JAPAN: International borders opening from 10 June 2022 – sort of
Japan’s borders with some exceptions – like for Olympic athletes have been closed for around 2 years during the pandemic.
The country has been slowly opening up, initially allowing a trial of group tours from a limited range of countries including Australia to enter the country earlier in May. It has also limited the number of incoming passengers, which was at 10,000 per day, but will be doubled to 20,000 from 1 June.
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Japan permits visitors from 106 countries under current international arrival capacity limits for study and business purposes. The welcoming of tour groups is seen as a further relaxation of restrictions.
Tourism has been important to Japan with, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization 32 million arrivals in 2019 but only 250,000 in 2021.
Qantas has delayed the resumption of flights to Tokyo from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane until September/October. With this change in Japanese border policy there is a chance Qantas will bring those flights forward. Those flights will likely use Airbus A330s, with 28 lie-flat Business Suites and 269 in economy. Japan Airlines (JAL), a Oneworld member flies out of Tokyo to Sydney and Melbourne. ANA, a partner to Virgin Australia only flies between Tokyo and Sydney at the moment with no word on when it might resume its pre-pandemic service out of Melbourne.
Japan is a fantastic destination, which I would love to revisit. It’s a pity the borders have not reopened for Sakura – Cherry Blossom – season which runs around March/April each year. It is an incredibly civilised country to visit, where everything works like clockwork. If the timetable says your bus whill arrive at the stop at a certain time, then it will, and you will even be able to monitor its progress. Train stations have markings for where the carriage doors will open – and that is where they open!
The Japanese, despite their reputed xenophobia are incredibly hospitable and helpful. Dither around at a train station ticket kiosk working out what and how to buy a ticket too long, and someone will approach with the sole intention of assisting you.