In early February the first year of the new Japanese fiscal year will begin. That means a bright glow of new tax revenue will emerge from most state coffers and should prompt more investment in Japan. Those jetting off to join this jubilee of economic dynamism include Korean and Chinese visitors. Here’s what you need to know:
The border is closed
Some 130,000 Chinese tourists were expected to head north during the Chinese New Year. Though Chinese passenger numbers for 2018 are not yet published, last year they totalled about 2.3 million, according to foreign ministry data. With the Great Firewall of China, censorship, boycotts and the rise of the US border policy have made the free flow of information and information through the west via Huawei’s networks difficult or near impossible. The carrier has been in the news lately over the hacking of its server by US intelligence agencies. The Japanese tourism agency maintains that requests for travel on the route from China are currently being processed.
The Taleban will be there, too
Nearly 70% of Chinese travellers to Japan go to temples and shrines. Another 15% go to places of historical and cultural significance. Considering that most Japanese live on one-third the wages of their Chinese counterparts, this is great news for the Japanese economy. For a price the hills can stay.
The tourism industry will welcome the arrival of “J-Visa”, the simplified tourism visa and permit system that allows entry for 90 days. The J-Visa was introduced last year for visitors from New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, the US, Spain, France, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Thailand, Belize, Morocco, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, Turkey, Qatar, Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Guinea. As previously reported by the Guardian, many of the 500 tourist agencies and travel companies issuing non-J-Visa tours, including hotels, tour guides, tour guides’ companies, and firms marketing independent tours, have threatened to boycott J-Visa territories.
The chicken laws
If you are a prospective travel agent or tour guide, they are not particularly welcoming to non-Texans.
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The Japanese capital is taking another stand against its 28 million to 40 million unregistered residents. In response to a comment by Nipissing University professor Hajime Suzuki calling for an end to “giant cabbages”, the city mayor, Koichi Kamoshida, has decreed the White House an “underpass”. Also known as a moshiki or a bird’s nest, it is a common feature of Tokyo landscape. From next month, 2,000 shops, bars, restaurants and other businesses will be forced to completely close one day a week to empty the nation’s spaces.
Airbus has confirmed it is abandoning a plan to reroute the Northern Japan International Airport. Instead, the firm will start adding two larger-cabin jets to its regular fleet.
Three people were trapped for over two hours in the toilets of an on-board escalator and a flooded power supply forced the cancellation of 85 flights.
The death toll after an elderly woman drank toxic chemicals, laced with mercury, from a tap at a hotel where she was staying has risen to 23. Police said they had arrested a 58-year-old woman on suspicion of murder.
The remains of a crashed Japan Airlines plane at Haneda airport, on the outskirts of Tokyo, July 2018. Photograph: Okamura Kohei/Shutterstock
With natural disasters on the rise, the Guardian has explored what you need to know to be prepared.
Brussels airport has been closed twice after a fire hit its power supply, wreaking havoc on passengers and freight in the wake of a terrorist attack. The same phenomenon struck Gatwick in the Brexit summer. Firefighters battled for hours to put out smouldering ashes in the cooling towers that supplied the airport. Grenfell Tower fire survivors who returned to the scene were forced to find that work had been done on the remains.