Japan is reopening its doors

Japan is reopening its doors
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida looks around before speaking ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden at the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference in New York, U.S., September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Japan has been pretty strict with its COVID guidelines since the start of the pandemic. And after the first couple of waves of the pandemic had passed, it was a country that still resisted reopening despite pushes from its business sector to reopen for economic reasons. You might even remember that back when it held the Olympics that the rules were really strict for everyone who went to the Games to lower the chance of transmission in the country.

But now, two and a half years after the start of the pandemic, Japan is returning to some sense of normal by reopening its borders. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday in New York that the islands would be getting rid of most of their border controls starting October 11, including visa restrictions.

Though the hesitation to reopen was guided by COVID fears, the decision to reopen seems to be at least in part a response to the fact that the yen has lost a lot of weight in its world position, sliding about 20% so far this year. In theory, reopening will help that. So will, hopefully, the nationwide travel discount the government is rolling out.

Key comments:

Japan “will relax border control measures to be on par with the US,” said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the New York Stock Exchange, an announcement that brought applause from the audience.

“I hope many people will utilize it,” said Kishida, announcing a new discount program for travel to Japan. “I want to support the travel, entertainment and other industries that have been struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.”