Tokyo, May 17 (EFE).- Japan Tuesday announced it would allow a limited number of tourists from four countries to test its Covid-19 infection control measures in another step toward easing its border controls.
Small-scale tours of travelers from the United States, Australia, Thailand, and Singapore will be able to enter the country from this month under strict surveillance by the Japanese authorities, the tourism ministry said.
Only travelers who have received the third booster vaccine dose will be allowed.
They will be able to visit areas agreed upon by local prefectures with no emergency declared due to a high number of coronavirus infections, said the Japan Tourism Agency, which comes under the ministry, in a statement on its website.
The pilot project will make it possible to analyze the safety situation in the areas visited by foreign travelers, the possible infections recorded among them, and compliance with infection control measures and recommendations in force in Japan, Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito told reporters.
“International travel is extremely important for economic activities and regional revitalization,” he said.
Japan kept its borders closed to overseas visitors since the pandemic began in 2020.
Until a few months ago, it had also prohibited the entry of people with the new student, work, or business visas to prevent the coronavirus spread.
In March, the government led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that it would begin to ease restrictions amid declining infections both in Japan and globally.
The relaxation included allowing entry of people with short and medium-term visas.
The Japanese authorities hope that the latest project will allow them to evaluate the effectiveness of their health measures and prepare new recommendations for the return of foreign tourists.
Currently, 10,000 travelers are allowed to enter the country daily, including Japanese citizens, foreign residents, people with study visas or work visas, and short-term business travelers.
The limit will be increased to 20,000 in June.
In March, Kishida announced Japan’s plans to ease its entry procedure from next month to make it on par with other Group of Seven (G7) countries.
The country never imposed a mandatory lockdown during the pandemic or carried out large-scale Covid-19 tests.
It has recorded some 8.4 million coronavirus infections and 30,000 deaths, the lowest fatality rate among G7 nations. EFE