In June, Japan announced that it was finally opening its borders to tourists after a two-year period of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While exciting, it came with a caveat – visitors were only allowed to enter as part of a sponsored tour group, and even that came with additional requirements for testing and quarantining. These requirements left Japan as the only G6 nation not to fully reopen for tourism, but that's all potentially about to change.
According to a report by NHK, the Japanese government is considering allowing overseas tourists to enter without joining a guided tour, as long as the visit was arranged through a travel agency. This potential change follows a stark decline in foreign tourism – less than 8,000 visitors in July, which is well below pre-pandemic levels and likely due to a desire for an individual style of travel by Westerners. If approved, the move is expected to go into effect in September.
NHK also reports that the Japanese government has confirmed it will scrap its current requirements for pre-arrival PCR tests. This change will go into effect on Wednesday, September 7 and only applies to inbound travellers that have been fully vaccinated and boosted.
While visitation still isn't a free-for-all, these changes mark a move in that direction and mean Australians will be able to enter Japan with more ease.