According to a report from Japanese media house Asahi, the government is weighing its options to resume the inflow of tourists on a limited basis, from spring; the development comes in the wake of Japan preparing to host the delayed summer Olympics.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is leaning towards allowing small tour groups from Asian countries where coronavirus infection levels are under control, such as Taiwan and China, said the report.
Officials from the Japanese government did not respond to requests for comments.
The Japanese government has launched a subsidy program to revive domestic tourism – a key driver of economic growth, but the move has been criticized since Japan is weighed down by a third wave of coronavirus-induced COVID-19 infections.
New cases of the disease have spiked to record highs in Osaka and Tokyo. The number of serious cases nationwide has also risen to a new high.
Under the proposed plan, tourists who have tested negative for COVID-19, and who have submitted a detailed travel itinerary before entering Japan, could be potential allowed. Such tourists would travel only by hired coaches and would be separated from other customers at their hotel and sightseeing destinations.
They would also have to install a tracing app and provide daily updates on their health, said the report.
Currently, Japan allows only a limited number of people for business purposes; they are requested to self-isolate for 14 days.