national

Japan scraps plan to give away 10,000 free flights to visitors

74 Comments

The Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) has given up its plan to give away 10,000 free flights to foreigners to visit the country after the government refused to allocate a budget for the campaign.

The 1.18 billion yen budget request for the project titled Fly to Japan! (to offer flight tickets to 10,000 foreigners) was not approved as part of the governmental draft budget for FY 2012, the JTA said on its website.

The campaign, which received a lot of media coverage in the autumn when it was first announced, was supposed to bring tourists back to Japan after the natural disasters of March 11 and the ongoing problems at the Fukushima nuclear plant, as well as reinvigorate the Japanese tourism industry.

"We realize that this announcement is going to disappoint thousands of people around the world, but we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction," the JTA said on its website.

The government has been trying to get the message out to the world that Japan is still a safe destination to visit, except for area around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and that the country has many attractive tourist destinations.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

74 Comments
Login to comment

but we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction,”

NO DUH !!!!!!!!

People with no jobs !!!!!!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

wow, way to blow an easy oppurtunity to help the economy and boost tourism. The return on investment would have been high on this, but i guess thinking outside the box is not the way the government wants to do business. Bad move!

1 ( +7 / -6 )

“We realize that this announcement is going to disappoint thousands of people around the world, but we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction,”

Yep... just put it towards defense of whaling instead, or buying fighter jets that don't work, or dam projects....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“We realize that this announcement is going to disappoint thousands of people around the world, but we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction,”

Yep... the government can instead put it towards defense of whaling instead, or buying fighter jets that don't work, or dam projects....

How is this off topic, mods? It points out how the government will misuse earmarked relief funds for A, B, and C, but not for tourism, which would bring money IN instead of simply flushing it out.

Moderator: Why mention whaling and fighter jets at all? There are hundreds of items in the budget.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Plus it's more than likely Japan will experience another major earthquake less than 5 years. Th devastation will take decades to rebuild it's a slap in the face if they buy free airfare tickets.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It was an irresponsible promotion in the first place if they had not secured the means before making the promise; don't put the onus on the people to 'understand'.

26 ( +29 / -4 )

people who want to come to Japan will come here anyway...

14 ( +14 / -4 )

"We realize that this announcement is going to disappoint thousands of people"

actually the number of disappointed should be exactly 10000.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Another bubble dreams burst.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Absolutely correct and right on!

From the beginning, I was totally against this idea. Free loaders are free loaders for everything. They will not spend money as you want them to.

6 ( +8 / -3 )

this reminds me of the time they funneled disaster relief funds to the whaling cause, the time that they downplayed the nuclear accident, said there were no meltdowns and then later admitted it was of a scale on par with Chernobyl, the time when they said Fukushima rice was safe to eat, the time when they got a new PM and changed him less than a year later, the time when people very friendly onvited me for dinner and then it never happened, the time when..

12 ( +15 / -4 )

Anyway, hotel flight package deals are cheaper than just searching for hotels.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It sorta was too good to be true and i can understand why budget approval has not been given. I don't think it would go down well in any country.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Another broken promise. So disappointing J-gov.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Agree Smith - why set up the promotion without the funding to resource it? Not exactly good practice, is it and now it just makes Japan look bad (again).

7 ( +8 / -1 )

One more dumb idea of Minshuto. How someone in right mind can imagine something so stupid ?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I swear these guys must be smoking weed or something.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Oh what a surprise. a gang of bureaucrats come up with a project costing millions of yen - let's not forget the man hours for the hundreds of meetings they had about this - without thinking things through. Institutionalised incompetence.

9 ( +12 / -2 )

I just hope that the money they say cannot be allocated because it would be a slap in the face to the affected communities, is actually GIVEN to the affected communities...

9 ( +10 / -1 )

It's now too late minshuto,many Japanese already know of their dirty game and not try duck out of their responsibilities It will only worsen your situation.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The Japanese government under DPJ is getting weired and unpredictable! I pity the people who lost homes and lives in the tsunami and living under an adminsitration who couldnt made 'dreams' come true!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction

Out of the 10,000 free flights given, many of these would like to see the affected areas, so in effect, would help the towns and villages.

Also, 1.18 billion yen is small change compared to the 600 billion yen that TEPCO is asking for.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why not scale down those 'free trips' rather than totally canceling it? That will be better for japan's image and a big saving. They can take visitors to visit 'Ropponggi' entertainment only, I think there is where people feel interests!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Fostering promotional hospitality prices for hotels or talking tour operators into offering more advantageous rates would probably be more effective than what had been planned.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Lets get the disasters fixed up and people in a home until we worry about the problems 10,000 more foreigners could bring. Their tourist yen will be very nice for damaged business. Rebuilding and economy, we can manage by ourselves, not need for silly free foreigner visit campaign!

