NILS Fukuoka Times

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What’s Happening Now in Fukuoka & Japan June 2022


1,300 apply to come to Japan on guided tours since re-entry rules eased – Nationwide

More than 1,300 people have applied to travel to Japan on guided tours since the country restarted visa procedures to accept some leisure visitors from abroad a week ago as worries about the COVID-19 pandemic wane, a government agency said.

Koichi Wada, who heads the Japan Tourism Agency, said at a press conference that over 300 applications have been received for June, with around 1,000 from July onward. The very first group comprising a small number of people arrived in Japan, he said, without revealing their nationalities. Wada said he expects entries to Japan to “rise slowly,” with most of the arrivals coming mainly from Southeast Asian countries, as well as South Korea and the United States.

Tour participants to Japan are requested to observe infection prevention measures, including wearing masks, and are asked to take out medical insurance in the event they contract the coronavirus. Operators of package tours are required to explain to customers that they may not be able to travel if they do not follow the guidelines. Tourists need their travel agencies to enter their travel information such as names, passport numbers and their place of stay on the country’s immigration registration website before applying for and obtaining visas.

On June 10, the Japanese government resumed procedures to accept foreign tourists, taking the initial step toward increasing inbound tourism for the first time in around two years. The relaxations are limited to people from 98 countries and regions deemed low-risk for coronavirus transmission, including the United States, Britain, China, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand. Japan has slowly lifted its cap on entry numbers, most recently doubling it to 20,000 on June 1. Before the pandemic, the country had aimed for 40 million foreign visitors in 2020 when it was originally scheduled to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which were postponed for a year.

The government has not indicated when it will begin allowing individual travellers again. It has said “appropriate decisions will be made” on further relaxations based on factors including the infection situations at home and abroad.

3 more airports in Japan to resume accepting international flights in July – Miyagi, Hiroshima and Kagawa Prefecture

Three more regional airports in Japan will reopen for international flights in July as the nation further eases COVID-19 border controls, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said. The addition of Sendai, Hiroshima and Takamatsu airports comes after the government decided on the resumption of international flights at Naha and New Chitose — gateways to popular tourist spots in Okinawa and Hokkaido — by the end of June. Kishida revealed the new plan in an interview with Kyodo News. Major international hubs such as Narita, Haneda and Kansai are already accepting flights from abroad.

Japan has reopened its doors to foreign tourists, albeit those on packaged tours, by accepting visa procedures for leisure travellers since June 10. A daily cap of 20,000 people arriving in Japan has been in place, which includes returning Japanese citizens. After facing criticism that its border control steps are too stringent, the Japanese government has been relaxing them in stages, taking into account the COVID-19 situation at home and abroad.

Currently, countries and regions are divided into three groups, with most in the lowest-risk “blue” group. Travellers from countries and regions in the group need to show pre-departure negative COVID-19 test results but they are exempt from quarantine and testing upon arrival in Japan.

People in some parts of Japan now legally allowed to smile for their driver’s license photos – Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture

Getting a driver’s license is no easy feat in Japan, so if you’ve finally passed all the tests by listening for phantom trains and answering questions about motorcycles and towing 2,000-kilogram loads, odds are you’re going to be overjoyed. So, it’s nice that Japan now legally allows you to smile for your driver’s license photo, at least in some parts of the country.

In Japan, the issuing of driver’s licenses falls under the jurisdiction of the police department. Last fall, the National Police Agency asked local departments to review their driver’s license photo regulations and ease unnecessary restrictions. Osaka quickly decided to drop its prohibition against smiling for your photo, and Tokyo came to the same decision shortly thereafter.

Ostensibly, the no-smiling rule had been put in place so that the license photo would present the bearer’s facial expression in a natural, undistorted way. As a result, while Tokyo and Osaka drivers can now smile for the camera, they can’t smile too big. The corners of your mouth can curve up, but you have to keep your lips closed, and your eyes must remain wide open as well.

Tokyo is also now allowing the use of colored contact lenses in driver’s license photos, although only with colors “close to the bearer’s natural color,” meaning that most of the country’s population is limited to various shades of brown. Some areas are also allowing the use of colored backgrounds, in cheery hues such as pink or yellow, so long as your clothes are of a different color and don’t blend into it. Exact regulations vary by location, though, so make sure to double check with your local testing center, just in case they ask you to stick to smiling on the inside for your photo.


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