Japan to ease entry ban to allow long-term stays from Oct 1, but not tourists – Nationwide
The Japanese government plans to allow more foreigners to enter for stays of three months or longer from Oct 1, sources with knowledge of the plans said, significantly easing travel restrictions meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Around 1,000 foreigners would be granted entry daily under the eased restrictions, with increased virus testing capacity at airports to accommodate them, the sources said. Tourists will still be barred from entering Japan, which has imposed an entry ban for 159 countries and regions, with foreigners who have been to these areas within 14 days of their arrival being turned away.
The government has begun gradually rolling back the travel restrictions, with foreigners with long-term and permanent resident status in Japan who had travelled outside the country being allowed back in from September. Businesspeople have already been allowed to come from some Asian countries including Vietnam and Thailand under certain conditions, including providing negative COVID-19 test results, and foreign students on government grants can also enter the country.
According to the sources, the government plans to greatly expand the scope of people who are exempt from the entry ban from October, with foreign students who are not on government grants, medical staff, athletes and those participating in cultural activities among those to be allowed in. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the government’s top spokesman, said that Japan has so far managed to partially resume travel without triggering a resurgence in coronavirus infections, and that “serious consideration” will be put into easing the restrictions further.
Japan has seen more than 80,000 infections with a death toll of over 1,500, significantly less than hard-hit countries such as the United States, which is nearing 7 million infections. The government has been ramping up the number of polymerase chain reaction tests that can be administered at Japan’s three largest airports — Narita and Haneda, serving Tokyo, and Kansai, serving Osaka — and will now shift its focus to New Chitose near Sapporo, Chubu near Nagoya, and Fukuoka airport, the sources said.
Number of elderly reaches record 36.17 mil in Japan – Nationwide
The number of Japanese aged 65 and older totalled a record-high 36.17 million as of this month, up 300,000 from a year earlier, government data showed Sunday. The elderly accounted for 28.7 percent of Japan’s population, up 0.3 point, also hitting a record, according to the data by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications prior to Monday’s Respect for the Aged Day holiday.
The ratio of seniors remained well above the 23.3 percent in Italy, the second most aged society, followed by 22.8 percent in Portugal. The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research projects that Japan’s elderly will make up 35.3 percent by 2040, underscoring the rapid aging of the population.
According to the ministry, the number of Japanese men aged 65 and older stood at 15.73 million, while that of women came to 20.44 million. The ratio of seniors with jobs increased for the 16th consecutive year as the country faced a deepening labour shortage. Of the 8.92 million seniors with jobs, 5.31 million were men and 3.61 million were women. The biggest employer of seniors was the wholesale and retail industry with 1.26 million elderly workers, followed by agriculture and forestry with 1.08 million.
Bookings start for trips to and from Tokyo under Go To subsidy program – Tokyo
Japanese travel agencies and hotels began Friday accepting reservations for domestic trips to and from Tokyo starting Oct 1 under the government’s subsidy program, which was launched in July excluding the capital due to a spike in coronavirus cases there. The central government hopes the Go To Travel initiative, which currently offers a 35 percent discount and will cover half of travellers’ costs from Oct. 1, will stimulate domestic travel hit hard by the virus pandemic. But concerns remain that Tokyo’s addition could trigger a resurgence of infections in other areas as the capital still sees more than 100 virus cases per day.
“It is necessary for both (travel) operators and travelers to take thorough steps to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus,” tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba told reporters, adding 11 people who have used the program were infected with the virus. The central government has decided to add the capital into the scheme as the Tokyo metropolitan government lowered its virus alert by one level from the highest of four on Sept. 10, citing a downward trend in the number of infections. But Akaba, who retained the ministerial post under the newly launched Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, has hinted at the possibility of delaying the inclusion of Tokyo, if infections drastically spread in the capital again.
In that case, the land, infrastructure, transport and tourism ministry plans to request travel firms or accommodation facilities not to charge cancellation fees, with the losses to be covered by the state, according to the minister. Under the 1.35 trillion yen ($12.9 billion) travel push, tourists currently enjoy a 35 percent discount on their expenses centering on accommodation fees. From Oct 1, they will also be able to receive coupons worth 15 percent of total costs that can be used for food, shopping and other activities offered at destinations. Since the program was launched on July 22, a total of 13.39 million people stayed at hotels using the campaign by the end of August, according to a preliminary report by the tourism ministry.