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

I know some young people who were very excited about these tickets and hoped to visit Japan in the late spring or summer. They were waiting for more news. Well, now they've gotten it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction,” the JTA said on its website.

So the JTA are admitting their own plan was insensitive!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

How stupid does this look now.

3 ( +3 / -1 )

@Kentaro75, you don't seem to understand. Offering FREE travel would bring in more money now than when everything's fixed up. Out of the 10,000 who would be coming, a large percentage of this would like to see the damaged areas as it is. In turn, international groups may sponsor some aspects of the campaign.

Also, how can Japan rebuild the economy "by ourselves" when Japanese companies left and right are paying millions of dollars due to lawsuits, infringements and other bloopers. Also, if you haven't noticed, Japan's economy is sinking fast, with the car companies bailing out, making assembly plants overseas.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

pheww, i'm glad! ppl should pay for flights, help out japan by paying up.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Thank God they eliminated that stupid promotion. If visitors want a free lunch, they'd have to go somewhere else.

0 ( +4 / -3 )

@smithinjapan there was never ever any promise and never any promotion,they were 'mulling' over the idea.just 'mulling' so,yes,the onus shouldn't be on people to understand-particularly if they don't know the facts or worse,twist them..a bad idea has been shelved so don't make it out to be something it wasn't.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

oh well! im still going! I dont see while people should complain about not having free flights when you think there still some people living without a roof over there heads. Put the money towards helping people to get back onto there feet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan scraps plan to give away 10,000 free flights to visitors

A junior staffer added, "We didn't really think this through. When it was realized that '10,000 visitors' meant '10,000 foreigners,' well, that's when support for the program evaporated. We hope to refocus the program on providing free tickets to Tohoku for Japanese so as to support their human rights."

0 ( +1 / -1 )

calm down: "there was never ever any promise and never any promotion,they were 'mulling' over the idea."

They did far more than 'mull over' the idea, my friend, they announced they would do it, and it received some pretty widespread international attention. They did, with less fan-fare, announce it was dependent on budgetary approval, but that didn't stop them from patting themselves on the back over the CAMPAIGN.

I'm just curious how much money was spent on the promise -- errrr... 'mulling', if you insist, and media announcements, etc., that could have gone towards the people of Tohoku but instead was 'insensitively' used for this failure?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

"!0,000 free flights"... *certain restrictions apply, as in, you have to pay for the flight yourself Gotta read the fine print.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

CoolBizJapan goes back on its word after making a media frenzy out of it. Seems rather Cold to me.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@smith.,'they announced they would do it'..if you can give me a link to that, your argument would be much tighter,my friend...'We promise to give away 10,000 flights !!!!!! But we need approval first..' Yeah,sure that sad sack announcement happened.

-2 ( +2 / -3 )

of course it was too good to be true...

As I am based in NYC I donated 250 bucks right after 3/11 to the japan society earthquake relief fund as I was so upset...

and yet to throw away money so foreigners can come here? not while so many people are suffering with economic hardship, no way!

I arrived here to Japan last week and paid the full airfare out of my own pocket and it was not at all cheap, plus $275 extra for heavy weight (ripoff) to the airline... I would have felt like an idiot taking a free flight, in such circumstances. I am glad someone with a sense of reality put a stop to that give away. Now, Japan just needs to cut its handouts to the UN after being a patsy for so long and getting nothing in return. Japan is the 2nd largest donor to the UN and for what? Operation Tomodachi was a great American response that I can be proud of, but lets all do our part now to be true allies and friends to Japan.

Come here by all means! You can do a lot and still not go broke even if you have to eat noddles from a street vendor or beef bowls from Yoshinoya instead of fois gras hamburgers topped with caviar at Wendys in Omotosando. .

I love Japan but we can't be freeloaders on Japans natural generosity.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

What? Now you see now you don't ..?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Idiots! First they get everybody excited and then they just drop the ball, this is the stupid government of Japan!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Dammit... So I'll got to do all way by feet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

More kechi gaijin entering Japan isn't necessary.Whoever thought of the idea should be fired for being baka.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

You all miss the point here, it was a good jesture by Japan to offer the trips, after receiving all the aid from abroad Japan reciprocate by the offering trips. That is very Japanese, to give something back after receiving so much, as anyone ever heard of any country giving anything back after receiving aid from abroad after a desaster..

