Despite media reports distributed by Reuters, citing Fuji News Network, about an impending Japan tourist visa waiver there is still no formal announcement as at 14th September 2022. FNN reported that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida may decide in the next few days on the easing, which would allow individual travellers to visit Japan without using a travel agency.
UPDATE 25th September: Japan will restore individual tourism and visa-waiver travel to vaccinated travellers from certain countries from 11th October.
Japan tourist visa
This is the official page for visa application as at 13th September, which will presumably be updated as and when the decision is made. Prior to Covid-19 pandemic border closures, tourist visas were not required for travellers from 68 countries and regions to Japan. It would be expected that these countries would be first in line for the visa waiver.
Japan has recently raised the daily ceiling of inbound travellers to 50,000 from 20,000. There are indications that the government may scrap this daily cap on arrivals by October 2022. Autumn is a great time to visit Japan and scrapping the cap will be very welcome to travellers as well as the airlines flying there.
UPDATE: The daily cap on arrivals, currently set at 50,000, will be scrapped on 11th October. The government is also considering revising regulations on hotels, allowing them to refuse guests who refuse to abide by infection controls during an outbreak, such as mask wearing.
In addition, the requirement for pre-departure Covid tests has been dropped since 7th September, easing one of the most restrictive border measures among major economies. However, travellers should have a valid vaccination certificate. This page is updated as required, so it’s wise to check for any changes.
But I’m not a ‘tourist’
There are a number of classes of travellers who have special exceptional circumstances and can visit their nearest Japanese Embassy to obtain the appropriate visa. This would include people who have been offered (or have) employment in Japan, or for such events as a wedding of a close family member. You may find the list here.
The tourism industry is very important to Japan’s economy and the current weakness of the Yen is effective in attracting inbound tourism. This was noted by Deputy chief cabinet secretary Seiji Kihara, in a recent televised address, who added that further steps must be taken to draw in foreign visitors.