After closing its borders for over two years due to the Covid pandemic, Japan will once again welcome foreign tourists.
From 11 October, tourists can enter the country without a visa and no longer need to go through a travel agency.
A daily arrivals cap will also be lifted.
Japan’s announcement coincides with the relaxation of visitor entry rules in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Taiwan will eliminate quarantine requirements for international arrivals by mid-October, while Hong Kong announced on Friday that it would transition from hotel quarantine to stay-at-home requirements beginning September 26.
The anticipated influx of tourists will be a welcome boost to the government and local businesses in Japan, and it comes as the Japanese yen has dropped to its lowest level against the US dollar in six months.
“Japan will relax border control measures to compete with the United States,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.
Visitors have been permitted to enter the country since June, but only as part of organized tours.
Mr. Kishida also announced a domestic travel incentive program that will provide discounts on airfare, theme park admission, sporting events, and concerts. Residents and citizens of Japan will be eligible for an 11,000 yen (£69; $77) subsidy.
Similar programs have been implemented to encourage locals to spend and stimulate the economy in other countries re-openings. However, as in other places, the rising cost of living has been a major source of concern for locals.
Due to Covid health concerns, the world’s third-largest economy was one of the last Asian powerhouses to keep its borders closed.
It has the lowest death rate among the world’s wealthiest nations, while its vaccination rate is among the highest.
Japan, too, never required lockdowns or masks, but many locals readily adopted them.
In the year preceding the pandemic, nearly 32 million foreign visitors visited Japan. According to reports, recent travel restrictions have prevented many foreign visitors from visiting.