TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio said Thursday his country will resume accepting tourists from overseas on June 10, starting with group tour visitors only.
Group tour visitors accompanied by tour conductors will be allowed to enter the country. The government has been suspending the entry into Japan of tourists from overseas since tightening its COVID-19-linked border controls in April 2020.
The government divided countries and regions into the three groups of blue, yellow and red, based on the risk of bringing the coronavirus into Japan. Tourists from the blue group with the lowest risk will be allowed to enter, accounting for about 80 pct of the total.
The ban will be lifted in light of improvements in the infection situations at home and abroad, and strong expectations for economic effects from foreign tourists.
Only group tour visitors will be allowed into the country at first to make it easier to manage activities and infection status after arrival.
Kishida said in a speech in Tokyo that the government aims to reopen its borders to foreign tourists in stages while looking at the infection situation, moving toward accepting them in the way it used to before the pandemic.
On Wednesday, the government will raise the daily limit on the number of people allowed to enter Japan to some 20,000 from 10,000. The new cap will apply to the tourists as well.
The government began a test project on Tuesday to accept small groups of foreign tourists.
Kishida also said international flights connecting foreign airports with New Chitose Airport in the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido and Naha Airport in Okinawa Prefecture, southernmost Japan, will be resumed next month.
Currently, international flights in Japan are limited to five airports, including Tokyo International Airport at Haneda and Narita International Airport near Tokyo, due to quarantine reasons.
The government also lowered its pandemic travel advisory for 36 countries and regions, including the United States and Britain, to Level 1, which calls for exercising caution.