Japan Plans to Start Tourism Support Project

  • Relevant accommodation facilities must adopt new coronavirus epidemic prevention and control measures.
  • The goal is to avoid confined spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings.
  • Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike revealed that there were 143 newly diagnosed cases in the city.

Local news sources reported that Japan is expected to launch the “Go-To Travel” tourism support project on July 22nd. However, for Japan to start the project when the coronavirus pandemic has spread again, opposition parties and local governments have requested changes to the guidelines.

Japan attracted 31.19 million international tourists in 2018. Popular foreigner attractions include Tokyo and Hiroshima, Mount Fuji, ski resorts such as Niseko in Hokkaido, Okinawa, riding the shinkansen and taking advantage of Japan’s hotel and hotspring network.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism announced that relevant accommodation facilities must adopt new coronavirus epidemic prevention and control measures.

“We will be vigilant and closely monitor the virus situation, while avoiding the ‘3Cs’ by cooperating with local municipalities,” said tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba, referring to confined spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings.

According to reports, opposition parties, such as the Constitutional Democratic Party, held a joint hearing on the project yesterday, and the National Democratic Party Congress countermeasures chairman Hiroko Hara asked the project to be revised.

Haraguchi said “the epidemic may use cities such as Tokyo as an ‘infection source’ and spread to all of Japan. It should be stopped.” On the same day, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike revealed that there were 143 newly diagnosed cases in the city.

After 119 new cases were confirmed on a single day on the 13th, it continued to be fewer than 200 cases. However, it still maintained a three-digit high. At present, in addition to night downtown areas, such as bars, collective infections have also occurred in theaters, nurseries, and welfare facilities. The fear of the spread of the epidemic from Tokyo to various places has increased.

According to the report, it was also pointed out that as a preventive measure, the volunteers in the coronavirus-stricken areas were limited to people from within the county. Launching the above-mentioned projects contradicted these preventive measures.

That night, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was asked, whether he was implementing the project as planned. Abe said, “I am paying close attention to the current epidemic with a high degree of tension.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was first confirmed to have spread to Japan in January 2020. As of July 15, there have been 22,220 confirmed cases and 982 deaths.

According to the report, the measures that must be taken by accommodation facilities and tourism operators include users to check body temperature; check-in counters need to be equipped with partitions; shared facilities, such as baths, limit the number of people and maintaining social distance. The measures also require meals not to be self-service, but to provide and maintain separate seats, and establish a liaison system with the health center.

The Ministry of International Relations will cooperate with relevant groups to confirm the epidemic prevention measures when registering for the project, but the number of facilities and tourism operators is huge. However, Japanese media pointed out that there may be limitations in checking whether the site actually complies with epidemic prevention measures.

It is reported that, regarding the start time of the project, the Chinese Foreign Minister emphasized the necessity of starting as soon as possible at the press conference yesterday. Akaha said, “under the government’s overall policy combined with the opinions of infectious disease experts, the local authorities strongly demand the start.” He said he would also ask tourists to avoid going to crowded attractions, and wear masks.

“I wonder if it’s is all right for the program to begin nationwide at the same time during this period,” Yamagata Gov. Mieko Yoshimura said. “It will contribute to the economy, but I cannot welcome it entirely.”

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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