Gov’t to exclude Sapporo, Osaka from Go To travel campaign for 3 weeks – Nationwide
The Japanese government will exclude Sapporo and Osaka from its domestic travel subsidy campaign for three weeks starting Tuesday due to a recent resurgence of coronavirus cases in the two popular tourist destinations, the government said. Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of Japan’s virus response, said at a news conference that the government will cover cancellation fees for pre-booked trips to the two cities and compensate businesses affected by the suspension. Trips by residents of Sapporo in Hokkaido and Osaka in western Japan to other areas will continue to be eligible for the “Go To Travel” campaign, which effectively shoulders about half of domestic travel expenses to help the tourism industry weather the impact of the pandemic.
The central government’s decision follows plans announced by both Hokkaido Gov Naomichi Suzuki and Osaka Gov Hirofumi Yoshimura to temporarily withdraw their capital cities from the travel promotion program. Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan, meanwhile, decided to request its residents not to make nonessential trips to areas such as Tokyo and Osaka, where virus infections have been spreading.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had announced the halt of the initiative without elaborating on destinations affected, time frames or other details, a day after a government panel of medical experts proposed reviewing the campaign. Suga discussed with Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike on the central government’s policy on the travel campaign and response of the metropolitan government over the matter, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said. Koike did not touch on what she discussed with Suga, merely telling reporters at the metropolitan government office building, “We will firmly take measures to tackle the coronavirus in collaboration with the central government.” Tokyo, which has reported the most coronavirus infections among the 47 prefectures, confirmed 186 new cases on Tuesday, sharply down from 314 logged the previous day.
27,400 foreign travelers visited Japan in October: JNTO – Nationwide
The estimated number of foreign travellers to Japan plunged 98.9 percent in October from a year earlier to 27,400 for the 13th straight month of declines due to the global coronavirus pandemic, government data showed Wednesday. However, it did mark the first time the number has exceeded the 20,000 level in seven months as the government has eased entry restrictions imposed on 159 countries and regions, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. The number has been on an upward trend since it tumbled to 1,663 in May, the lowest point this year so far, as the government lifted a state of emergency in late May.
Visitors from Vietnam totalled 6,200, followed by 4,500 from China, 2,000 from South Korea and 1,400 from Thailand. Travelers from Vietnam ranked first in the statistics for the first time since 1982, the earliest year when comparable data became available, according to the organization. Since Oct 1, a limited number of business travellers from around the globe have also been permitted to enter Japan under certain conditions. The number of visitor arrivals includes expatriates and their families entering or re-entering Japan as well as international students. Aircrew and permanent residents were excluded. In the meantime, the number of Japanese nationals departing the country in October also plunged 98.1 percent from a year earlier to 31,000.
With many countries still imposing cross-border travel restrictions, the Japanese government is pinning its hopes on domestic tourism to revive the industry severely hit by the pandemic. It launched its Go To Travel subsidy campaign to support domestic tourism and as a result spending by travelers in the country between July and September surpassed 2.92 trillion yen ($28 billion), according to preliminary data released by the Japan Tourism Agency. The figure tripled from the April-June period, but it was still a decline of 56.3 percent from a year earlier. The number of trips carried out by Japanese people in the country totalled 85.74 million between July and September, according to the data. However, whether the tourism industry continues its recovery path to climb out of the slump remains uncertain, as public concerns over coronavirus infections have been increasing along with the recent spikes in new cases in Tokyo and other urban areas.
Japan to help schools for foreigners with multilingual virus info – Nationwide
Japan’s education ministry is considering providing information on the coronavirus in multiple languages by email to unauthorized schools for foreigners, an official said Saturday. The plan is part of preparations for a possible cluster of infections as schools not licensed by Japanese authorities could be left out from various forms of official support. The ministry will seek help from embassies and support groups for foreigners to create a list of unauthorized schools and send information deemed necessary to them in multiple languages, including English and Portuguese, according to the official. The government has not grasped the exact number of unauthorized schools for foreigners in Japan.
According to a 2019 survey conducted by the ministry, there were 124,000 foreign children aged between six and 15 in Japan and as many as 19,000 were believed to have stayed out of schooling. Some of the 19,000 children might be receiving education through unauthorized schools, but the details remain unknown. The ministry aims to use collected data beyond its response to the virus in the future to improve education support for foreign children, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
As of March 2019, there were 126 authorized foreign schools in Japan, according to the ministry, which provided face masks to them as part of steps to protect children and teachers from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. Such schools are eligible to receive subsidies of local governments in some cases as well. But those not authorized, which apparently exist in all sizes across Japan, remain outside the scope of aid since it is unknown where they are or how many children attend them. It is said some children are taught privately in small groups in apartment rooms.
In the central Japan city of Hamamatsu, there are three schools catering for the Brazilian community of some 9,000, with one remaining unregistered and thus unable to receive Shizuoka Prefecture’s subsidies. The city provides up to 10,000 yen to each foreign family with students to cover expenses for textbooks, regardless of which school they attend. Toyota, another central Japan city in Aichi Prefecture, supports two unlicensed Brazilian schools to conduct disaster drills and health check-ups, in addition to assistance on precautions against the virus.