-1 ( +1 / -3 )

*>@Kentaro75, you don't seem to understand. Offering FREE travel would bring in more money now than when everything's fixed up. Out of the 10,000 who would be coming, a large percentage of this would like to see the damaged areas as it is. In turn, international groups may sponsor some aspects of the campaign.

I am surprised the brilliant minds here who have jumped on this story fail to comprehend simple math

10,00 free tickets = approximately $1,000,000 USD....amount of money injected into the economy here should cover that plus.....no one complained when the government handed free money to people living here to go and spend to achieve the same effect a while back

-3 ( +1 / -3 )

It was an irresponsible promotion in the first place if they had not secured the means before making the promise; don't put the onus on the people to 'understand'.

Actually, it was never promised at all. It was simply a proposal and was reported as if it was a certainty. The government has implemented several other promotions such as inviting previous JET participants from tsunami and earthquake affected areas.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

”Rebuilding and economy, we can manage by ourselves, ”

Do you have any idea how much foreigners have donated to Japan? Do you have any idea how many foreigners went up there to deliver food and aid even in the first week? In many cases, even before Japanese got there? And do you have any idea how many foreigners are still up there involved in rebuilding?

It's okay to be against the free tickets - but, please think first before you come out with the "we Japanese can do everything by ourselves" rhetoric.

And actually, you would have been better asking for and accepting more foreign help from Day 1 in the case of the nuclear reactors.

Japanese who think like you are EXACTLY the reason for Japan's problems.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Of course, they can't afford to now that they are going to inject 1.5 trillion yen into TEPCO, that just finished paying end of year bonuses to its employees, but needs the funds because it is short of cash.

It was a good idea, but so are other ideas like cigarette taxes, and discretionary budget cuts, that the MoF is also opposing. Never had a chance

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, that's just great!.. thank you Japanese govt. for taking the hot air out of my balloon!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm with smithinjapan on this one. Doesn't matter whether you announce it as a "certainty" or a "possibility" -- once you let the cat out of the bag, all of the mice sit up and take notice. I have a friend who, due to family constraints, isn't exactly loaded -- but he is internet savvy and was keen to document his experience here (which was one of the requirements for receiving the tickets, after all.) Of course, he knew it was a lottery to get the tickets, so he wasn't exactly pinning his hopes on getting a ticket, but when I told him it's all called off, I swear I could hear him scratching his head through Facebook.

Guess they forgot the Japanese proverb, "Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and confirm it," (or something to that effect.)

Meanwhile, my friends in the hotel industry continue to just barely survive the cutbacks. Guess hotel workers are lower on the totem pole than whalers ...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wasn't this the campaign that used the posters of the maneko kitty, paw raised, with lots of Japanese behind it, hands raised in paw-like maneko-like gesture? Nice graphic poster. I saw one hanging in the train today.

Frankly, I think there should be an annual lottery of applicants for free trips to Japan. Requirement: get sent to different parts of Japan and blog the hello kitty out of it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

calm down: "if you can give me a link to that, your argument would be much tighter,"

Dude, do a Google search of "Japan offers free flights" and there's your 39 million links right there. It even auto-fills the search in before you're done typing it! You can see newspapers from around the world reporting it as an 'offer', not a 'mulling', or a 'suggestion', or a 'proposal', but a genuine offer they thought would make the people offering it look good.

Here's but a snippet of what you can find:

'"The Asian market has been showing the fastest recovery, with visitors to Japan from south-east Asia having already bounced back into positive growth by month on 2010," said Mamoru Kobori, the JNTO's executive director of marketing and promotion. "Within Europe, the UK is leading the way in picking up the number of visitors to Japan."

Kobori said the agency had already invited more than 1,000 journalists and travel industry executives in an attempt to reassure the world Japan is a safe destination.'

Sounds like it was quite a bit more than 'mulling', no? They may well have proposed it to the government, but they ANNOUNCED it to the press.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Press Release by JNTO on October 14, 2011

Regarding news coverage on " 10,000 FREE FLIGHTS TO FOREIGNERS"

Thank you for your interest in visiting Japan.

Recently a number of media outlets have publicized reports about ”Japan offering 10,000 free flights to foreigners”.  However, this initiative to be carried out from April 2012 onwards is still under examination for government budgetary approval and is at this moment undecided.

If the initiative is confirmed and put into operation, Japan Tourism Agency will officially announce details on this website. To receive instant notifications on this and more related news, join your local Japan National Tourism Organization on Facebook (http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/fb/index.html) now!

