quarantine would rule out tourists that would only come for a few days or a week, and of course also the Chinese who only hop in to go carry around clear plastic shopping bags for two days (can't say I would miss those, honestly). But it would allow in those who are genuinely interested in the country and its culture, and willing to make a small sacrifice for it, effectively it would be a short-term "cultural activities" visa.

I expect things to move rather quickly after the election, but the workers' and especially the students' visas need to come first. And then let's see if Japan is really willing to swallow a 99% loss of tourism income on another sakura season (I doubt it).

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

As I previously and repeatedly wrote Japan will be the latest country of all earth to reopen its borders to foreign tourists

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

These ‘rowdy tourists’ help support many businesses.

Not mine; plus the damage to the economy and the mental health of most people is already irreversible. No amount of tourists will make the things the way they were before this circus.

Hope you’re spending an absolute fortune on your travels.

I'm not sure what you consider to be a fortune but let me assure you, I never travel on a budget.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Yoshida doesn't expect foreign visitors to return until cherry blossom season next year.

Really wish countries would start reciprocating. This is absurd. I wonder how many small businesses have been and will be destroyed.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

As I previously and repeatedly wrote Japan will be the latest country of all earth to reopen its borders to foreign tourists

Maybe the last first-world country, but they won't be the last. Japanese are risk adverse, they'll wait until they feel comfortable, which will be slower than more reckless nations like America. That's ok, it's their country to decide when they feel comfortable letting people back in.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

It hard to believe people, would travel to Japan, to act out some anime fantasy, especially an mature adult,

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

If Japan wants tourists back, and foreign businesses to start up there, they need to scrap the quarantine rules if people are double jabbed and tested.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Are those just the effects of lights or did she really paint her one hand green?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Harajuku is a declining relic of the 1980's. Maybe it's te for such shops to go online.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

I am really baffled how most of you believe that things will go back to normal.

What's normal? There has never been a time when change did not occur, so there is no "normal" to get back to.

But it's silly to think that we won't go back to a period of normalcy. Medicine is nearly at the point where it can be managed to keep people alive and from getting sick. Once that happens, life will mostly get back to normal levels of change.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

When Japan or any country eventually opens, it should be open to any law abiding traveler regardless of inoculation status. Nobody should be restricted just because they do not feel comfortable taking a risky vaccine in which we have limited knowledge. Besides, if one can catch Covid (assuming it even exists) with an inoculation, it does not seems like this questionable vaccine is beneficial at all. Colin Powell does and he was vaccinated.

Japan please do not turn into Canada, Australia. New Zealand or certain areas of the United States such as New York City. In New York City, if one cannot work or go to a restaurant without being inoculated, that sounds like abuse to me.

If everyone would just remove the shades, one would realize what is really going on. Extremely scary.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Japan please do not turn into Canada, Australia. New Zealand or certain areas of the United States such as New York City. In New York City, if one cannot work or go to a restaurant without being inoculated, that sounds like abuse to me.

Japan please DO turn into Canada, Australia, and NZ - three countries in the world that took the health of their citizens seriously, and resulting in high vaccination rates, low death rates, and economies that are doing just fine. These countries provided models of how to act in a pandemic.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

Kyoto does not need 40 million foreign tourists a year. Its beauty and culture survived well over the centuries without them. But it was rapidly being destroyed by the tourist invasion until being rescued by Covid.

Geiko and maiko again go about their business without being assaulted, the signs and loudspeaker messages in 4 languages telling people how to behave have disappeared.

Good time to rethink the whole inbound tourist thing: no benefits and a lot of negatives for 99% of the population.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

You think temple's and shrines

And buddhism is Japanese culture ?

Its time to bring back Matthew Perry and his black ships to open up Japan again.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Throwing the borders open for a tourist free-for-all at this stage wouldn't be wise, I don't think anyone would disagree.

I would disagree, completely. Japan is free to do what it wants, but to say it would be "unwise" based on the premise that Covid is still some kind of threat, is absurd.

But for similarly vaccinated countries (say around the 80% mark) the option of opening travel routes with Japan should at least be being talked about. If this method was adopted, along with current requirement of still requiring proof of vaccination and a negative test result to enter, the risk of a foreign traveller catching/transmitting Covid would be less than a local.

And there it is. As if vaccination makes a difference. Countries (like Canada) that are nearly 80% vaxed still have all kinds of restrictions in place. Other countries (like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden) have basically no restrictions in place and basically back to pre-Covid times. Florida in the US too. It is all totally arbitrary, and the vax rate makes no difference to anything. So many people buy into this absurd, faulty premise that the vax somehow stops the spread of the virus. It doesn't (and that's a FACT).

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Japan please DO turn into Canada, Australia, and NZ - three countries in the world that took the health of their citizens seriously, and resulting in high vaccination rates, low death rates, and economies that are doing just fine. These countries provided models of how to act in a pandemic.

I just fled here from Canada, which is now a dystopian nightmare country. Society there is unravelling as a large percentage of the population is now shut out of society and having their lives destroyed by the government. Australia is even worse, with police running people down on horseback for daring to demonstrate outdoors against the brutal lockdowns.

Meanwhile you have countries like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden that have no vax mandates and pretty much back to pre-Covid levels. Florida in the US, likewise. There is no difference in death rates among these countries - only differences in government brutality against their citizens. Canada, Aus, and NZ are all a disgrace (unless you think fascism is a good thing). I am deeply ashamed of Canada. Japan would do well to follow the example of Norway or Denmark instead.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Japan's waiting for the green light or should i say blue lol

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

@ John Delaney

You fled out of the frying pan and into the fire.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@ John Delaney

You fled out of the frying pan and into the fire.

