Today we have a Reader Question that is leaning on John’s recent article about signs that Japan might open up to international visitors in June and what that opening would look like.
Readers are encouraged to send us questions, comments, or opinions by email, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We’ll try to cover them here several times a week.
Japan has now been closed to international visitors for over two years which has largely affected tourists and business travelers although recently business people with a respective visa can enter the country again.
The countries entry policies have been crazy as it was pretty much completely isolated except for the brief period of the Olympics when athletes, IOC staff, sponsors and designated invitees were allowed to come in.
Last week John wrote an article following comments of the Japanese PM that the country would soon (by June) adjust the entry policy to G7 standards, allowing visitors again.
Japan To Ease Border Measures In June + Limited Tour Groups From May
There have been plenty of announcements and rumors but this one is pretty strong as it came directly from the PM and following elections that were widely seen to be one of the roadblocks for introducing more liberal policies.
Our reader Sven from Amsterdam commented or better raised a question if it would be advisable to book air tickets to Japan and maybe even hotels as long as they’re still relatively reasonable in price.
While there is no blueprint for what people should do I’d err on the side of caution and say absolutely not.
Japan has played bait and switch way too many times. Easing some restrictions, then only allowing access with some ridiculous conditions and caveats. I wouldn’t book anything until it’s definitive how Japan’s reopening plans look like. If they impose another set of bonkers rules such as only allowing visitors to enter as tour groups that’s a no-starter and makes the entire discussion completely obsolete.
You could make bookings on miles and points if your loyalty program allows you a generous cancellation policy (free) but I certainly wouldn’t book anything nonrefundable or revenue (cash) based.
While Japan has been a favorite among tourists I have the feeling many stopped caring at this point. Korea reopened and a lot of tourists visited Seoul and other Korean cities for Sakura (cherry blossom) this April. It was amazing in my opinion.
I do miss staying at my favorite hotels in Japan such as the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
At the same time, I can clearly see why Japan was in no hurry to open up. There has been absolutely zero reciprocity in restrictions anywhere. Japanese were able to freely enter pretty much any country for tourism purposes.
No government had the idea to stand up to them and say that the entry privilege for Japanese will be revoked until they open up again themselves. So very little downside for Japan in their frenzy to protect themselves from Covid and the “dirty Foreigners”. Overall a very sad situation.
Of course there was one downside, namely the missing tourism revenue. The exchange rate right now is excellent. 1 USD is 131 Yen today – open up, I want to visit some hotels, dammit!
While the writing is on the wall that Japan will do “something” soon in respect to their entry policies nobody knows what that will be or when exactly.
It’s imperative to be patient and watch the announcements closely. Do not book any trips unless they are 100% refundable such as miles and points redemptions. It would be highly unfortunate and expensive to book something just to be disappointed again.