Warning: There have been reports in some countries about acts of fraud related to this media report. The Japanese government has not committed to provide free flight tickets to Japan to anybody. Please be careful not to get caught up in this kind of fraud.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@smith..dude,dude,dude..did you read the only one that matters,the only one that we are concerned with ie the Japanese National Tourist Agency link..it was the 5th one down and emphatically warning that foreign media outlets were falsely reporting this as an offer !! Goodness gracious ...the foreign media have twisted this almost as much as you have,more than 'a snippet' I'm afraid.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The government is quite happy to allow children to go on living in areas with 4 times the radioactive contamination of the Soviet Union's mandatory evacuation zones, because it has no money to even think about moving them to safety. But it has the leisure and can imagine spending the money to give 10,000 free vacations. Japan's bureaucrats are utterly despicable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

announcing that campaign was another perfect example of japan putting the cart before the horse

2 ( +2 / -0 )

However, there is plenty of cash to purchase F-35's - that are not yet operational yet.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan scraps plan to give away 10,000 free flights to visitors

It was a misguided idea from its inception. It's a good call to put an end to it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

they wont spend this (1.18billon) money on promoting tourism in Japan that will lead to more money for the local economy, but theyll spend more than this on security for the whaling fleet in Antartica which theyll never get a return in profits!!!??? now who ever said the Japanese lack common sense?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Going to Any place free is nice but I would pay for a visit to Japan Many people mis-read the story and expected a free ride!- The Tooth Fairy is Dead! Support Japan & Visit Japan -It's worth the trip!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I guess in principal it was a good idea what a shame it was not given to the thousands of volunteers coming to help Japan from all over the world.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I lived in Japan for about 4 years, but my wife has never seen the country. I've wanted to bring her here for years and this would have been a great way to it. I understand the politics of it though. But if they ever decide to do it, I'd love to show my wife what a gorgeous country and culture it really is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That was unexpected. Why would they release something like this without approval of funds? I mean, were they intending upon pressuring the government to provide them with the funds by prereleasing such promotion? If that was the case, it sure back fired.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another lie from the Japanese government. Is anyone keeping tabs?! Well I was working in Tokyo during 3/11 and I noticed a lot of my co-workers (native Japanese) didn't trust their government, so how could I. I have no regret that I left for Okinawa five weeks after 3/11. It was safe and sound in Okinawa, not one tremor. Alas I am back home studying in Texas now. When I come back to work in Asia, it will not be in Japan.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

come free... when leave pay all the bills..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

1.8 billion yen divided by 60,000 yen equals 30,000 - the number of tickets that could almost be fully subsidized by the government to bring tourist to Japan. 10,000 tickets or 30,000 ticket? The average tax for a ticket from SFO to NRT is 85,000 yen. 60,000 yen reduces the ticket to a more affordable price for a tourist. The advantage is the tourist will spend MORE than 60,000 yen in economic stimulus to the economy. Let your elected person know the simple math, and if he/she doesn't agree, vote for someone else.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Perhaps, just maybe, the cart was put in front of the horse. What a shock that the J-gov can't or doesn't want to subsidize airfare for gaijins.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

noriyosan73:

" The advantage is the tourist will spend MORE than 60,000 yen in economic stimulus to the economy. Let your elected person know the simple math, and if he/she doesn't agree, vote for someone else. "

No. If the math was that "simple", why not pay for all air tickets into japan from our taxes and thus reap an even bigger profit. Unlimited, in fact.

No, this kind of Obamanonics pie-in-the-sky economic idea has no base in reality.

I am glad they scrapped this waste of taxpayer money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We are planning another working and goofing around trip in 2011, mostly to Wakayama, Osaka and the surrounding areas, plus some time in Tokyo to visit friends. We are glad to pay our own airfare. Japan—the land and the Japanese people—are amazing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Seems the Jgov has another idea to bring in foreigners with twitter or facebook accounts that have lots followers as they need some good traveling press about Japan to say that its safe, and there's no radiation fears.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They still could have given away 1,000 flights with the explanation, "We just couldn't afford all 10,000 flights, while still fulfilling our obligations to our countrymen in Tohoku. But it is still important for us to encourage people from outside Japan to visit and report on websites and social media what they see." No one could have argued with the rationale, and there would still be 1,000 people going.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Too bad it wasn't funded. It would have brought in some tourist yen and helped out a little bit. I was going to put in for it for the wife and kids for a vacation. It's an expensive set of airline tickets to get three people to Japan. Bummer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The DPJ actually did something right! There's a first for everything.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

'Lip service' gimmicks.. By contrast, Qantas offered 100 000 free tickets to passengers. You donot need a compass to figure out your next destination !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites