NILS Fukuoka Times

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What’s Happening Now in Fukuoka & Japan July 2023


More Japan tourist hot spots imposing hotel taxes to fund promotions – Nationwide

The practice of imposing municipal accommodation taxes on hotel guests has been spreading across Japan as popular tourist areas look to generate funds to use in promoting themselves to travellers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo is considering increasing its tax for the first time since it became the first area in the country in 2002 to implement the system.

Currently, hotels in the capital charge 100 yen per person per night for stays costing between 10,000 yen and 15,000 yen and 200 yen per night for rooms over 15,000 yen. The collected tax goes toward tourism-related costs, including for maintaining free public Wi-Fi and operating tourism information centres. Revenue collected has been increasing since 2011, hitting a record high of around 2.7 billion yen in fiscal 2019, but it fell in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic travel restrictions and a suspension of the system during the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, according to the Tokyo government. With the recent return of international tourists, the total is expected to recover in fiscal 2023 to about 1.7 billion yen, it said. But that figure falls well short of covering the capital’s outlay on tourism promotion in the same year, which is forecast to total around 26.4 billion yen.

With cities and prefectures free to independently set the rate they charge, some municipalities have adopted flat fees higher than Tokyo’s. The cities of Kanazawa and Kyoto require guests to pay flat fees of 500 yen and 1,000 yen per night, respectively. Two prefectures and six municipalities in Japan have followed Tokyo’s lead and have adopted the system, while others, including the city of Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture and Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, are considering it. The town of Kutchan in Hokkaido, home to the popular ski resort Niseko, is the only location that has implemented a percentage tax rate based on the amount spent on accommodation. A total of 2 percent of the room charge is collected, while the rate is higher for luxury lodgings, such as condominiums in the area that cost over 100,000 yen per night.

Japan issues heatstroke alerts as temperatures soar Nationwide

Japan issued heatstroke alerts to tens of millions of people as near-record high temperatures scorched swathes of the country, while torrential rain pummelled other regions. National broadcaster NHK warned viewers that the heat was at life-threatening levels, as temperatures soared to nearly 40 degrees Celsius in some places, including the capital Tokyo. The government issued heatstroke alerts for 20 of the country’s 47 prefectures, mainly in the east and southwest, affecting tens of millions of people. Heat can kill by inducing heatstroke, which damages the brain, kidneys, and other organs, but it can also trigger other conditions such as a heart attack or breathing problems.

Kiryu in Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo, saw the mercury reach 39.7 C while Hachioji in western Tokyo reached 38.9 C, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Japan’s highest temperature ever recorded was 41.1 C, which was first recorded in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, in 2018 and then matched in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, in 2020. Some places experienced their highest temperatures in more than four decades on Sunday, including Hirono town in Fukushima Prefecture with 37.3 C, and hot spring resort city Nasushiobara with 35.4 C, according to the weather agency’s data.

Meanwhile, torrential rain continued to lash northern Japan, where flooding and at least one landslide have been recorded. A man was found dead in a car submerged in a rice field in Akita Prefecture, police told AFP, a week after seven people were killed in similar weather in the country’s southwest. A heavy band of precipitation has dumped record-breaking amounts of rain in some parts of Japan, causing rivers to overflow and sodden earth to collapse in landslides.

Visitors to Japan top 2 million in June for first time since COVID – Nationwide

Tokyo sushi stalwart Kyubey is among Japanese retail businesses riding a tourism boom, fuelled by the weak yen and fostering an increase in consumer prices and hopes for a boost to the broader economy. Inbound visitors rose to 2.07 million in June, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) said, clearing the 2 million mark for the first time since February 2020. Kyubey, in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza shopping district, is one of the beneficiaries of the better times after surviving a 70% plunge in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even with a record heat wave in Japan, travellers are pouring in, taking advantage of a slide in the currency that has made holidays the cheapest in decades. The influx is helping stir demand-driven inflation in the world’s third-largest economy, as hotels, restaurants, and retailers find they can charge more without denting sales. Kyubey in April halted a lunch sale it had offered for years as rising costs for sea urchin, abalone and other shellfish made the price untenable. But discounts aren’t needed now for Kyubey’s customers, who come mainly from Europe, the United States, and elsewhere in Asia. It is sometimes completely booked out by foreigners, making it hard for Japanese diners to get in.

Tourism to Japan all but halted for more than two years during the pandemic. But numbers have risen steadily since the government resumed visa-free travel for many countries in October and scrapped remaining COVID controls on May 8. For the first six months of the year, 10.7 million tourists arrived, the JNTO said. Japan saw a record 32 million visitors in 2019, before COVID, and while no one is expecting that this year, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is hoping a recovery in the industry will add 5 trillion yen a year to the economy.


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