How so? No vax mandates here, and I don't need to scan a QR code to enter places like restaurants. Japan is very more reasonable than Canada, so far as I can see. I understand that could all change, if the Japanese government decides to go all in on the insanity, in which case I will leave and go somewhere else. But for now, it seems reasonable.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

My company wants to transfer me to Japan, so I have employment, and my wife is Japanese. Time to start issuing visas.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

6%DOKIDOKI opened 26 years ago and has a loyal following: when it was imperiled by the pandemic downturn, supporters in and outside Japan started up crowd-funding campaigns to keep it afloat.

So Japan wants to keep a freeze on foriegn tourists, but wants foriegners to help keep Japanese business's afloat. Just not in the real world.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

John DelaneyToday 10:59 am JST

There is no difference in death rates among these countries

I don't know where you got this information from, but it is not correct. Per capita, Sweden has twice as many deaths as Canada, three times as many as Denmark, 8 times as many as Norway and Japan, 22 times as many as Australia, and around 300 times as many deaths as New Zealand. I would argue that this qualifies as "difference."

Data source: https://bit.ly/3146neP

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I don't know where you got this information from, but it is not correct. Per capita, Sweden has twice as many deaths as Canada, three times as many as Denmark, 8 times as many as Norway and Japan, 22 times as many as Australia, and around 300 times as many deaths as New Zealand. I would argue that this qualifies as "difference."

Data source: https://bit.ly/3146neP

No, you just don't understand what statistical relevance is. If one country had '0' deaths, and another had '3' deaths, you could say that the first country had 300% more deaths. But it doesn't mean anything at scale. Assuming the data is that source is even accurate (it probably isn't, as Covid death statistics are notoriously unreliable - you'd have to properly differentiate between dying with Covid from dying of Covid, which isn't done) the numbers of deaths are so few that the marginal differences aren't relevant.

Sweden is totally on par with with other countries, like the UK. Sweden is not a statistical outlier. Apparently New Zealand is an outlier (being an isolated island in the South Pacific), but Sweden is not.

Also, you're cherry picking. Norway has a similar vaccination rate to Sweden, and it also has a totally open society (back to pre-Covid levels of restrictions), but it hasn't experienced an upswing in deaths.

Lastly, the context of my original reply was not Covid deaths, but 'Covid cases'. The vaccines do not stop transmission of the virus, so you can't expect to see (and don't see) countries with higher vax rates have few cases.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Why else are comments concerning reality removed again and again?

Censorship is nearly ubiquitous online now, unfortunately.

Where else in the ‘first world’ is the minimum wage half of the UK and a third of Australia?

Where are millions of houses derelict and that number is also increasing?

To be fair, pretty much every Anglosphere nation is worse for more of its citizens to live in than Japan is. Having a higher minimum wage isn't helpful when your governments are printing trillions of dollars/pounds causing massive inflation throughout your economies (which is a wealth transfer from the middle class to giant corporations). Japan also does to to some extent, but there is less inflation and less money being looted by a parasitic elite.

Japan is not perfect, but I have to say their government at least cares to some degree about the wellbeing of its citizenry. I honestly cannot say the same about the US, UK, Canada, or Australia, where our governments are overtly hostile to us. It costs around $2+ million dollars to buy a basic stand-alone home anywhere in Vancouver or Toronto. It's possible for a family to buy a home for a fraction of that price in the suburbs of Tokyo. Just saying.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I just fled here from Canada, which is now a dystopian nightmare country. Society there is unravelling as a large percentage of the population is now shut out of society and having their lives destroyed by the government. Australia is even worse, with police running people down on horseback for daring to demonstrate outdoors against the brutal lockdowns.

What are you even talking about? They're going to concerts and hockey games in Canada. They can have unrestricted gatherings, and they are able to go to restaurants. It's extremely free there.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I just can't wait for all those empty ski runs / resorts / onsens etc this winter. Its the third of the price in my country Mmmmmmmmmmm fresh white powder!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

What are you even talking about? They're going to concerts and hockey games in Canada. They can have unrestricted gatherings, and they are able to go to restaurants. It's extremely free there.

No, you are completely mistaken about this. If you don't have a vaccine pass (QR code), then you can't do any of the above in Canada. Canada is an Orwellian nightmare country. Many people are being forced out of their jobs as well, and having their lives destroyed by mandates.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@JohnDealy

Wondering how you got into Japan. You must be either Japanese or a PR, not a new arrival as you pretend.

Canada did well containing the pandemic considering the high infection and death rate in the neighbouring US. The highest vaccination rates in the G7 have paid off.

Japan is now approaching the same level, with similar payoff.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@JohnDealy

Wondering how you got into Japan. You must be either Japanese or a PR, not a new arrival as you pretend.

Lol, apparently I can't even reply to you without moderators censoring my posts. I don't know what to say, other than you're incorrect and you should research Japanese immigration rules.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

StrangerlandOct. 30 05:38 am JST

I am really baffled how most of you believe that things will go back to normal.

What's normal? There has never been a time when change did not occur, so there is no "normal" to get back to.

But it's silly to think that we won't go back to a period of normalcy. Medicine is nearly at the point where it can be managed to keep people alive and from getting sick. Once that happens, life will mostly get back to normal levels of change.

Really, medicine is nearly at the point where people won’t die or get sick?  In which alternate binary universe do you live? Have there been any successful cases where someone has never died when their time was up or someone who has never been sick, due to medicine?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

El RataOct. 29  08:52 pm JST

I wish they could keep the borders closed forever, I love traveling without the noise and annoyance of rowdy tourists from other Asian countries.

 

You obviously are not employed in the tourism industry, or any of its offshoots, not to mention being selfish.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Open up, Japan! Yeah, sure. Ha, ha, ha.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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